Klopp agony as Reds seek to end slump

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp showing his frustration during his team's 0-2 loss to Hull on Saturday. The Reds are now fifth in the Premier League table and trail leaders Chelsea by 13 points.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp showing his frustration during his team's 0-2 loss to Hull on Saturday. The Reds are now fifth in the Premier League table and trail leaders Chelsea by 13 points.PHOTO: REUTERS

LIVERPOOL • Jurgen Klopp cannot have seen this rut coming and his mood after Liverpool's latest weary performance was bleak. There was no anger, only tired exasperation.

He had already discharged his rage at half-time as his side toiled at Hull City and, although Liverpool improved after that impassioned team talk, they could not halt their dreadful start to 2017.

Afterwards, the German suggested that it was time for some home truths. From the team's mentality to Simon Mignolet's latest error, he was blunt - facing mistakes head-on would be a priority before Saturday's game at home to Tottenham.

"Again that's another thing where we have to show a reaction," said Klopp when asked about Mignolet's confidence.

"That's causing problems. For sure he was not alone around the goal but of course he nearly had it in his hands. We cannot ignore this is true and we will not. We don't lie to ourselves.

"I saw in the Hull set piece that our formation was not right, after one second of the set piece. It's all about concentration. It's all about being really in the game and finding the answer after a defeat that really hurts, not just myself but the players too. Putting ourselves under pressure is a hobby of ours and now we have to show a reaction."

Liverpool have won one match in 10 this calendar year, across all competitions. That was a narrow victory over fourth-tier Plymouth in an FA Cup replay and the big games come quickly over the next month and a half. Arsenal, Manchester City and Everton loom large on the fixture list after Tottenham.

Yet Liverpool have performed admirably against their direct rivals at the top end of the Premier League this season. It is the displays against lower-ranked opponents that have caused concern and the one at Hull was familiarly frustrating.

Klopp insisted there was a way back from the slump and that his self-belief had not wavered.

"You cannot believe how many questions I ask myself, even when we win 5-0 or 6-0," he said. "When I get up tomorrow I will only be solution-orientated. There are solutions, 100 per cent. Now we have to change it. "

Liverpool's quiet January has put the spotlight on their squad but Klopp was reluctant to point to excuses for his team's malaise.

Asked whether new signings would have prevented this run, he said: "First of all I think what is very important is to never blame anybody else for your own mistakes. We don't look for excuses. It's not that we are trying to blame somebody. We are responsible, the squad, myself especially. We have to work on a solution and we will."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 07, 2017, with the headline 'Klopp agony as Reds seek to end slump'. Print Edition | Subscribe