“Unfathomable”… “crisis time”… and “mentality midgets.”
The post-mortem from a host of football experts was not pretty reading for Liverpool.
Jurgen Klopp even admitted it would take a “masterpiece” for him to figure out how to solve his side’s crisis after a sixth consecutive home defeat as relegation-threatened Fulham won 1-0 at Anfield on Sunday.
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The English champions have collapsed from leading the Premier League at Christmas to looking increasingly likely to miss out on next season’s Champions League.
Liverpool are seventh in the table, four points adrift of the top four, and having played more games than all of their rivals for a Champions League place.
An injury crisis has played a major part, particularly in central defence with the talismanic Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip ruled out for the season.
However, Klopp is also now under the spotlight as his decision to make seven changes from Thursday’s 1-0 defeat to Chelsea did little to aid his side’s confidence.
Liverpool’s best chance of a return to the Champions League may now be by winning that competition for a seventh time.
Klopp’s men travel to Budapest for the second leg of their last 16 tie against Leipzig on Wednesday, leading 2-0 from the first leg.
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Liverpool will need a major improvement to triumph in Europe’s elite club competition, with Jamie Carragher, who played in their 2005 Champions League winning side, claiming the current crop are “mentality midgets”.
Referencing Klopp’s tag of “mentality monsters” to describe last term’s champions, Carragher told Sky Sports: “Jurgen Klopp previously called this team mentality monsters and that was absolutely right at the times.
“But right now they are like mentality midgets. This team is just not dealing well with adversity at any point in the last four months. That’s just not acceptable at Liverpool.”
Roy Keane was even stronger in his condemnation of the current situation at the club.
“The biggest worry I’d have for Liverpool is that to me is they’re not playing as a team,” he added.
“The signs have been there for the last few months, you’re thinking ‘are they really that bad?’… It’s crisis time for Liverpool now.
“They are not playing as a team and that should be the manager’s biggest worry.”
Meanwhile, Graeme Souness believes the team have failed to present themselves with enough motivation to go to the next level after last year’s success.
“When you’re a player and you win a big trophy, that’s parked. Enjoy it for a week. Then every day you’re laying on a beach you think about the challenges coming ahead,” he said.
“I’d say some of those players haven’t done that. ‘Let’s enjoy the moment, it may never happen to us again.’
“It’s all about winning it again, and again, and again.
“It’s unfathomable. It beggars belief how a team can go from so good to so average. It’s ok asking questions about the manager but it’s about the players.
“Jurgen Klopp has found out in this moment in time what he’s got in his dressing room. Some of them haven’t stood up to the challenge.”
Pressed on Liverpool’s lack of fight, Klopp conceded their mentality could be questioned.
“The reaction football-wise was kind of OK. There are a lot of players who are not on the pitch who can’t be a leader in this moment. That is clear,” Klopp said.
“We don’t have the mentality we are used to but the boys want to win games and I saw that today. We still made mistakes and that’s the problem.
“We have to make sure the mistakes we make are not accountable. We have to make sure we win a game again. If it is 1-0 that is fine.”
Admitting their top four bid is no longer his main focus, Klopp added: “It (the top four) is really not my concern at the moment. I cannot think about that. We have to win a football game.
“We have to win one football game, that would be helpful already.”