Jürgen Klopp has said judgment should be reserved until the end of the season on whether Liverpool have reached the end of a cycle and need rebuilding. Liverpool are closer on points to the bottom of the Premier League than the top four after winning four of 12 Premier League games this season, with Saturday’s home defeat by struggling Leeds giving Klopp a sleepless night.
The Liverpool manager believes injuries are a major reason for this season’s toils but when asked whether he felt this team are in decline he accepted it was a legitimate question that could be answered only at the conclusion of the campaign. In a response lasting more than six minutes, Klopp conceded there was no quick fix and that he and his players had to accept the criticism coming their way.
“The judgment for this should come later on in the season or maybe at the end,” he said. “If you say that’s it for this group of players, or for this manager, I don’t think that’s 100% fair in this moment, or to judge the team or the squad, because we never had them available.
“With the amount of games we have we would usually make changes, but we cannot do that.
“Even if it’s unfair, it’s fine. It’s normal, it’s our life, and it’s absolutely fair to ask these questions. But we have to answer that later on. We are all out there to be judged, manager, players.
“That’s how life is in professional football. If you want to get out of something, first of all you have to go through it and that’s what we are doing. Yes, with some highlights, but with some blows as well. You can judge single moments.
“The second [Leeds] goal, I still woke up at night. But there’s a reason why it happened – the boys wanted to win the game instead of defending the draw. We expect more from ourselves, the boys expect more, I expect more from them. But we have to make sure that we get there with steps. That’s the challenge in the moment. Avoiding the mistakes and keeping the good stuff.”
Liverpool host Napoli in the Champions League on Tuesday with both teams having qualified for the knockout stage. Liverpool need to better Napoli’s 4-1 win in last month’s opening game to replace them at the top of Group A. Klopp, who believes the Serie A leaders are Europe’s most in-form side, has vowed to give everything to lead his club through their troubled period.
“It was never a quick fix, but we will not stop fighting,” he said. “I didn’t read anything, but probably everything will be judged about me now, which is absolutely fine.
“When people look at me and say he looks tired or whatever, I’m not. My job is not only being here when the sun is shining and somebody gives us a trophy. My job is to be there when we have to go through a really rough period as well and I will do that, with all I have and even more if possible.
“This is the third time we had Napoli here. It was never an easy game. We won one, a very important one [in 2018 to qualify for the knockout stages], and the other one [in November 2019] was a draw. It was always tough and this year especially so, but we are already through in the group which is positive, and now let’s make something special out of this game.
“The whole thing starts with winning the first challenge. Celebrate it in the stands and on the pitch, not by running around, just by feeling it. That’s the first step in the right direction. I’m ready for that and the people after the [Leeds] game gave me the sign they are ready for it too.
“It was not the longest lap of appreciation we ever had but when we hear the people singing you realise it is really special.
“It’s a rough moment, no doubt about it, and nobody is flying here like everything is great, but there’s only one way to face it: go for it.”
The defender Ibrahima Konaté could make his second start of an injury-hit season but despite the situation in Group A and the importance of Sunday’s league trip to Tottenham Klopp said this “is not a game for rotation”.