Liverpool need leaders to get their title bid back on track, says Paul Ince, with the likes of Virgil van Dijk and James Milner told they “need to step up”.
There are not too many negatives which could be aimed at the Reds this season, with only goal difference keeping them off the top of the Premier League table.
Just one defeat has been suffered through 25 games and they are safely through to the last 16 of the Champions League.
A few bumps in the road have been hit of late, though, with back-to-back 1-1 draws with Leicester City and West Ham seeing the nerve of a side without a title triumph in 29 years called into question.
Former Liverpool midfielder Ince believes tired bodies and minds are starting to feel the pace, with it imperative that those Jurgen Klopp looks to for on-field inspiration now deliver on expectations.
The ex-Reds star told Paddy Power: “The lack of confidence and fatigue they seem to be experiencing at the minute could cost them big.
“This is where leaders are crucial – Virgil van Dijk and James Milner need to step up.
“They need to reassure the team that there’s a long way to go yet, and steady the ship.
“There are plenty of Liverpool players who haven’t won anything yet, so it’s unsurprising that the pressure is mounting on them.
“Jurgen Klopp’s behaviour from now on is crucial, he needs to bring that confidence back to the players and make sure they don’t doubt themselves.
“Man City have got the experience of winning it before and that’s what Liverpool are up against.
“Liverpool also need to be wary of Tottenham. At the minute, they’re playing their football knowing that the eyes are nearly all on the top two.
“In fact, they’re only two points behind City now and should be taken more seriously as a threat.”
Ince is hoping that Liverpool can avoid another season of what ifs, with there having been too many of those of late for a side starved of tangible success.
He added: “There’ll be a lot of people asking questions if they miss out on winning the league this year after missing out on the Champions League last year.
“I personally still see getting into the final as a massive achievement, and if they almost win the league this year, that shows improvement from Klopp. But, the question will they be asked about whether or not they’re capable of winning anything.
“It will always be asked if you keep failing year after year. Whether it’s deserved or not.”
Liverpool will be back in Premier League action on Saturday when they play host to Bournemouth.