Jurgen Klopp’s “position as manager is not under any pressure”, says John Barnes, with a Liverpool legend confident that no reckless decisions will be made during an unfortunate run of form at Anfield.
The reigning Premier League champions have tumbled off the loftiest of perches this season, with unwanted records being set by a team that made positive history in 2019-20 when capturing a first domestic crown in 30 years.
Uncharacteristic struggles are being endured by Klopp’s side, leading to inevitable finger pointing, but Barnes believes continuity and stability will be sought on Merseyside regardless of how an eventful campaign plays out.
What has been said?
“If Jurgen Klopp gets his players back from injury and they are still playing in this poor form, then questions will continue to be asked, but what is currently going on has nothing to do with the manager,” Reds icon Barnes, speaking in association with BonusCodeBets, told Goal.
“Liverpool must finish in the top four and compete in the Champions League, but I am not writing off this season.
“Liverpool still have matches to play and to finish in the top four and win the Champions League, they need to be winning matches.
“Liverpool aren’t going to win the Premier League this season and Jurgen Klopp’s position as manager is not under any pressure.”
Why are questions being asked of Liverpool?
The Reds have suffered a humbling fall from grace, with a string of untimely injuries conspiring against them.
Key men such as Virgil van Dijk, Alisson, Joe Gomez, Diogo Jota and Jordan Henderson have all spent time on the treatment table.
With the naming of a settled starting XI proving impossible, Liverpool have struggled to maintain the standards set in Champions League and Premier League triumphs.
Four successive defeats on home soil have been suffered for the first time in 98 years, while four consecutive setbacks in English top-flight competition represent the club’s worst run since 2002.
Barnes added on the difficulties at Anfield: “Jurgen Klopp should expect to face uncomfortable questions during this tricky period for Liverpool, regardless of his success in the last two seasons.
“People think there’s a reason why things have happened this way and they will feel that it’s down to second season syndrome with Liverpool winning the league and the squad falling into complacency, but it’s none of that.
“Liverpool are missing four players, two-centre backs which results in their two most influential midfield players having to play in defence and therefore results in different types of players playing in midfield which affects the front four and the full-backs, so it comes down the personnel not being available for Liverpool.
“This completely changes the way they play with the high press and passing fluidity, having a really negative effect on the team.
“Manchester City have enough players in their squad that when they lose three or four players to injuries, as they have done at points this season, they can still play well.
“And, they have a lot of players who suit the style of play that City plays, so when new players come into the team, it fits perfectly.
“Whereas Liverpool have lost a few players to injury and have players who have come in and aren’t the same personnel, which affects the team.”
The bigger picture
Klopp has already been forced to throw in a title towel, with a top-four finish now representing the height of Liverpool’s ambition.
They have slipped to sixth in the Premier League, five points adrift of the Champions League spots with 13 games left to take in.
A season that promised so much can still be salvaged there, while a 2-0 victory over RB Leipzig in the first leg of an eagerly-anticipated last-16 encounter in Europe has the Reds on course for more European glory.