James Milner has denied that the number of changes Jurgen Klopp made for Liverpool’s game against Fulham impacted their performance.
Milner was one of seven players who came into the lineup as Klopp made several changes after their disappointing loss to Chelsea in midweek.
Klopp may have had an eye on the second leg of their Champions League Round of 16 tie with RB Leipzig. But Liverpool lacked any real intensity as they slipped to defeat against the side in the bottom three.
It has left their hopes of finishing in the top four in tatters – with any hope of successfully defending their title already seemingly long gone.
Liverpool now face a crucial 10 remaining games to try and salvage their season with a better finish in the Premier League. But many questions will be asked after their loss to Fulham.
The number of changes Klopp made is one area of debate, but Milner denied that there was a lack of familiarity between those who did take to the pitch.
The midfielder told Sky Sports: “It’s not familiarity. Obviously we train with each other a lot and we’ve all played together a lot. It’s just obviously players who maybe haven’t played as much and getting that rhythm.
“But it’s excuses at the end of the day. We need to be better, we know that. We know we can perform a lot better but things aren’t happening for us at the moment.
“I don’t think you can level at the players there’s no effort there – the effort is always there. I don’t think you ever see anyone strolling around, that would never happen with this group of players, it’s an honest group of players.
“But when things aren’t going for you everything is a lot harder; you miss a chance and it hits you a lot harder. You need one to go in off someone’s knee or something and at the moment it’s not happening for us.”
There was also the simpler suggestion that Liverpool were just lacking a bit of luck, but once again, Milner played that down. Instead, he urged his teammates to put the work in to rectify their situation.
He added: “I don’t think it’s just that, obviously it’s a break that you need, a little bit of magic.
“Shaq [Xherdan Shaqiri] had an effort that has gone the wrong side of the post – when things are going well it goes in. One from a corner that’s bouncing around – when things are going well it goes in.
“At the moment it’s not for us and it’s down to us to dig ourselves out. The only way is working hard and it’s down to us to do that.”
Milner admits home form ‘hurts’
Liverpool were already on an unprecedented run of five defeats in a row at home heading into the Fulham game, which has now extended to six.
Vice-captain Milner admits that spell has been painful for them to deal with, but they can only focus on what is to come.
He continued: “The mindset has to be like it always is: concentrate on the next game.
“It definitely hurts. When you’re playing for a club with the history of Liverpool, the history we’ve created as a group of players, the standards we’ve set, we’re not hitting them at this moment in time and it’s not good enough.
“We know the incredible support we get all around the world and they’re still with us despite our poor performance at this moment in time. It’s disappointing and hard when you’re letting the club down and letting the fans down.
“It’s for us to keep pushing and dig ourselves out of the mess.”