LIVERPOOL, England (AP) – Even when his players were basking in the afterglow ofdrought, Jürgen Klopp was quick to temper the giddiness. “When you think you have manager told them last July, “you are already on the way down.”
It has turned out to be a long way down this season.
When Liverpool revealed it simultaneously being English, European, and world champions, those few weeksseemed a distant memory. World domination can be so fleeting. No wonder Klopp tempered any talk of building a dynasty after lifting the trophy for the first time last July. As pandemic restrictions persist, it will undoubtedly be surrendered to before there is a chance to parade it in front of fans.
The trophy cabinet will be empty again by the end of this. ensured that by ending the pursuit of a seventh European Cup on Wednesday. A rare positive in this of shortcomings by an injury-ravaged defense was the inexperienced Nathaniel Philipps helping to prevent the Karim Benzema-led attack from scoring at Anfield. But it was Liverpool’s blunted attack that impeded the task of overturning the 3-1 first-leg loss to reach the .
Mohamed Salah will rue not adding to his 28 goals this, denied by goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and his inability to find the target in the 0-0 second leg. How expected, perhaps, of Roberto Firmino to – as happened a minute into the second half – when you’re a forward with just one goal in 20 games.
How much longer will Salah want to be part of a squad rebuilding, especially when there’s little sign of significant investment to give the Egyptian support upfront or protection at the back?
The net outlay of around 40 million pounds ($55 million) proved inadequate to build on the title win compared to pre-season strengthening by the teams that have ended up as England’s remaining.
While Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth funded the foundations for City’s quadruple chase and Chelsea witnessed another spending splurge by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, Liverpool’sfrom the Boston Red Sox took a more restrained approach during the pandemic.
Diogo Jota and Thiago Alcantara, two of the main summer signings, were only deemed worthy by Klopp of playing the last half-hour against Madrid on Wednesday.
Look now at the, and Liverpool is sixth in standing. It won by 18 points last season as .
The story of the collapse can overlook the fact Liverpool was in first place in the second half of December. The City has made up being eightof a side whose injury-depleted resources became too stretched to cope with the demands of a season without breathing space due to the pandemic-compressed schedule.
The warning signs were there when Liverpool was humiliated 7-2 byin the fourth match of the title defense. Then again, in the 19th round, Burnley won 1-0 at Anfield. Liverpool’s 68-game unbeaten home ended with another ten days remaining in the transfer window. Still, only cheaper attempts at a quick fix were made to by center backs Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez being long-term injury
absences. Eight of their last 15 league matches were losses, but a trio of successive victories have put Liverpool back in sight of the top four, with a. More than $100 million is riding on Liverpool doing so. But beyond the necessity of collecting the UEFA windfall by returning to the Champions League is the potential loss of prestige and not wanting a season of toils in the Europa League.
The challenge for Klopp and the team he labeled “mentality monsters” is rediscovering that spirit.
“I think we are not in a bad moment,” Klopp said. “We have to keep fighting. We want to be in thenext year, but at the moment, we still have to pick up more points than many other teams.”
A team so dominant a year ago is now playing catchup. Klopp has to find a way of ensuring his words after the Premierglory of 2020 don’t prove prescient.
“It’s not the onlyI want to talk to the boys about when I meet them in 20 years,” Klopp said.
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