Former Liverpool defender Steve Nicol was critical of Nat Phillips’ poor positional play in the Reds’ 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid last night.
Jurgen Klopp’s side were regularly exposed on their right-hand side, with Real targeting long balls over the top of Phillips, and Nicol says the centre back‘s lack of ability at the top level was fully on display:
“He showed his complete and utter lack of experience. Two goals he was involved in are starting positions and that comes down to experience. You can’t afford to have a player in such an important position who can’t get his first basic principle of defending right – starting position.”
Nicol is being very harsh on Phillips. The 24-year-old is being asked to perform at a level he has never played at before, and there’s nothing he can do about his lack of pace, which meant he was caught out by the likes of Vinicius Jnr.
Of course, he could have done better with his starting position, as Nicol points out, but at the end of the day, Liverpool are just paying the price for having to play their fifth choice centre-half. We shall see if the Reds can salvage the tie during the second leg at Anfield.