Liverpool are currently going through a tough spell, both on and off the field. Their start to the season is something unprecedented over the previous 5 or 6 years under the current management. But the weekend’s result highlights that the issues run deeper than just a lack of personnel as reports emerge that boss Jürgen Klopp has lost the dressing room.
Despite picking up what seemed like a season-changing victory over Premier League champions Man City last weekend and following it up with a narrow win over West Ham a few days later, Liverpool suffered a 1-0 loss at bottom of the league Nottingham Forest on Saturday, their 3rd league defeat of the season.
The result leaves the Reds in 8th position, 5 points off Newcastle in 4th and 12 points behind league-leaders Arsenal. Liverpool have only won 7 of their opening 15 fixtures across all competitions this campaign, with 3 of those victories coming in the UEFA Champions League.
The Liverpool squad also seem like a shadow of their former selves, with the defence, midfield and attack all experiencing a vast drop in performance compared to last season, where they were 2 games away from winning the quadruple and going down as one of, if not the best club side ever.
Only goalkeeper Alisson has performed in line with what we’ve become accustomed to, bailing his side out on numerous occasions already.
But the defence, which Klopp said contained many of the world’s best in their position, have looked shaky, to say the least. Right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold has come under major scrutiny this season as his attacking output hasn’t been as potent as it was last campaign, leading to his defensive deficiencies being further highlighted and often criticized.
Initially, there had been some doubt regarding Trent’s spot in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the World Cup. But after Reece James picked up an injury ruling him out the tournament and Kyle Walker also potentially being unavailable through an injury, the Liverpool fullback is likely to be on the plane to Qatar.
Centre-back Virgil Van Dijk has also looked a bit out of sorts this season. The Dutchman missed practically the entire 2020/2021 campaign through injury, but returned to full fitness last season, putting in solid performances throughout the year that saw him voted into the PFA Premier League Team of the Year.
However, Van Dijk has seen a drop-off in form lately that has coincided with Liverpool slumping down the table. The 2019 Ballon d’Or runner-up hasn’t played a major tournament with his national side, Holland. This could be a factor in the defender’s downturn in performance as, he aims to avoid injury which would rule him out of the World Cup.
READ HERE: Is This the Reason for Van Dijk’s Poor Form?
Klopp has been in charge of the Reds since 2015, winning everything there is to win at club level. But the German has a history of having the wheels fall off during the 7th season he’s in charge of a club, which could be what we’re seeing at Liverpool currently.
Former Man United midfielder Paul Scholes claims that there is already a rift growing between the manager and the players, stating the exclusion of Jordan Henderson from the starting XI could be a result of a falling out between the Club captain and Klopp.
“He has Jordan Henderson on the bench, he should be playing,” Scholes told Premier League Productions. “He is the leader of the team. He’s the captain and the one, the Casemiro type of role, and he gets everyone ticking around.
“He seems to have fallen out with him or carrying an injury. There is something not quite right there.”
Van Dijk revealed in a recent interview with Gary Neville on The Overlap Xtra that Klopp shouts a lot, citing a game where he avoided looking at the manager out of fear of a berating.
“Oh yeah plenty of times, yeah,” said Van Dijk in response to being asked if Klopp has ever shouted at him.
“Not in my face though, because I feel like screaming in someone’s face could be a little disrespectful, but when it’s needed he will definitely do it, but he shouts a lot.
“When we played Fulham at the start of the season and in the last five minutes, I was trying to go more direct and he was shouting at me that we had to play a little bit more. I know he was shouting from the side so I wasn’t looking at him or trying to acknowledge him because I knew for a fact that he was going to go after me. It is what it is.”
Klopp will be hoping that he’s able to turn his side’s fortunes around amid fears the players have grown tired of his approach, and potentially needing a new voice to motivate them. Furthermore, many of the players have been at the Club for long and don’t possess the same engine required in a Klopp system as they once did. Liverpool fans will be expecting a big response from their side as the Reds travel to Amsterdam on Wednesday, to take on Dutch champions Ajax in the UCL. Klopp’s men just need to avoid defeat to secure a spot in the Round of 16.