Paul Merson feels the Liverpool players have many questions to answer over their recent displays and Jurgen Klopp’s position should not be under threat.
The Reds are enduring a woeful season by their recent high standards and sit ninth in the table after 12 games. Incredibly, the Anfield giants have won just four top-flight matches, with four defeats on their record already. The Merseysiders looked to have turned a corner when beating champions Manchester City 1-0.
That triumph was their best display of 2022-2023 and they followed it up with a slightly fortuitous victory over West Ham United.
The Hammers scalp saw the north-west giants move up to seventh but they were then beaten 1-0 by Nottingham Forest.
The expected reaction failed to materialise as Leeds United pulled off a spectacular 2-1 victory on Saturday.
Former Arsenal forward Merson was scathing in his assessment of the current state of affairs. And he feels the Reds squad need to take a long hard look at themselves.
“To put in a performance like Liverpool did against Manchester City and then follow it up with defeats against Nottingham Forest and Leeds is inexcusable,” he told Sky Sports.
“Liverpool took one step forward and four steps back.
“Only the players can put in a performance like they did against City and then the ones against Forest and Leeds.
“Only the players can tell you what was different on those occasions.”
Liverpool dominance a thing of the past
Liverpool have been one of the top Premier League teams for a number of years. Having finished second in the 2018-2019 campaign, they claimed the Premier League spoils the following season.
Third and second-place finishes followed while Klopp’s charges took both domestic cups last term.
However, Merson believes opposition teams are no longer in awe of the 2019 Champions League winners.
“Teams are not scared of Liverpool anymore. It’s slowly mirroring what happened with Old Trafford,” he added.
“As a player I used to dread going to Manchester United. You used to play well there and still get beat, nowadays if you play well there you win.
“If you play well at Liverpool now there’s a strong chance you will win.”
No excuses for Liverpool demise
Liverpool’s title success was their first since the 1989-1990 season – before the inception of the Premier League.
They took 30 fewer points the following campaign when attempting a title defence.
Merson feels that downturn was inevitable but sees no reason why they are so below par this time around.
“Liverpool are losing their fear factor, and this season is already worse than the season they defended the title,” he continued. “In 2020/21 they had just won the league for the first time in how many years. I could understand that season.
“But it’s completely different now, Liverpool know that. They have that experience under their belts and there is no excuse for their performances this season.”
Klopp to write his own Liverpool script
Klopp has turned Liverpool around since arriving in October 2015. From a club just challenging for the top four they have been, along with City, the dominant force in English football in recent times.
However, this season’s poor results has seen the German’s position come under scrutiny. But Merson believes he has done enough to keep his job for as long as he wants.
“Will Klopp be thinking he’s taken Liverpool as far as he can? I’m not sure, but one thing I am certain of is that it will ultimately be his decision,” he said.
“Liverpool have to keep him but whenever the time comes to make a decision, it will be his.
“Klopp is an elite manager, he’s not in the job to finish fourth in the league, for those kind of managers that is not success.”
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