Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says he “could not care less” if critics think that his using the club’s injury record as a reason for their poor form is an excuse.
The Reds came into the season off the back of a 99-point haul which led them to their first Premier League title.
As such, they began the campaign in strong fashion with three wins from three games.
But while they remained around the top until early December, a crippling injury record caught up with the side and played its part in their slide down the table to sixth.
All three centre-halves have long-term injuries, while the midfielders standing in as back-up have also been sidelined.
“The problems that we had, it was always clear that they would become influential if we could not sort it by the players coming back. That is what happened,” Klopp told Sky Sports.
“Most of the problems are as a result of the injury situation. This year we have faced completely new problems. I have never in my life – and I have been doing the job for 20 years – had to change the last line-up every week.
“People might say that is an excuse. I could not care less, to be honest. We do not use it as an excuse but if you ask me the question then it is the explanation for why things changed.”
The manager added: “I am not angry about it or whatever, I am 53 years old.
“I have had different moments in my life. Wonderful moments, lesser moments. It is just a football problem.
“You cannot change it overnight and say that from now on we are going to smash the whole world again but we will get there again if we stay calm in mind and we use this time to learn.”
Klopp points to tactical truth
Midfielders Jordan Henderson and Fabinho have formed the bedrock of the midfield which led Liverpool to the Champions League in 2019 and the Premier League last term.
However, moving the pair back into defence causes problems for the rest of the team, as Klopp explained.
Indeed, Henderson and Fabinho have played their part in the Reds’ tally of 18 different defensive partnerships to date.
The manager added on his defence: “You work on it but you do not change it too much because defending is something where stability is really important. And we have had to change our defence way too often to have any kind of stability, that is the truth.
“We can still defend in a game but the way that we have to adapt is changing the whole balance of the team. That sounds really football-specific but someone who is in it and has done the job would tell you that it is true. That has been a massive challenge.
“Particularly when you are constantly facing top-class teams.
“It is not just that you are having to adapt to something, it is that the other teams do not have to adapt and can just play on a good day their best football and on another day their second-best football.”
Liverpool return to action on Thursday when Chelsea are the visitors to Anfield.
Meanwhile, Klopp delivered a heartfelt message to Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson, who lost his father last week.