Shaun Goater believes the absence of spectators at the start of next season will be a handicap for new Premier League champions Liverpool, as he suggested the Anfield crowd are a 12th man for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Liverpool struggled to hit their heights of brilliance in behind-closed-doors matches since football’s restart last month.
And Goater has told TEAMtalk that the absence of their vocal support could work against them. As they look to get their defence of the title off to a flier in September.
Spectators are not expected to return to Premier League grounds until October at the earliest. And capacity crowds may not be permitted throughout next season due to COVID-19 guidelines.
That has inspired Goater to suggest Liverpool will lose one of their big assets.
“The Liverpool fans are an extra man for them and they will miss that backing when football return in a few weeks time,” Goater told us at a BT Sport event.
“We have seen that they have struggled to find top gear since football came back. And the absence of fans may be linked to that, especially at Anfield.
“I have seen some City vs Liverpool games at Wembley and Anfield in the last couple of years and the fans can have a big impact on Klopp’s players.
“We saw it in the Community Shield game at Wembley last year when their fans got involved and suddenly Liverpool went up a few levels and it is a factor in why their players raise themselves at the right moments.
Anfield a place like no other
“From Liverpool’s point of view, not having fans for home games will be a big blow to them. There is nothing like a European night at Anfield when that crowd are roaring. As players, you can’t help but be galvanised by it and it is part of their history.
“They will have played a few matches at home by the time some fans are hopefully allowed back into stadiums. By then, they might have already have dropped a few points without that backing behind them.
“Liverpool have been so phenomenal this season that they almost haven’t needed their fans to lift them. But it will be a whole new ball game next season as everyone starts from zero and we wait to see how they deal with being champions.”
BT Sport will screen Newcastle vs Liverpool at 4pm on Sunday.