Danny Murphy has blamed the “complacency” of several Liverpool players for the Reds’ slow start to the season.
Jurgen Klopp’s men face Ajax in the Champions League on Tuesday night.
They are aiming to bounce back after Napoli battered them 4-1 in Naples last Wednesday.
Liverpool’s start in the Premier League has also been substandard having won only two of their opening six encounters.
The exit of Sadio Mane will have had an effect in some way, though the club’s poor performances can not all be down to the forward’s departure for Bayern Munich.
Klopp has been without several first-team players this term, with the likes of Jordan Henderson and Ibrahima Konate out until after this month’s international break.
Darwin Nunez’s three-match suspension in the Premier League did not help proceedings either.
Usual star players such as Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson, Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah have been performing poorly by their high standards.
Other players such as James Milner and Joe Gomez have also struggled, drawing criticism from ex-Ajax player Rafael van der Vaart as a result.
Former Reds midfielder Murphy insists he will not go “overboard” but does feel like there is “an air of complacency among some of the players”.
Speaking on talkSPORT, Murphy singled out Van Dijk, Alexander-Arnold and Salah.
“We’ve got to be careful to not go too overboard on this but my feeling is there’s an air of complacency among some of the players,” he said.
“They’ve fallen into what some managers call a ‘comfort zone’. Of course they go out with good intentions but when you know you’re going to play nearly every game… I think that can cause complacency at times.
“When I talk about complacency I aim it at him [Van Dijk] a lot, as well as Trent Alexander-Arnold and some of the other lads are but I think he’s guilty of it.
“There’s a little bit of lethargy about his play, like he’s playing in third gear.
“He looks like he’s playing protecting an injury. I don’t think he is but that’s the way it looks.”
Murphy added: “Salah’s another one. Salah needs a kick.
“It’s nothing to do with the contract he signed but sometimes you need it. When you’ve scored that many goals and do what he’s done sometimes you just need upstairs to say ‘come on.’
“If it means digging someone out in front of the rest of the lads, I’ve seen it before, the best midfielder Liverpool have ever had in history [Steven Gerrard]. I remember seeing at half time in a Champions League game being told to get a shower. Nobody saw that coming!”
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