EPL

Liverpool debutant Wataru Endo makes the right impression on Jurgen Klopp

By Sports Desk August 20, 2023

Jurgen Klopp was delighted with Wataru Endo’s Liverpool debut in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Bournemouth after admitting the new signing would have had “no clue what to do” tactically.

The Japan captain only completed his £16million move from Stuttgart on Friday and was a late addition to Liverpool’s matchday squad after his international clearance narrowly came through on time.

But the 30-year-old was thrown in at the deep end when asked to come on moments after Alexis Mac Allister was sent off just before the hour mark – even if the task was made slightly easier as Diogo Jota made it 3-1 to Liverpool as Endo was waiting to come on.

“It was a horrible first game coming in,” Klopp said. “He did absolutely all right. But he came there, he had no clue what to do. I spoke in the morning with him about how with 11 players it would look, but 4-4-1 was not involved in our conversation.

“I don’t think he slept a lot in the last two nights but he came on and threw everything he had on the pitch.”

Endo’s job was to help Liverpool shut up shop at the end of a frantic fixture, in which Antoine Semenyo had fired Bournemouth in front just three minutes in amid a terrible start from Liverpool, before Luis Diaz levelled and Mo Salah’s penalty put the hosts in front before the break.

While Endo was making a full debut quicker than expected, Saturday’s match was a first Anfield appearance for both Mac Allister and fellow summer signing Dominik Szoboszlai.

The 22-year-old Szoboszlai won the penalty when he made the most of an outstretched leg from Joe Rothwell, and it was his shot which Neto could only parry to allow Jota to make it 3-1.

“His away debut was not too bad either,” Klopp said of the £60million signing from RB Leipzig. “I had to hold him back a little bit. He was the only one who has the power for more.

“He was part of the double six, running everything, but the general performance level he showed since he was here is really, really good. And his involvement in the goal is obviously super important.

“His shooting we didn’t see properly yet but we will probably see more in the future. Macca’s home debut was impressive as well, it just wasn’t as long.”

The win takes Liverpool to four points from their opening two fixtures after last Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Chelsea.

“I think it’s the minimum we should expect from these two games,” Klopp said. “When we look at the games we don’t say where we should win or lose but when you start at Chelsea I don’t think anybody goes there and books the points in, ‘OK we have them already’.

“Of course against Bournemouth, our first home game, we want to win. It’s an OK start. If we wouldn’t have won we would think differently.”

Bournemouth goalscorer Semenyo was the one change Andoni Iraola made to his starting line-up and the January signing from Bristol City suggested he is fully over the shin surgery he had at the end of last season with a strong display.

“He was really good (last week against West Ham) when he came in and gave us a lot of energy for 20 minutes,” Iraola said. “He has been training well and here he has scored. He finished really tired like a lot of players did but it’s good news.

“I think he can play both wings and as a number nine. He is physically powerful and we need this.”

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