Liverpool have been told their top stars need to take a long look at themselves by Graeme Souness, with his fellow pundit Simon Jordan highlighting three players whose standards have dropped off this season.
A 10-point tally from their opening seven games represents Liverpool’s worst start to a season since 2014. Next up for the 2021 runners-up is a clash against Rangers in the Champions League. After that, Arsenal and then Manchester City lie in wait in the league. Were they to lose the latter two, Jurgen Klopp’s side could feasibly find themselves in the bottom half of the Premier League.
Their latest result was a frustrating 3-3 draw at home to Brighton. And after the game a despondant Klopp suggested his players were not listening to him.
Souness told talkSPORT: “You’d start by saying they have a lot of fabulous players there, but a lot of them are not at it. You can ask yourself why is that happening as he’ll be using the same terminology when he speaks to them. The training will be the same, they’ll be staying in the same hotels and they’ll be repeating all the things that have brought them success.
“But they appear to be lacking the energy to play the brand of football they want to play. They want to be in your face, have those midfield bullies that are constantly on the front foot. That is missing is something they need to address.
“I go back to that Napoli game, the first game of the Champions League, and they were just so far off it. And they haven’t really got any better since then.”
Jordan asks questions of Mohamed Salah and Liverpool teammates
Souness continued: “Confidence comes from within. It comes from winning games. If you’re a big player, you don’t need to be told when you playing well or not.
“These are players who are lucky to be at such a big club, but who are way short right now. They need to take a look at themselves. It’s still in there somewhere and they are still a very good team. And you don’t become a bad team overnight.
“But I will accept they are a country-mile being off where they’ve been over the last five or six years.”
Simon Jordan also reckons questions need to be asked of Liverpool and how they rebuild their confidence. The former Crystal Palace chairman also pinpointed one Reds star who has badly let his standards slip.
“Questions need to be asked about the players made stalwarts of this team, like Virgil van Dijk, who doesn’t look the same player.”
Jordan added: “I agree with what Klopp said the other day in defence of Trent Alexander-Arnold. He’s a good defender who just sometimes isn’t very good at defending.”
Asked if the club are in a crisis by host Jim White, Jordan continued: “What does a crisis look like? This is a blip that they have to overcome. I’ve heard Jermaine Jenas and Troy Deeney (fellow pundits) have a go at Mohamed Salah. They’re saying his application on the pitch is not very good. I’d argue it was never that good before, he just scored a lot of goals.
“But they’re looking at how he pressed the back four, how he tracked back or failed to do so for Brighton’s third goal. But I would argue that Liverpool are a small bit away.”
Crucial period lies ahead for Liverpool
Both Jordan and Souness are right; it is too soon to start labelling this season a write-off for Liverpool.
However, failure to pick up positive results in their next three games will certainly see more questions raised. Plenty will expect the Reds to have too much for Rangers in the Champions League. However, Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side have surprised plenty in Europe over the past two seasons.
Furthermore, Rangers will have two former Liverpool stars in their camp in Ben Davies and Ryan Kent. The two players will be hungry to prove a point if selected.
As such, the Reds will need to be on top of thieir game to ensure they pick up the win.
Their next two Premier League meetings will also ascertain where they are at. While they have only won two of seven so far, they have only lost one. In fact, Saturday’s draw with Brighton was their fourth already this season.
Results in these games will go a long way to either arresting their apparent slide or going a long way to contributing towards it.
As such, Souness is right – their big players will need to dust themselves off and start playing like the Liverpool of old.