Jurgen Klopp insists he is not “too loyal” to “underperforming” senior players, and says Liverpool will only look to bolster their squad in January if deals are “available and doable”.
And Klopp has a number of issues to sort out after admitting Saturday’s 3-0 loss to Brighton was the worst performance of his managerial career.
His side have already lost six times in the Premier League – having lost only four times in 63 matches in all competitions last season – and are 10 points behind the top four.
Speaking on the eve of the FA Cup third-round replay with Wolves, Klopp said the problems at Liverpool were “complex” and could not be solved simply by spending in the transfer window, although acknowledging the need for a boost – Liverpool have already spent up to a pound sterling. 45m over the signing of Cody Gakbo in January.
Under particular scrutiny was Liverpool’s aging midfield, with captain Jordan Henderson himself admitting Saturday’s defeat at Brighton “lacked energy”.
Henderson (32) and Fabinho (29) – who both won the club’s silverware during their time at Anfield – and 31-year-old Thiago, who arrived later but still won the Double Cup last season, remains first choice for the Reds. .
To deflect criticism, Klopp said he relied too much on the so-called old guard, he said: “I hear I’m very loyal but I’m not very loyal. The problem is very complex. If you can then go out and bring in another player to replace him, it makes sense.”
“But if you can’t bring anyone in, you can’t take anyone out. I’m not very loyal. In Dortmund before I left I said something had to change here – either a managerial change or a lot of other things had to change.
“I will stay here as long as I am required. If no one tells me to go, I will not go. It is something for the future, in the summer, not now. The only thing I want is to fix this situation – that’s all.
“Obviously there will be an important period of change. There have been injuries, but nobody is interested in that. The boys feel the responsibility, but we stick with everything we have.”
He added, “Should we step up? Oh yeah. But is this the right moment for that? I can’t see it because of the situation we’re in, I think I know exactly how it’s done, and that’s it. I can’t change the answer every week. Even when we lose Another match since the last press conference, it does not change.
Klopp: We are not stubborn
Klopp also addressed questions about whether a particularly poor run of form, exacerbated by injuries to Luis Diaz, Roberto Firmino, Diogo Jota and, most recently, Virgil van Dijk, would force the club into the January window.
“We’re looking outward, too,” he said. “It’s not that we’re stubborn and think that’s it, we’re going with these boys until 2050 or whatever. It’s not that we see it, it’s all about what we can do and these kind of things – and what you want to do. And the most important thing is what you can do.” do, and it’s always the same every year.
“I can’t change my answers – if the solutions are there for us, available and doable, then of course we’ll bring in players to help. But we’ve got a team in there too and we’re performing poorly, sure, I know that. But I can’t sit here and blame everyone, the players, All the time, it’s my responsibility.
“This is my job [get them to perform]. We have limited options but we have contract players here, they are not available. But if we put players in, we won’t be able to include all of them in the Premier League and Champions League list.”
Liverpool is struggling Q&A: Injuries, fatigue, or financial?
The cause of Liverpool’s struggle is a simple question with a multifaceted answer.
A number of factors have been invented to create the most testing current situation Klopp has faced in his time at Anfield. The boss will point to injuries: Four strikers are missing at Brighton – long absent – as well as influential centre-back Van Dijk.
Physical and mental fatigue also played a role. Klopp finally admitted on Friday that the 63-game 2021/22 season which saw Liverpool win two cups, nearly lift the Premier League and Champions League, and play in every game for which he was eligible, had taken its toll on his side. Captain Jordan Henderson confirmed after the Brighton defeat that the players lacked energy and confidence.
fatigue? Low on energy? How does that happen?
Well, on the back of the previous season’s Liverpool marathon, their starting midfield three at Brighton – Henderson (32), Thiago Alcantara (31) and Fabinho (29) – total 92 years of age. Curtis Jones missed much of the season through injury while youngster Harvey Elliott struggled in an underperforming squad.
So why didn’t Klopp activate his team?
In a word: money.
Owners group Fenway Sports Group found between £35m and £45m to bring in the PS striker this month, although it was a long-term target as they wanted to avoid interest from other clubs. Klopp wanted Aurelien Tchoamene to bolster his midfield but the France international opted for Real Madrid in the summer.
Midfield remains the area that really needs attention and the suspicion is that FSG is budgeting for a bank-breaking deal for Borussia Dortmund’s Judd Bellingham.
What can Klopp do next?
After excluding any other signatures in this window, it looks like he’ll have to dig into it.
Getting forwards Firmino and Darwin Nunez back to fitness would help but his midfield option is to put more faith in the likes of Keita and Jones and hope they can provide a refresher.
What is the short term fix for their general problems?
Finding a way to not be defensively fragile would be a start. Liverpool have conceded the first goal 21 times in their last 35 games, and they haven’t kept a clean sheet in the Premier League since October.
This is another problem that can be traced back to their midfield shortcomings, but they have looked very open in the opposing teams’ back lines knowing they will always have chances. A change in formation might help, but Klopp has already made minor adjustments without much success.
Liverpool midfield malfunction
Lewis Jones from Sky Sports:
The spotlight is shining so brightly on Liverpool’s defense at the moment, it blinds those in their line of sight – however, focusing solely on the individuals playing at center back would allow others to escape criticism.
Yes, Joel Matip was at fault for Brighton’s opening goal with a sloppy pass but up until that point, he and Ibrahim Konate had defended with great consistency and confidence. They simply had to because the pressure towards their goal was relentless from a now purring Brighton side.
And why was the heart of Liverpool’s defense so busy? Well, this stemmed from the Liverpool midfield trio of Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and Thiago, who played a very odd role in front of the forwards. It didn’t suit him.
The Brighton duo of Alexis Mac Allister and Moses Caicedo have made the Liverpool trio look like they are considering playing in the Veteran’s League.
The midfield is the heart of Jurgen Klopp’s team – when it breaks down, as it does now, the front line and the back line suffer. This Liverpool team is not only dysfunctional, it threatens to spiral out of control.