LAST year, they were champions of England, Europe and the world.
Currently, Liverpool are probably not even the best team in Liverpool.
An FA Cup win over rivals Manchester United could revive Liverpool’s stuttering seasonCredit: AP:Associated Press
The end of a staggering 68-match unbeaten Premier League home run with defeat by Burnley on Thursday means that Jurgen Klopp’s men have failed to beat five of the bottom six teams in the table during the past two months.
They haven’t scored in more than seven hours of league football and if Everton win one of their two games in hand, the Reds would be overtaken by their local neighbours and fall out of the Champions League places.
Given Liverpool’s relentlessness over the past two seasons, this all represents a cliff-edge drop in form.
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Nobody should write them off as title contenders – certainly not during this season, when the managers of every ‘big six’ have found themselves in crisis at some stage.
But Klopp – who dropped Mo Salah and engaged in a fiery half-time spat with Burnley boss Sean Dyche on Thursday – is struggling to cope with such an extreme downturn in fortunes.
The German was in an abrupt and tetchy mood when he faced the cameras before Sunday’s FA Cup visit to Manchester United.
The Cup has never been Klopp’s priority – he hasn’t reached the quarter-finals in five previous attempts and has often fielded weak teams.
But defeat by United, in whatever competition, can never be shrugged off – especially with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men top of the league, and Klopp in desperate need of a mood-altering result.
But confidence didn’t disappear so that we can’t find it – we just have to work
Klopp said: “Confidence is not naturally given, to normal people at least.
“Some things have to work out so you can build confidence and it didn’t work out, at least in the final third, for us in the last few games.
“But confidence didn’t disappear so that we can’t find it – we just have to work.
“I like to see in every bad situation there is an opportunity – and I do see it that way.
“United are obviously in a good moment but we want to win this game, that is clear, and that is how we will decide the line-up.”
Klopp says he discusses transfer targets on an ‘almost daily basis’ but reiterated that he does not have the final say on new recruits.
Liverpool have considered signing a centre-back after Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez were ruled out for the season – but with a £100million drop in revenue due to behind-closed-doors football, there is unlikely to be a major new signing.
The Anfield chief said: “Of course somebody else is making the decisions, it was always like that, if people are surprised about that, I can’t change that.
“We discuss pretty much on a daily basis whether we could improve (the squad) or not and I make recommendations but I cannot spend the money, that’s now it is. I don’t make these decisions and I never did.”
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