Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is prepared to abandon idealism and ‘win ugly’ to secure Champions League qualification following the injury to Sadio Mane.
Klopp confirmed Mane could miss the final eight games, and without so many first teamers the Anfield coach is ready to embrace trench warfare to drag his side back into the European elite.
Divock Origi is expected to face Bournemouth on Wednesday, although Trent Alexander-Arnold is also in contention and Klopp also hinted at a possible formation change.
“The line-up we will choose is to make them as strong, as compact and as ugly to play as possible,” said Klopp.
“The best plan in the world is only as good as the players.
“We should think about how we can defend, not how dominant we can be. Maybe we can surprise one of the other teams with good organisation, good defending, good counter-attacks. Why not?”
Klopp rejected the idea Liverpool are facing inferior sides in their run-in.
“We should stop thinking about this idea of weaker teams. Football is a game, as I understand it, with no weaker team,” he said.
He also pointed out Liverpool have already beaten many of those face in the run-in.
That is true, but last season - in the fixtures corresponding to their remaining games - Liverpool won just eight from 21 points against Bournemouth, Southampton and Crystal Palace at home, and West Brom, Stoke, Watford and West Ham away (Middlesbrough, who Liverpool must also still play, were still in The Championship).
Asked if Mane will miss the final eight games, Klopp replied: “Unfortunately, that is possible. The knee is swollen and we have to wait for the final assessment.”
Mane has 13 goals this season, and when Liverpool were last without him they won just once in seven fixtures – at home to Plymouth in the FA Cup.
"The big problem in January was not only Sadio missing - everyone would miss Sadio. Southampton probably still miss him, Red Bull Salzburg miss him,” said Klopp.
"It was such a hard moment in January. We had these games, it was not the freshest moment of the season.
"Then missing Sadio in the shape he was, plus missing Phil (Coutinho), was not perfect.”
Despite the concerns, Klopp said he would not tolerate despondency.
"My job is to find solutions,” said Klopp.
“This is a good situation: we have 59 points, we are in a nice position - yes a few teams have played less games than we have but they cannot win them all because they have to play each other.
"The whole season is to prepare the finish and this is the finishing part of the season. Eight games to go. We expect results from ourselves, we want to fight for everything.”
On a more positive note, Klopp has Daniel Sturridge back training although he is not expected to be in contention for selection until the weekend.