Jamie Carragher believes Liverpool only have the sixth-best squad in the Premier League and need “a different plan” if they are to improve.
The Reds had been hoping to position themselves in another title battle this season – their first full campaign with Jurgen Klopp at the helm.
A promising start had them well positioned at the turn of the calendar year, but a sorry run of form through 2017 has threatened to undermine all of their hard work.
Carragher says Champions League qualification would still be a step in the right direction but feels the Reds are over-reliant on the ability of their manager at present, rather than the playing staff.
"People will keep saying they have played a lot of the top teams but in their next home games they have got Tottenham and Arsenal,” Carragher told Sky Sports.
"You would expect them to do well in those games, they always do, but the majority of matches they have struggled in have come against teams in the bottom half of the table. That's where they have major problems.
"Off the back of the cup exits, the only thing left for Liverpool is to qualify for the Champions League. If they do, I still think it would make a successful season.
"Liverpool have got the sixth-best squad in the league for me, but I think the quality of the manager puts them where they are."
While an admirer of Klopp and his ability to carry a club, Carragher believes the German has put too much faith in his famed ‘gegenpressing’ approach – even when performances have required a tactical tweak.
He added: "It's getting to the stage now when Liverpool have got to have a different plan," Carragher added.
"We talk about a Plan B but Liverpool have just one plan. It worked outstanding in the first four or five months of the season but they are in a sticky patch at the moment and I think it's obvious how you set up against them.
"You make it difficult through the centre of the pitch and you counter attack. That's what Hull did and they did it outstandingly well."