Carragher slams Liverpool stat ‘more worrying’ than poor results, with duo ‘symptomatic of the problem’

Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Harvey Elliott of Liverpool, September 2022

Jamie Carragher says Liverpool need an injection of fresh energy amid their current slump – with some players just not up to standard anymore.

The Reds were chasing an historic quadruple only eight games ago, but the situation has now turned sour. Two defeats, three draws and two contrasting methods of victory have raised questions about Liverpool’s current direction.

Such a run has also shed light on the problems facing Jurgen Klopp’s team. Their midfield has come in for fierce criticism, as has the noticeable drop in intensity.

And the 4-1 Champions League defeat to Napoli exposed all those problems in what Klopp has said was a 90-minute spell of “horrors” from his team.

Writing in his latest column, ex-Liverpool centre-back Carragher claimed a rebuild is approaching for Klopp “sooner than anticipated”.

He added that the “basic principles” Klopp instilled upon arriving on Merseyside in 2015 – of Liverpool becoming “a horrible team to play against” – have been “sorely missing” in recent weeks.

And he claimed James Milner and Roberto Firmino still enjoying starting roles is “symptomatic” of the issues at Anfield.

Carragher questions Liverpool duo’s roles

“Every Liverpool opponent has outrun them in their seven games so far. That is more worrying than the results,” Carragher wrote in his Telegraph column.

“When Klopp and his think tank convene at the AXA training centre, the injection of energy must be top of the agenda. That will prompt difficult decisions, analysing the performances of players who have given Klopp sterling service but are no longer capable of consistently executing his vision.

“Failing to reinforce midfield during the summer is the root of the problem. The club felt Aurelien Tchouameni (who opted for Real Madrid) and Jude Bellingham fit the bill.

“Most supporters – myself included – feel Liverpool’s track record with recruitment means they deserve trust so if they have to wait for Bellingham – as they did with Van Dijk in 2017 – so be it. Unfortunately, it looks like a mistake now because of the number of midfield injuries.

“When I see James Milner and Roberto Firmino starting big games for Liverpool in the Premier League or Europe, it is symptomatic of the problem.”

Carragher conceded that is is “unfair” for Milner to attract such criticism amid the injury woes in Liverpool’s midfield automatically handing him starting roles.

For Firmino, the pundit insisted that it “cannot be right” for a Brazilian who has “been in decline for two years” to be starting – “even if has performed well” at times this campaign.

Klopp and team too good to continue slump

Despite his criticism, Carragher backed Liverpool to get back to his best.

He insisted that he will “not get on board” with claims that Trent Alexander-Arnold and Virgil van Dijk are “not trying hard enough”.

Carragher added that players like Mohamed Salah and others are “too good not to get back to where they were”.

“Class is permanent,” Carragher concluded. “The same is true of the manager. Some say Liverpool are paying the price for the last five years. If so, it is a price every fan would willingly pay again.

“Should the next Anfield rebuild take as long as the first, Klopp will get all the support and time he needs. If this is the beginning of the end of an era at Liverpool, everything changes except the manager.”

Reds need a reset

There is no doubt Liverpool have what it takes to get back to their best. It is highly likely their form will improve.

But, there is the worry of a potential hangover from last season. Getting to within two results of a quadruple has never been done before and it would be naturally hard to find ways to improve upon that.

But by breaking it down, Liverpool just need to get back to basics. Improving their intensity levels will be a major step, as will an easing of their injury crisis.

Thiago Alcantara’s return to action against Napoli was a sign of a step forward. He put in a solid shift in Naples and can help lead a Reds recovery.

Bringing Joel Matip back into the centre-back fold will also be a welcome move after Joe Gomez’s performance against Napoli.

Up front, there is still the tactical issue of Mohamed Salah and his impact on the team. He has played wider than normal this season. Questions have subsequently arisen over whether he needs to get back to basics too.