Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says it is “not 100 per cent fair” to judge whether his side have reached the end of their successful cycle and that such a judgment should be made at the end of the season.
The Reds have suffered back-to-back Premier League defeats against Leeds and Nottingham Forest in the past fortnight – two sides who began their games with Klopp’s side in the relegation zone – to leave the Merseyside club in ninth place, eight points off the top four and 15 behind league leaders Arsenal.
Ahead of Liverpool’s final Champions League group stage match with leaders Napoli, where the Reds must win by four goals to finish top of the group, Klopp made a strong defense of his side’s recent form after picking up just four Premier League wins in 12 games .
Asked if his Liverpool side, who have won seven major trophies in the last three years, are beginning to wane, Klopp said: “The assessment of that will come later in the season or maybe at the end of the season, where you say ‘that’s it’ for player group or for this manager if you want.
“Questions will be asked then. At this moment it’s not 100 per cent fair to judge the team because it means the squad and we didn’t have [some of] them available.
“Let’s face it, we lack top quality. With the amount of games we have, you tend to make changes and we can’t do that. It’s a similar situation in midfield, players who are out and come back. We’ve had this pretty much everywhere .
“We expect more from ourselves. The players expect more and I expect more from them. But we have to make sure we get steps.”
Klopp: I will give everything to turn this around | ‘I’m not tired’
In their last match, Liverpool gave Leeds an early start as Joe Gomez’s poor back pass went straight to visiting forward Rodrigo for a tap-in.
While Liverpool equalized through Mohamed Salah and had several chances to take the lead, Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier produced a string of impressive saves, before Crysencio Summerville gave Jesse Marsch’s side the win with an 89th-minute winner.
With his side woefully out of form, Klopp insisted he will give “everything I have or even more” to turn Liverpool’s fortunes around, but insists he is not “tired” in his role as Reds manager.
“In this game we had some good moments,” said Klopp, talking about the Leeds loss. “The Leeds goalkeeper had an exceptional game and you have to work and use that as well.
“That’s the challenge of the moment. To avoid the mistakes and keep the good stuff, and you get there step by step. It was never a quick fix, now it looks like it’s not a quick fix. But we’re not going to stop fighting.
“I didn’t read anything but everything will probably be judged on me now. People look at me and they’ll say I look tired or whatever. I’m not. I can’t give that excuse.
“My job is not just to be here in the moment when the sun is shining and someone gives us a trophy. My job is also to be there in a really tough period and I will do that with everything I have or even more, 100 percent. “
Carra: Liverpool have huge problems | Souness: They get bullied
Jamie Carragher says Liverpool are “in massive trouble” after their 2-1 defeat at Leeds, while Graeme Souness believes Klopp’s side are now “being bullied” by other teams.
“It’s a massive result for Leeds but Liverpool are in big trouble,” said Carragher Saturday Night Football.
“Leeds fans know how big a result this is. It’s been such a long time since anyone won at Anfield. They will milk it and rightly so. It will do wonders for them, in terms of the league table. This is not a blip for Liverpool, this is a serious problem.
“There’s no doubt that in the last 10-15 minutes the keeper has kept Leeds out but if you look at the whole game you can’t say that Leeds didn’t deserve to get any of it. They’ve been fantastic.
“Klopp has to think, what else can I try now? Different permutations, formations, personnel…”
Souness believes Liverpool’s aging midfield means they “just don’t have it in their legs anymore” and “don’t play with the same intensity”.
He added: “Liverpool are a mile from where they were in the last few years. In many cases, Leeds were more of a match for Liverpool and they did to Liverpool what they had done to teams for years.
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“Liverpool basically bullied teams before, their midfield bullied teams. And now they get bullied. It makes them vulnerable at the back, and they don’t create the same chances up front.
“Liverpool is a shadow [of the team they used to be].
“Liverpool still had enough chances to win the game, but they’re not the Liverpool we’ve seen in the last five years. They don’t play with the same intensity and just don’t have it in their legs anymore.”
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