The Reds boss admits that his Premier League title holders face a “big challenge” to secure a Champions League qualification spot this season
Jurgen Klopp admits that securing a top-four finish is going to be a “big challenge” for Liverpool this season.
The Premier League title holders have endured an injury-ravaged 2020-21 campaign, with inability to name a settled starting XI leading to uncharacteristic, but not all that surprising, inconsistency.
The Merseyside heavyweights sit sixth in the table at present, five points adrift of the Champions League qualification spots and with six defeats suffered through their last nine top-flight outings.
Quizzed on the Reds’ top-four chances, Klopp told reporters ahead of trip to Sheffield United on Sunday: “Big challenge, of course. You only have to look at the points; it’s not too far off but already it’s a distance.
“We don’t have to talk too much about that, the only thing we have to do is try to win as many games as possible and that’s what we’ll do.”
The Reds have come unstuck against Southampton, Burnley, Brighton, Manchester City, Leicester and Everton since the turn of the year.
A run of four successive setbacks on home soil has been suffered for the first time in 98 years, while you have to turn the clock back to 2002 to find the last time they lost four in a row in the league.
Liverpool do still have 13 games to take in this season, while remaining in contention for European glory after securing a first-leg advantage over RB Leipzig in the last-16 of the Champions League, but they remain without key men and with a top-four battle intensifying around them.
Former Reds midfielder Jamie Redknapp has told Sky Sports of the club’s efforts to secure a lofty finish: “They might not finish top four. It wouldn't be a surprise - it's actually more of a surprise if they did finish top four in the form they're in.
“But they'll have to look at this as an exercise. It's not gone well for them but how can they do in the Champions League? Can they win the Champions League and upset the odds and do something incredibly special on that front?
“This isn't a short fix. Liverpool's results up until the end of the season are going to be up and down.
“They're going to have some good results because they've got [Mohamed] Salah, [Roberto] Firmino and [Sadio] Mane to do incredible things but they're also going to have some really poor results, that is a fact. Because you can't change what's in front of you right now.
“Jurgen Klopp can't get a special formula or recipe to go, 'I'm going to change this, I'm going to be so bright and so clever and change it to a back three', it isn't going to change a thing.
“Klopp has got the hardest job at the moment because he hasn't got a partnership, none of them have played together, you've lost your captain for three months… he's got a really tough job.
“It will come, of course it will come, but just right now everything Liverpool do feels difficult. When you're in a team struggling for form, even the basics, simple passes, crosses, normally they'd find a man but they're not quite happening for them now. They have to get their confidence back.”