While Jurgen Klopp talks of the 12 minutes that cost Liverpool in their 3-0 defeat to Wolves at Molineux, Paul Merson goes through the problems throughout the team that are undermining the Anfield club: 'At the end, it was cringeworthy'
Sunday 5 February 2023 19:59, UK
Jurgen Klopp rued Liverpool's 'horrible start' in their 3-0 defeat to Wolves and admits he is concerned about his team's ongoing struggles.
Liverpool lost a third consecutive Premier League away game for the first time in a decade as Wolves lifted themselves out of the relegation zone with a three-goal win. Joel Matip's own goal followed by a Craig Dawson strike put them two down inside 12 minutes.
There was no way back despite an improved second-half display in which Liverpool pushed for a route back into the game and things got worse when Ruben Neves effectively ended the comeback hopes with a third on the counter-attack.
With Liverpool in 10th and closer to the relegation zone than the Champions League places, Klopp and his players find themselves under serious scrutiny.
"The start of the game was horrible, it is not allowed to happen," said Klopp.
"There is the first 12 minutes, then it is OK for an away performance, where we created, we were there. We started extremely well in the second half, the first 20 to 25 minutes, it is a super away game without scoring. Then they score the third goal from a counter-attack.
"We caused our own misery in that first 12 minutes. That cannot happen. It did. But it cannot. It is really tough to swallow. You can criticise, you can judge and you are probably right. I have nothing to say because these 12 minutes are not allowed.
"It is really difficult to summarise. The team is not full of confidence, but do you need a lot of confidence for that? To put your body between the ball and opponent? Stop the cross?
"How can I not be concerned? I cannot sit here and say it is ok because it is not. I got asked if it is because of last season, 63 games. It is clear that has influenced the start of the season but how long can we suffer that? It is February by my watch.
"It might have been a problem but today, the first 12 minutes, it is not allowed and this is outcome. This is not a 3-0 how a 3-0 looks with Wolves clearly better side. Maybe for 12 minutes and the end when the ball was their friend again."
Klopp was clear that he has not lost belief in himself as a coach - or the players who have brought him such success at Liverpool but are now falling short of their best form.
"I don't think they are at their best at the moment but I still know how good they are and how good they can be. But we cannot help ourselves in this moment.
"Seven or eight players weren't involved in the first goal, seven or eight players weren't involved in the second goal, but all are affected by it. The start is horrible. Then it is normal, it is great. OK, no finishing. But at the moment it is always if if if and I can't hear it anymore."
"They got off to a bad start," Paul Merson told Sky Sports.
"They did push. I watched them at Brighton and they got well beat. I was watching them here and I said if they score a goal, they will go on and get a result. They gave a lot more than they did at Brighton.
"But then on the counter-attack, Wolves scored a good goal with Neves, great play by Neves and Traore. It was the first time I've seen Klopp just sitting there like, I don't like the word lost. He's not lost. But I don't think he knows what else to do now.
"You look at the team and it's a million miles off where they were last year. I think he'll wait until the Champions League after the Real Madrid game. If he gets a couple of players fit, if he gets a Van Dijk fit then all of a sudden it's a different game if they go and beat Real Madrid over two legs.
"Watching this, I don't see them doing that but with Van Dijk back… Matip and Gomez don't look the same players without Van Dijk next to them. The two full-backs have lost their way. The midfield is getting overrun.
"And up front, Nunez touches the ball more times than anyone but can't hit the target and score a goal. Salah looks a million miles off. You're talking about players who were consistently eight and nine last season but they're consistently five and six now.
"Same as the other games,” said Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson afterwards. “We have no consistency at all through the 90 minutes. First 15 minutes we started the game not in a good way and we got punished for that.”
"When you dip that much I don't see how you get results in this league. It's ruthless. Have they lost the fear factor? One hundred per cent. Teams are having a go, opening it up.
"At the end it was cringeworthy. I know the game's over, it's 3-0. But Wolves were keeping the ball for 50 or 60 passes. All the crowd going, 'Wahey!' And not one Liverpool player got near them.
"Usually you'd think someone would let them know, don't take the mickey out of us. I was shocked. Fifty to 60 passes? That can't be happening with Liverpool Football Club."