BOURNEMOUTH • Jurgen Klopp has been forced to defend Liverpool's character and title credentials, after their incredible meltdown in a stunning 4-3 Premier League defeat by Bournemouth.
The Reds' shock loss on Sunday came at a time when they looked set to move to within a point of leaders Chelsea and go into the Christmas period as one of the favourites to finish as top-flight champions for the first time since 1990.
However, the nervous manner of the team's late collapse, against a Bournemouth side who had never won against Liverpool in their history, has opened up a debate over whether the German manager's squad is ready for such pressure.
This weekend sees third-placed Liverpool face lowly West Ham at Anfield, but the Christmas fixture list also throws up far tougher games against Merseyside rivals Everton and title rivals Manchester City.
Klopp, however, sees no reason for panic, despite his team conceding three goals in the last 14 minutes to turn a 3-1 lead into a 3-4 loss. "We have no attitude or character problem," he said.
"No one is born a winner. Not in the first two or three months. You have to learn it.
"It doesn't feel too good right now but sometimes we need it. So I'm not angry. These things happen and you cannot be champions in December. We lost three points but everything else is OK."
Klopp did admit he was not happy with certain aspects of Liverpool's performance, however - accusing his team of "opening the door for Bournemouth" in the latter stages of a match in which the visitors scored excellent goals through Sadio Mane, Divock Origi and Emre Can.
But he refused to place any blame on goalkeeper Loris Karius, who spilt Steve Cook's stoppage-time shot to allow Nathan Ake the winner - and was then heavily criticised by television pundit and former Liverpool player Jamie Carragher for his mistake.
"No, I have no concern," Klopp insisted. "No problem. If you make mistakes, you get criticised. That's what happens in life."
Carragher, however, thought otherwise. The Reds legend said: "This goalkeeper (Karius) is yet to convince me that he's of the required standard.
"The seven or eight games he has played, he hasn't done anything yet in those games to impress me."
In contrast, Bournemouth players are celebrating a famous victory, having never previously beaten Liverpool in nine fixtures going all the way back to 1927.
"Our group knows not to give up," Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe said.
"In the second half we looked like scoring every time we attacked. For this club and everyone involved it's a very special day."
Goals from Callum Wilson, Ryan Fraser, Cook and Ake took Bournemouth up to 10th place in the league, with matches against struggling Burnley and Leicester next.