Jurgen Klopp has said Philippe Coutinho's future is out of his hands
The Reds boss found himself on wearily familiar ground after seeing his side throw away the chance of an opening-day victory.
Just as last season, Klopp’s side found their best attacking work undermined by defensive mistakes, particularly at set-pieces, that ultimately allowed Watford to claim a point with an added-time equaliser.
The German insisted it will take time to improve his defensive unit and the arrival of a new centre-back – Southampton’s Virgil Van Dijk remains a target – will certainly help.
But until then, they know opponents will target their weaknesses as Miguel Britos – scorer of Watford’s equaliser – confirmed.
“We knew [about their weakness at set-pieces],” said the centre-back. “It is their weak point. We worked well on set-pieces and we scored twice from them.
Liverpool fans claim they don't need Coutinho after Mane, Firmino and Salah goals
Sat, August 12, 2017
Liverpool fans claim they don't need Philippe Coutinho after Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah all score against Watford
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It is their weak point. We worked well on set-pieces and we scored twice from them
Watford star Miguel Britos
“I’m not surprised by it because it not easy to work well, particularly when you mark a zone – and they mark a zone.”
Certainly Roberto Firmino failed to control his designated zone when Stefano Okaka headed Watford’s eighth-minute opener.
And the chaos created by Jose Holebas’ 93rd-minute corner that led to keeper Simon Mignolet parrying Richarlison’s shot onto the bar before Britos bundled home was also telling.
In between, Klopp’s side had been less than convincing when they tried to halt the move that led to Abdoulaye Doucoure restoring Watford’s lead.
Mohamed Salah scored on his official debut for Liverpool against Watford
There were positives for Klopp and Liverpool fans in the second-half form of his front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah, who helped disguise the absence of injured duo Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana.
Klopp admitted the future of Barcelona target Coutinho was now out of his hands following the Brazilian’s decision to hand in a transfer request, but with the crucial trip to Hoffenheim looming, the manager has more pressing matters to deal with.
“With all due respect to Watford, we should have won, we were the better team,” said Mane, who scored his side’s opening goal. “But it’s football. We’ll accept it, forget it and try to be ready for the next game.
“We should have defended better in this kind of game. It’s always complicated with long balls. It’s the first game of the season and we’re going to try to work hard for the next games.
“No excuses – everybody is fit. We’re unlucky we didn’t get three points because we were looking for that, but the next game we’re going to be ready to get three points to make our fans happy.”
The way Klopp’s side moved through the gears in the second half was promising with Salah winning a penalty converted by Firmino and then finishing from close range to put the visitors ahead.
But Watford showed impressive spirit under new manager Marco Silva.
“He has new ideas, his ideas,” said Britos. “The football is like we want to play and he is a good coach. It is the beginning and we have to carry on like this.
“A new season, new coach, new players and we have started well. It is positive. We keep going and try to work hard and correct our mistakes because we did make some.”