It’s been some fall alright. Explaining it is easy, trying to fix it is an altogether different matter. That’s the scenario facing Jurgen Klopp and his Liverpool players after a sixth consecutive home defeat against Fulham.
An outcome that’s hard to fathom when you consider that the Reds, up until the defeat to Burnley on 21 January, were closing in on four years unbeaten on their home patch. 
Unbeaten runs do come to an end, and in this peculiar season with fans absent, home comforts have counted for less. But to lose six Anfield games on the spin is unthinkable for a club like Liverpool. That’s the reality, however. 
Against Fulham and similar to previous home games, Klopp’s side enjoyed plenty of possession but lacked a real cutting edge, with Dioga Jota’s stinging volley that forced Alphonse Areola into a brilliant save, the best they could offer in in trying to rescue a point. There were other half-hearted efforts in trying to breach the Fulham rearguard; an improvement from just the one shot on target in last week’s defeat to Chelsea.
Former player Jamie Carragher didn’t hold back when explaining Liverpool’s current woes on Sky Sports.
Carragher: “These defeats, at home, against the level of opposition, you need to find something from somewhere”
“So often at these stages last season, Liverpool scored late goals, even the year before when they were chasing down Man City. That man [Jurgen Klopp] rightly called his side the ‘mentality monsters’ and they deserved that tag. But right now, they are like ‘mentality midgets’.
“Every time there is a bit of adversity, you go behind in a game, his team is just not dealing well with adversity at any stage in this last three or four months.
“It’s not acceptable from Liverpool, that sort of performance, and I’ll tell you what, I played in some really poor Liverpool teams.
“These defeats, at home, against the level of opposition, you need to find something from somewhere. It looks like top four positions now are a long way off.”
Dejection on the face of Liverpool players after the loss to Fulham
It’s all a far cry from the rock ‘n’ roll’ football that is Jurgen Klopp’s trademark – the catalyst that saw Liverpool crowned Kings of Europe in 2019, before a 30-year was ended with a league title last term.
And while that symphony may now be short of an audience, it’s still hard to countenance just how out of tune things have become. Yes, there are mitigating circumstances, such as long-term injuries to Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez that have torn the heart out of their defence.
Against Fulham, the inexperienced pairing of Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams were the 16th different centre-back combination to have started in 28 league matches. Injuries have also seen Fabinho, Diogo Jota, Thiago Alcântara miss chunks of the season, while captain Jordon Henderson is currently sidelined with groin problems.
Away from the football pitch, Klopp could not travel to Germany to mourn his mother’s passing, while Alisson Becker recently returned home to Brazil for the funeral of his father who died tragically in a drowning accident.
Yes, the club have had a lot to contend with this season, with the manager, after the Fulham game, pointing to the fact that “we never had a momentum”, while adding that “it would be a masterpiece to find out how we change that overnight”.
Klopp is setting himself a hard task then. Can he reinvigorate a Liverpool side that still boasts much quality in its ranks? The return of Van Dijk, Matip and Gomez will add solidity to what is now a creaky defence. Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold are still capable providers on either wing, while the front three of Salah, Mane and Firmino are still held in high regard, despite their inconsistencies this term.
Diogo Jota was a smart purchase, perhaps a more astute move than the capture of Thiago, who some feel slows down the play when he’s on the ball. It’s in the midfield where Liverpool need even more reinforcements. 
Klopp addressing the Dortmund players before the 2013 Champions League final
When Klopp was manager of Borussia Dortmund he guided the club to back-to-back Bundesliga titles and an appearance in the 2013 Champions League final. Much of that success was down to Klopp adding to the squad after each season, a point outlined by Ben McFadyean, the president of the Borussia Dortmund fan club in London, when speaking on the Blood Red podcast in 2020.
“Year on year, Klopp would update the team. In 2012/13, he basically sold 11 players in one summer and then the team went on to the Champions League final,” he said.
“It was really quite astonishing the way that he would refresh the team every year.
“In 2011/12, the club not only won the title, but also won the double and in the most astonishing fashion, beat Bayern 5-2 in the DFB Pokal final, where Lewandowski got three goals.
“That was, for me, the greatest day in Dortmund’s history. That season the only arrivals were Ilkay Gundogan, who is obviously well-known, who came in for £4million, and Ivan Perisic, who is now at Bayern.
“It wasn’t the buying the title, it was just sheer talent, flair and audacity to put together a team where everything clicked.” 
Yet, in Klopp’s final season at Dortmund in 2014-15, things did not click. Okay, Robert Lewandowski was sold to Bayern, but the fall-off was stark. By Christmas, Dortmund were bottom of the league. They did recover somewhat, before finally finishing seventh, some 33 points behind Bayern. 
It may be too soon to draw similarities, with the pandemic having an impact of the footballing world in 2020-21, and Liverpool more financially stable now than Dortmund were in 2014-15.
Klopp’s quest, however, to put the spark back into the Anfield outfit will be closely watched. A test of sorts if the club do not have European football next season, even though the German feels Liverpool “will not be without Champions League football for too long”. That said it’s hard to see the six-time winners returning to Istanbul for this year’s final.
Klopp’s contract at Liverpool runs to 2024, enough time for him to create more rock ‘n’ roll if he gets his symphony back in tune. Whether he can do it is the question. 
A post-Covid world should see clubs back spending money again – a more competitive transfer awaits for Liverpool to operate in. Finding the right player and paying what is required, as was the case with Van Dijk, will be key if Klopp is to create more magical nights when the crowds return, at Anfield and beyond. 
On Wednesday, Liverpool head to Budapest to take on RB Leipzig in the second leg of their Round of 16 Champions League tie. They hold a 2-0 lead. It could be a nervous watch if the Germans score early – or else the starting point for Klopp’s Liverpool to reassert some level of authority.

You may also like