Graeme Souness fears Liverpool are “not up to the challenge” of being a “special” team after suffering defeat to Burnley on Thursday to extend their winless streak to five games in the Premier League.
Ashley Barnes’ penalty leaves the champions six points off the pace set by rivals Manchester United, with Jurgen Klopp’s side now on a run of four successive games without scoring a goal.
It has led to concerns over both their title defence and whether they will be caught in a battle for a top four finish, with Souness concerned some of the players look “shot”.
“This has been coming,” he told Sky Sports. “Liverpool have been a shadow of the team we’ve seen for the best part of three years. There wasn’t any sparkle tonight, they were flat when they got the ball into the final third and when the time came to deliver, delivery was poor time and time again. They lacked quality all the way through.
“Jurgen has some hard thinking to do. Some of those players look like they are shot. There is no sparkle about them. This will be a real test for these players. Jurgen will now find out what he has in the dressing room.
While Souness has also underlined the “expectation on their shadows” with the difficulty in following up their previous two seasons, which saw the Reds claim the Champions League and Premier League titles.
“The expectation levels are there and on their shoulders. It was at the start of the season and they have not dealt with it very well,” he added.
"It's hard enough to win it. But to retain it and stay there, year in and year out, that's what makes you a special team. And right now this Liverpool team are not up for that challenge.”