Graeme Souness slammed Liverpool for their faltering start to the season – and he identified four reasons behind the team’s poor form.
The Reds came close to winning an unprecedented quartet last season, eventually settling on just two in the Carabao Cup and FA Cup. And despite summer spending of around £81m – including new club record signing Darwin Nunez – their level so far this season has fallen well short of expectations.
In fact, he defeated Napoli 4-1 on Wednesday night in a result that could easily have been worse. after the game, Jurgen Klopp has spoken of his need to “reinvent” his struggling team.
This loss to Napoli is already his second of the season – and just two wins in six Premier League games puts him seventh in the table. In fact, they are already facing a difficult task in closing down Manchester City, who lead them by five points with 14 points.
Assessing where it all went wrong, Souness believes there are four factors behind his malaise.
To start, Souness claims it is just a matter of their desire and application.
“The only non-negotiable part of winning football matches is having the ball first,” he wrote in a newspaper daily Mail. “At the moment, Liverpool don’t. That’s why they are one mile away from the team we knew they were in Jurgen Klopp’s time at the club.”
Going into more detail, Souness insists that one of Liverpool’s tactics under Klopp – high pressure – does not appear to have been there. In this regard, Souness wonders if the players are experiencing fatigue.
“Liverpool does not seem to have the same energy,” he adds.
Graeme Souness cries in Mohamed Salah’s spell
Souness is also unaffected by the look of Mohamed Salah. The Liverpool star signed a new deal worth £350,000-a-week over the summer. This makes him the highest earner by a distance. But with just two goals to his name he seems far from his best.
“I certainly haven’t seen the same Salah,” Souness continues. “He’s signed the big contract he wants and I really hope we don’t see him sitting in an armchair because of that.”
Finally, Souness feels Liverpool’s midfield injuries have also been a factor. They went to the Napoli match with Harvey Elliott and Fabinho and veteran James Milner at their side.
But Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita, Thiago Alcantara, Curtis Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have all experienced periods on the sidelines this season.
And while they signed Arthur Melo on loan for one season from Juventus, he believes it is an issue that still needs to be resolved in January.
“I think there’s room in that midfield for another high intensity workaholic who can also make a great pass,” adds Graeme Souness.
“Go back to Liverpool’s best midfield three or four years ago. You had Jenny Wijnaldum. Workaholic. James Milner. Workaholic. Jordan Henderson. Workaholic…
“It is definitely my view that Liverpool need an experienced and experienced midfielder at the heart of their team. They need someone to pick the pass and take advantage of the movement of the attackers.”
Only two Liverpool players are doing well this season
Liverpool may have scored their biggest-ever Premier League win of the season – 9-0 against Bournemouth – but that result and performance seems pretty much a one-off. Time and time again, the midfield looked tired and second best. The fear factor behind their play has also now been removed.
The way they run and push through the tightness is one of Klopp’s biggest rivals. Now in its seventh season at Anfield, Dortmund also suffered a major drop in its seventh season under him. This led to his departure from the club, which prompted this future transfer to Liverpool FC.
This led to questions that the team’s cycle under Klopp’s leadership does not exceed seven years.
Of course, Klopp could use the unexpected break this weekend to fill in many of those shortcomings.
Truth be told – and a point that Graeme Souness missed – their defense is also a mess. It was for this purpose that Jimmy Carragher slaughtered three stars for playing like a kid against Napoli.
With their squad following up so far this season, there are probably only two, maybe three players escaping the criticism. Alisson Becker remains a reliable and secure pair in goal. Up front, Luis Diaz’s performance was excellent and he appears to be a talented star with the Reds.
Elliott was also generally good in midfield. Despite his tender years, he appears to be a player of true quality.
However, it’s probably Virgil van Dijk’s look that really bothers us. Often seen as the best defender in the world, he appears to be far below his best this season, making many uncharacteristic mistakes.