LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) – Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp played down suggestions that his team are in decline, saying it is “not 100% fair” to judge the squad because they have had a number of injury problems this season.
Liverpool were expected to be Manchester City’s closest challengers for the Premier League title, but Klopp’s side are ninth in the standings after 12 games.
Liverpool have lost players including Diogo Jota, Naby Keita, Luis Diaz and Joel Matip to injury while Darwin Nunez has struggled to justify his price tag after being signed as a replacement for Sadio Mane.
Saturday’s 2-1 defeat by Leeds United, their first home league loss since March 2021, was another blow.
“We do this job in public and the judgement for this will be later on in the season, or even at the end,” Klopp told reporters on Monday when asked if his team are in decline.
“At the moment it’s not 100% fair to judge the team because we haven’t had them (players) available, missing up front top quality. We’d usually make changes.
“Even if it’s unfair, it’s fine. It’s normal to ask these questions. Arsenal and Man City will have to answer those questions later on. We are all out there to be judged, manager, players, that’s how it is.”
Klopp said there was no quick fix.
“Consistency and stability is our issue,” the German said. “There are highs and there are obviously too many lows, that is clear.”
Liverpool have qualified for the Champions League knockout stages and are due to host Napoli in their final group game on Tuesday. They are second in Group A and can secure top spot by beating the Italian side by four goals or more.
But they face a tough challenge against Napoli, who are top of Serie A and unbeaten in the league this season.
“I am not afraid or scared. It is a tough challenge but I really respect what they are doing,” Klopp said.
“Now our situation is slightly more difficult than Napoli’s. When you are on a winning streak you have to do a lot to stay on track.”
Centre back Ibrahima Konate is available to face Napoli but the game comes too soon for Matip who has a calf problem.
(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)