It’s been a season to forget for Klopp, as Liverpool sit 9th in the Premier League, suffering defeat after defeat just one year after they were tipped by some to win the quadruple.
They have just two wins in eight games, and Liverpool fans have been left questioning what their ‘rock bottom’ is, as every week it just seems to get worse for the Reds.
Some of their shocking plunges to new depths include being humiliated by Thomas Frank’s Brentford, who continue to break the top 6.
That was followed by a draw to Wolves in the FA Cup third round, where somehow VAR had the most embarrassing performance of the evening, gifting Liverpool a replay.
Brighton annihilated the Reds 3-0 in the league, before knocking them out of the FA Cup just two weeks later.
Most recently, Wolverhampton Wanderers – the lowest scoring side in the league – destroyed Liverpool at the Molineux 3-0.
Klopp’s mentality monsters are beginning to look like mentality minnows, with Premier League sides thinking they can come away from what used to be such a difficult fixture with three points.
A win at Anfield – and a good performance with all credit due – against 18th placed Everton might disguise their poor form somewhat, but it could be easily re-exposed in the coming weeks. The Reds travel to 4th place Newcastle next, before hosting the current holders of the Champions League; Real Madrid.
Questionable decisions made by the manager, a lack of preparation for the future, underperforming players, and a shoestring budget to work with, who is to blame for Liverpool’s downfall? Is it Fenway Sports Group (FSG), the players, or will the punishment lie on Klopp’s head?
Let’s think back to 2020. Liverpool FC have won the Premier League and the Champions League, and are one of the scariest teams in Europe, with fun, electric and downright deadly attacks, with an indestructible defence.
With Jurgen Klopp at the helm, and a big budget due to smart spending, most world class players would’ve done anything for a transfer to Liverpool, but they didn’t seem to take full advantage of this, which has punished them in the long run.
In the attacking department, Liverpool have spent well, and you can’t blame FSG for not investing. A whole new bunch of fresh faces have come in, such as Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz, Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo.
These arrivals have been made majorly when Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino have all been at the club to slowly take their places and add pace back into the front three as the original attack ages. They have replaced the likes of Sadio Mane, Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino.
In defence, the investment has not been as heavy, but they have still signed Kostas Tsimikas as an understudy to Andy Robertson, and one of Europe’s most sought-of centre backs in Ibrahima Konate.
Tsimikas hasn’t set the world alight and Konate came a year too late. Liverpool were stuck in a perfect storm, where their defence is good enough to win any trophy (as they’ve proved before) but they couldn’t sign world class players as they wouldn’t get game time or could disrupt a good foundation to the team.
Victims of their own doing, Liverpool had a centre back crisis in 2020/21, before the signing of Konate, as they had no centre backs due to injury.
The midfield is the main problem for Klopp. In the last four-and-a-half years, Thiago Alcantara is the only player to have come to Anfield (not on a loan deal) to play in centre midfield – and the transfer inactivity is coming back to bite the Reds, and FSG.
Some would argue that whilst his technical ability is majestic, he doesn’t fit the hungry, fierce, and fast style of play that Klopp operates.
He is a luxury player who can win games with hard workers around him, but he just has tired, overworked and ageing players next to him.
Adam Lallana and Gini Wijnaldum haven’t been replaced and Jordan Henderson has done everything he needs to achieve in a Liverpool shirt, winning the Premier League and the Champions League, and should be playing a rotation role at best.
Fabinho has suffered a gigantic drop in form and looks like he could never relive his best years in a Liverpool shirt. James Milner is on the verge of retirement, whilst Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are unreliable and out of contract at the end of the year.
Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott, whilst both promising, haven’t lived up to early hype and seem to lack the physicality and pace to compete at such a high level so young.
Spending £100m on Jude Bellingham or Aurelien Tchouameni would be nice, and would undoubtably add star quality to their midfield, but Liverpool don’t need a single midfielder, they need a whole revamp on a tired midfield that lacks pace and energy.
There are always bargains to be had in football, and when you delve into the right market, sometimes the lesser players will bring that hunger and tenacity to a side like Liverpool in a way that a luxury player never could.
Newcastle signed Bruno Guimaraes, Brighton signed Moises Caicedo, and Fulham signed Joao Paulinha all for relatively cheap over the last couple of seasons. All these players would start in Liverpool’s current midfield, but their scouting hasn’t been sharp enough.
With some more planning from Klopp, and a bolder transfer approach from FSG, Liverpool could’ve started to reshape their midfield like they have done with their attack. Their defence is unprotected and their attack unsupported, and the whole team is paying the price on the pitch.
With £150m provided to Klopp in the last year – more than Arsenal and Manchester City – should the blame lie with the manager for the lack of spending specifically on the midfield?
Could he also be to blame for the lack of end product from his signings, and the team in general? He is adored by the fans and has been the most successful Liverpool manager since the days of Bob Paisley and Bill Shankly, but is his stubbornness is holding his team back?
Klopp still picks the same team and formation from a few years back and teams need to adapt and change to avoid getting exposed, which is happening to key players.
Trent Alexander-Arnold’s defending can’t be trusted, Virgil Van Dijk is a shadow of the player he was and comes across ‘passive’, and you can cut through Fabinho like a hot knife through butter.
Even when it all goes wrong, which it has many times this season conceding the first time in 21 out of 36 matches, mercurial talent Mo Salah is the one who always seems to get Liverpool out of a hole, but even he isn’t having that same impact this season.
Salah, alongside Firmino and Mane, was the most threatening of Europe’s deadliest trio. On 102 occasions out of a possible 152, Klopp started the three alongside each other and their individual traits were engrained. The goalscoring of Salah and Mane, coupled with the dropping deep of Firmino left defences baffled and pundits rethinking how they analyse strikers.
Salah has seen his goals drop below his expected goals (xG) this season, but he very well could be suffering from a ‘proper’ number 9 in the side, in Nunez, with the Egyptian King being moved wider to pick up more assists. He is probably also struggling from consistency from teammates, who still must take some responsibility for their slump.
The mentality monsters have become mentality minnows, and the tough, unbreakable, fierce-pressing side has become a side that gives up, loses by margins, and is easy to pass through.
The lack of transfers leaves Klopp with a lot of players from his team of winners from a few years back, and some of Europe’s finest, so it is unacceptable to see experienced professionals lack fight, and upsetting to see the younger players lack it.
Forget flair and signings such as Thiago, Klopp has built a team from worse than this before based on hard work, fight, and attitude. He needs to re-establish the core principles that made the Liverpool team his – like he did against Everton.
If it doesn’t improve though, will Klopp be the man losing his job, or has his former success made him immune to the sack? The board, the manager and the players all must take responsibility, but Liverpool will certainly be an interesting watch for the rest of the season to see if they can build towards a positive next season.