Jurgen Klopp has backed Roberto Firmino to overcome a difficult campaign and prove his worth to Liverpool once again.
The Brazilian’s form has been the subject of much debate among supporters, with his record of six goals in 43 appearances this season hardly befitting a man wearing the No.9 jersey at Anfield.
Klopp, though, remains the 29-year-old’s biggest advocate, and dismissed suggestions the former Hoffenheim man is in decline. Instead, he sees Firmino’s struggles as a natural product of Liverpool’s lack of stability and consistency throughout a miserable campaign.
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What’s been said?
Klopp told reporters: "It [Firmino’s form] is a mixture of the season, 100 per cent, but as well, when the boys up front don't score as often as we're used to then that doesn't help!
"But anyway, we are not in dreamland, so you can go through these periods. But, of course, it is temporary and not forever. There is no doubt about that.
“Bobby is not old or tired or lost everything, not at all. We see everything in training, but we need to make sure we bring that more often on the pitch. That is not only for Bobby either, but you asked about him. That is a general thing for us.
“The season is not one where we got into a proper flow and things were clicking game after game. We had to work incredibly hard and when you have to work incredibly hard you think about different things.
“So let me say it like this, when we lost our defence and stability a bit because of injuries, everybody had to play differently to protect the defence. That means you play a yard further back, or two, or five, or 10. That keeps your focus away from an offensive situation because you would think already that when you lose the ball you have to get it back.
"So there are a lot of complex things that have happened this year and so far it was why this is the season we saw. There are absolutely no excuses, and I hope that is clear, but it is a description.
"Bobby is a good example of that but he is in a good moment, he trains really well and that is good.”
What happens if Liverpool miss out on the Champions League?
Klopp admitted on Friday that it “doesn’t look likely” that Liverpool will finish in the top four of the Premier League this season.
That will naturally impact on the club financially, and would affect their ability to strengthen their squad as they wish to in the summer.
But Klopp says that there will be no period of mourning at Anfield next season, with the focus firmly on recovery and improvement.
He said: "It's not a problem. We are not kids in a candy shop who are not getting the candies and so we just stand there.
"We are responsible for the situation we are in and nobody will watch next season's Champions League in front of the television, crying because we are not involved.
"That is football and it is completely normal. So that will not be a challenge. If someone was struggling with that, hopefully, I would see that and realise it early to sort it. I am pretty sure I would recognise it early!
“Again, the good things we did in the last few years we did together and this season we did together as well. And the reaction to this season we will show together as well, that is clear.”