Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admits they do not deserve to be in the Champions League if they continue to play the way they did in the 1-1 draw at home to Newcastle.
The Reds’ hopes of a top-four finish were dealt a blow when midfielder Joe Willock scored an equaliser in the fifth minute of added time, benefiting from an additional 60 seconds on the clock after Callum Wilson’s goal just moments earlier had been ruled out by VAR for handball.
Mohamed Salah’s 20th Premier League goal of the campaign, becoming the first Liverpool player to achieve that feat in three separate seasons, in only the third minute had looked like giving the hosts victory despite a host of missed chances.
Critics, of which there have been many this week in the wake of the club’s involvement in the ill-fated Super League plans, may well enjoy the irony of the dent the result put in Liverpool’s aspirations of qualifying for the Champions League – a competition their owners Fenway Sports Group were seemingly more than happy to abandon just six days ago.
For Klopp, however, the concern was he did not think his side warrant a place among Europe’s elite on this evidence.
“If we play like this and don’t finish games like this off, why should we play Champions League?” he said.
“We want to deserve Champions League and we don’t want to come and be cheeky, we want to earn it and with these results you don’t earn it.
“It’s all on the table so go for it. It feels close to being unacceptable but we have to accept it anyway.”
Klopp accepted the way his side performed at both ends of the pitch – although particularly up front where they had 22 shots and nine on target – meant they did not deserve to beat Newcastle.
“Very tough day – but there is no-one else to blame but ourselves,” he added.
“We created chances. The golden rule of football is you’d better use your chances. That’s what we didn’t do and that’s why Newcastle deserved a point.
“They score a goal which was disallowed the first time – we were lucky with VAR – but we didn’t even take that present and we gave them another one and it’s 1-1.”
Newcastle boss Steve Bruce was delighted with a point but felt the joy of snatching a draw was somewhat lost by the intervention of VAR and the application of rules he feels need changing.
“There’s no denying we were sloppy with some of the decisions we made trying to play out from the back but I always thought we carried a threat going forward,” he said.
“We scored twice in the last minute which is quite remarkable. To go and get something from the game is vitally important.
“We were gutted (by Wilson’s disallowed goal). When you see the goal back you think what a ridiculous decision that is not to allow the goal.
“We are going to have to look at these crazy rules. VAR is becoming laughable and it is not VAR’s fault, it is the letter of the law. It doesn’t make sense.
“VAR was brought in for a clear and obvious mistake so to be looking at every goal whether it is a millimetre or two onside is not a great spectacle.”