Having described Liverpool’s shock home defeat to Burnley on Thursday as a “punch in the face”, Jürgen Klopp has gone on to label it “a really low point”, but believes it could be just what his team need to halt a run of form that threatens to derail their season.
Liverpool find themselves in fourth and six points behind the leaders, Manchester United – whom they face in the fourth-round of the FA Cup on Sunday – after the 1-0 loss, which was the first time they had failed to take points from a league game at Anfield in 1,369 days and the fifth league game in a row they had failed to record a victory. That period has seen the champions score once and not at all in four successive outings.
Little wonder, then, that Klopp is not attempting to sugarcoat how poorly his players are performing – which includes describing talk of them retaining the title as silly – but he has backed them to improve sooner rather than later, partly because of the trust he has in their talent and temperament and partly because he views Thursday’s setback as being so bad that it serves as a wake-up call.
“We lost that game and it was a really low point, and sometimes you need a really low point to change things properly,” he said. “If we’d won in a bad game, like somehow 1-0, the world would have said ‘OK it’s not the football they usually play but they’re back on the right result path’, but in long-term it wouldn’t have helped. [What happened against Burnley] can be a real help if we use it.
“When you have the success we have had there are two directions – one is keeping going exactly on the same level, which is difficult. The other is it gets a little less. In the moment it feels a lot less and that is what we have to change.
“We are ready for the fight, we are ready for the battle. I’m not in doubt about the group. They are brilliant people and brilliant characters. All of them.”
Liverpool’s first chance to show a positive reaction to the Burnley defeat comes at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon, in the only competition Liverpool have failed to reach the final of since Klopp took charge a little over five years ago. It is perhaps no surprise, therefore, that the visitors will be close to full-strength against their bitter rivals, with the manager confirming Mohamed Salah will definitely start, having been on the bench in midweek.
Klopp also insisted the Egyptian is not becoming an unwanted distraction, following the recent interview he gave to Norwegian channel TV2 in which he was vague about his long-term future and which followed the interview he gave to the Spanish newspaper AS just before Christmas in which he expressed his admiration for Barcelona and Real Madrid.
“That’s normal in football – we don’t go out and talk about things we think are important. We get asked questions and we answer them, and that’s the end of the story,” said Klopp. “So no, it will not distract us.”