Liverpool started the season very poorly. We can already say that Klopp’s team will definitely not participate in the Premier League title race. Let’s highlight 3 reasons for such a poor start.
1. Mane’s departure
The hallmark of Klopp’s Liverpool in the mature stages was a great attacking trio. Salah and Mane stimulated each other to progress through correspondence competition in the scorer’s race, and Firmino diligently played along and took over the job in the center of the field. When the Brazilian began to give up, Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz arrived – not so cool, but diverse quality players. Klopp rotated, but the brightest game of Salah and Mane over a long distance provided Liverpool with a stable set of points – the opponents sometimes managed to close one of them, and no one managed to block the oxygen at the same time for both.
This summer, Sadio Mane moved to Bayern in search of new experiences. Liverpool did not skimp on the replacement and signed Darwin Nunez from Benfica for 75 million euros. In theory, it was a good choice – the Uruguayan is just as energetic and goal-oriented, can close two positions in attack, and knows how to work under pressure. But in fact, other problems surfaced – already in the second match for Liverpool, Darwin received an idiotic red card and received a three-game suspension. This is all the dampness of Nunez, who has so far scored only three goals for the new team. He recently admitted that he does not understand anything that Klopp says. Consequently, there are problems not only with gaming but also with everyday adaptation. Whether Darwin will sparkle after a while is an open question, but so far he has definitely failed to replace Mane.
“I think he told himself that he was under pressure or something like that,” says Klopp. – He needs to calm down. He moves around the field uncommonly, if you saw his implementation in training, you would think: “Oh my God!” But during matches, he is a little in a hurry, he just needs to be calmer in such episodes and use his skill to the fullest. Nothing else needs to be changed.”
Indirectly, the absence of Sadio also affected Salah – so far he has 5 goals and 4 assists in 12 games of the season. Not alarming statistics for an ordinary football player, but very weak for a player of Mohamed’s level. Firmino, Jota, and Diaz are not able to guarantee goals in every match with any opponent, hence the difficulty in converting the advantage. For example, Liverpool is second only to Man City this season in terms of shots on goal and only fourth in shots on target.
“The week has been crazy. I have experienced a lot, but the latest events make me feel like a witch has visited our house. Every day someone dropped out of the squad for the craziest reasons,” – Jurgen Klopp said in August.
Right now, Liverpool has three midfielders injured at once – Jones, Keita, and Oxlade-Chamberlain. Before them, Konate, Matip, Jota, Fabinho, Robertson, and Thiago dropped out for long periods. Klopp was able to enter only 14 players for the match against Manchester United. Yes, what to talk about, even if in the last game with Arsenal, Liverpool managed to immediately lose two starting players – Diaz and Alexander-Arnold.
It seems that Klopp’s desire to play at a distance with a short clip affected the functional state of the players. Last summer, the European Championship was held, followed by a short pre-season and now a hyper-saturated schedule due to the winter World Cup. Probably, the leaders of Liverpool simply cannot withstand the loads when playing at such a pace. Do not forget that the Merseysiders rely on pressure and active work without the ball, which further increases the risk of damage.
3. Trouble in the center of the field
If you now open the news section on the Liverpool tag, you will see that in recent months rumors have regularly appeared that the club is going to sign a central midfielder and negotiations have already started with many. Bellingham, Milinkovic-Savic, Tielemans, Brozovic – all of them, to one degree or another, are associated with a possible transfer to Anfield.
And here, too, there is Klopp’s indirect fault. In the summer, he said that there was no need to sign another central midfielder, given the presence of promising Jones, Elliott, and Carvalho in the squad. But at the very end of the transfer window, Liverpool realized the mistake – the young did not pull in the role of starting players, and an epidemic of injuries swept over the veterans. It got to the point that 36-year-old James Milner began to appear regularly on the field. The Reds tried to plug the hole by loaning Arthur Melo from Juventus, but it quickly became clear that he was not at the level of the base and also had health problems.
So far, Liverpool’s priority target is Jude Bellingham from Borussia D. But in Dortmund, they are not going to part with one of the leaders and vice-captain before the summer of 2023, and Klopp needs to strengthen the center of the field as soon as possible. So, probably, already in the winter, Liverpool will finally invest in a serious midfielder.
Let’s touch on the issue of motivation in a tangential way. It is clear that this thought is more of a guess, but still, one should not lose sight of the fact that for several years in a row Liverpool has been playing at the maximum pace with a focus on results in all competitions. Remember last season – until the last weeks, Liverpool fought for victories everywhere they participated, but lost in the Champions League final and lost the Premier League gold in the last round. Such a pace of work and concentration emasculate even the coolest stars. And the lack of sane rotation only exacerbates the problems.
Maybe Liverpool just needs to take the time to restart. Klopp will not deserve a sack even if he fights for survival in the Premier League until the end of the season. It so happened that a whole heap of problems collapsed on the team, which are simply unrealistic to sort out here and now. Well, Klopp and Liverpool have no choice but to bite the bullet and get through this damned season