Liverpool have suffered back-to-back Premier League defeats and are eight points off the top four; Jurgen Klopp says an assessment on whether his team is at the end of a successful cycle should be made in the summer; the German says he and his team will fight to change their season
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says it is “not 100 per cent fair” to judge whether his team has reached the end of its successful cycle and that such an assessment should be made at the end of the season.
The Reds have suffered back-to-back Premier League defeats to Leeds and Nottingham Forest in the past two weeks – two teams who started their games with Klopp’s side in the relegation zone – to leave the Merseyside club in ninth place, eight points off the top four and 15 behind league leaders Arsenal.
Ahead of Liverpool’s final Champions League group stage game with leaders Napoli, with the Reds needing to win by four goals to finish top of the group, Klopp made a staunch defence of his team’s recent form after just picking up four Premier League wins in 12 games.
When asked if his Liverpool side, who have won seven major trophies in the last three years, are beginning to decline, Klopp said: “The judgement of this will be later on in the season or maybe at the end of the season, where you say “that’s it” for the group of players or for this manager, if you want.
Liverpool suffered their fourth defeat in the Premier League as Leeds snatched a late win at Anfield
“Questions will be asked then. In this moment, it’s not 100 per cent fair to judge the team because that means the squad and we didn’t have [some of] them available.
“Up front, we miss top quality. With the amount of games we have, you usually would make changes and we can’t do that. It’s a similar situation in midfield, players who are out and came back. We’ve had this pretty much everywhere.
“We expect more out of ourselves. The players expect more and I expect more out of them. But we have to make sure we get steps.”
Klopp: I’ll give everything to turn this around | ‘I’m not tired’
In their most recent game, Liverpool gifted Leeds an early opener as Joe Gomez’s poor backpass went straight to visiting forward Rodrigo for a tap-in.
While Liverpool equalised through Mohamed Salah and had several chances to take the lead, Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier produced a string of impressive saves, before Crysencio Summerville gave Jesse Marsch’s side the victory with an 89th-minute winner.
With his side woefully out of form, Klopp insisted he will give “all I have or even more” to change Liverpool’s fortunes around, but insists he is not “tired” in his role as Reds manager.
“In this game, we had some good moments,” said Klopp, speaking about the Leeds defeat. “The Leeds goalie had an exceptional game and you have to work and use that as well.
“That’s the challenge in the moment. Avoiding the mistakes and keeping the good stuff in, and you get there step by step. It was never a quick fix, now it looks like it’s not a quick fix. But we will not stop fighting.
“I didn’t read anything but everything will probably be judged me now. People look at me and they will say I look tired or whatever. I’m not. I cannot give that excuse.
“My job is not only being here in the moment when the sun is shining and someone gives us a trophy. My job as well is to be there in a really rough period and I will do that with all I have or even more, 100 per cent.”
Carra: Liverpool have massive problems | Souness: They’re getting bullied
Jamie Carragher says Liverpool “have massive problems” after their 2-1 defeat to Leeds, while Graeme Souness believes Klopp’s side are now “getting bullied” by other teams.
“It’s a huge result for Leeds but Liverpool have got massive problems,” said Carragher on Saturday Night Football.
“Leeds fans know how big a result this is. It’s so long since anyone’s won at Anfield. They’re going to milk it and rightly so. It will do wonders for them, in terms of the league table. This isn’t a blip for Liverpool, this is a serious problem.
“There’s no doubt that the goalkeeper in the last 10-15 minutes has kept Leeds in it but if you look at the whole game you can’t say Leeds haven’t deserved to get something from it. They’ve been fantastic.
“Klopp must be thinking, what else can I try now? Different permutations, formations, personnel…”
Souness believes Liverpool’s ageing midfield means they “just don’t have it in their legs anymore” and “don’t play with the same intensity”.
He added: “Liverpool are a country mile from where they were over the last few years. In many instances, Leeds were more than a match for Liverpool and they did to Liverpool what they had been doing to teams for years.
“Liverpool basically bullied teams before, their midfield bullied teams. And now they’re being bullied. That’s making them vulnerable at the back, and they’re not creating the same chances up front.
“Liverpool are a shadow [of the team they used to be].
“Liverpool still had enough chances to win the game, but they are not like the Liverpool we’ve seen for the last five years. They don’t play with the same intensity and just don’t have it in their legs anymore.”