Gary Neville says that a “perfect storm” featuring a host of injuries and a noticeable drop-off in intensity has swept Liverpool’s title defence off course.
Having sat top of the Premier League on Christmas Day, the Reds have only won two of their last nine games.
As such, they have slipped to fourth with Manchester City now looking the firm favourites to reclaim their crown. Indeed, City’s 4-1 win over Liverpool put them 10 points clear of the champions with a game in hand.
Jurgen Klopp has faced significant adversity this season; all three senior centre-backs are long-term injury absentees while the lack of fans has affected their intensity at Anfield.
According to Neville, Mohamed Salah and September signing Thiago Alcantara have also played a role in their downturn.
“This is a place where they’ve been invincible for so long and you’ve just never seen Liverpool anything other than positive here,” the pundit told his Sky Sports podcast.
“They just are really tentative. They’re playing extra passes, they’re not being as direct in their attacking.
“That will point towards Thiago naturally. I don’t think it’s just him, it’s just the fact that all across the team they’re being more safe.
“Liverpool’s team over the past three years have been breathtaking but they played with risk all the time. Salah. How many times does he give it away in the opposing half of the pitch where he tries to beat people?
“It’s frustrating. You see the rest of his team-mates frustrated. [Sadio] Mane as well, [Roberto] Firmino. The direct passes into them are not there. The risk is in their game isn’t there. The running in their game isn’t there. And things aren’t falling for them.”
Neville added that a number of other factors, including the “strange” nature of the season, have created a “perfect storm” at Liverpool.
However, he stressed that Klopp should not panic.
Neville warns Liverpool to stay calm
“They’ve had injuries. They’ve had a few years going for it at full pelt, the strange season that we’ve had, a number of things can actually just happen at once and it just feels like the perfect storm in terms of what’s happening at Liverpool,” he said.
“I don’t see it being a massive concern. There will be concern, you can go down the route of they’re one-season wonders, they were never that great.
“That’s not the right time to say these things. This Liverpool team have been great for three years, they need an opportunity to reset in this next few months, come back next season and go again.”
Liverpool return to action on Saturday when they face Leicester away from home.