Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara believes having come so close to an unprecedented quadruple last season has had an undue effect on the squad.
Manager Jurgen Klopp accepted earlier this month the physical demands of a 63-game season in which his side played every match available to them and won a League-FA Cup double and narrowly missed out on Premier League and Champions League titles had caught up with them.
But being so close to an historical achievement – they were 12 minutes away from a second domestic title in three years and only lost 1-0 to Real Madrid in Paris – appears to also have had a mental impact.
“It is not just about physical stuff, it is something psychological because we were so close to winning everything and we just touched it but sadly it went away,” said Thiago after a disappointing goalless draw at home to Chelsea.
“We are in position for the Champions League (with a last-16 tie against Madrid) and FA Cup.
“We are not in the position we wanted in the Premier League but still we are there and that’s good.
“Last season we had one of the greatest seasons I’ve ever had in my life. This season is not one of the best but it doesn’t matter.
“It is a challenge and I think we have great quality and great guys to sort it out and I am sure we will do that.”
Brentford’s point at Leeds on Sunday dropped Liverpool back down to ninth and, while the top four remains some distance away, the fact Klopp’s side have only reached the halfway point of the season offers hope there is still time to turn things around.
“I think in the bad moments we have to be together as a team,” added Thiago.
“We are in the reality to go game by game and get points to help us to be as high as possible.
“Our aim is the next game. Not to be in the top four or the Europa League, just the next game.
“We are looking forward to the next game (Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round tie) against Brighton and that’s all.”