Jurgen Klopp insists it is unfair to conclude that this Liverpool squad has reached the end of its cycle and says judgement must be reserved until the season ends.
Liverpool’s manager accepts his team is under siege at present, with Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Leeds leaving them closer to the drop zone than the top four; Champions League qualification is a minimum requirement for owners Fenway Sports Group and the target is in jeopardy.
It could even be that Liverpool’s best hope of being in the competition next year is by winning this season’s renewal but not even the most ardent fan would be prepared to wager on that outcome being realised in Istanbul next June, given the erratic form they have shown.
Klopp has reiterated his belief will be no quick fix to Liverpool’s issues but, in an impassioned defence of his group, the German stressed they have the desire to keep fighting – and he has not lost his appetite for the battle ahead.
During a press conference ahead of Tuesday’s final group stage clash with Napoli, Klopp gave an answer that was six minutes long and, during the course of it, covered every aspect of criticism that has been aimed at Liverpool.
He said, “We are obviously all out there and do the job in public and I think the judgement for this will be later in the season or maybe at the end of the season where we say ok, “obviously now that is it for this group of players or whatever for this manager if you want”.
“The question will be asked then but in the moment it is not 100 per cent fair to judge the team – that means the squad – because we never had them available. Especially now upfront, top quality, which is not helpful.
“That doesn’t mean the others are not top quality but with the number of games we had we would usually make changes and we can’t do that. It is a very similar situation in midfield for a long time, plenty of players who were out came back and then out.
“We had it pretty much everywhere. Even if it is unfair, it is fine, it is normal, that’s our life, you are absolutely right to ask these questions but we have to answer that later on. We are all, I don’t know exactly what the word is, out there to be judged.
“It is completely fine. Manager, players that is how life is in professional football, but in this moment I don’t think about it all. We have to go through this and if you want to get out of something, very often first of all you have to go through it. That is what we are doing.”
Liverpool need to beat Napoli by four goals to win the group but Klopp is not giving that outcome too much thought. He will finalise his team on Tuesday morning after training and Ibrahima Konate could return at the heart of the defence.
- The Daily Mail report