With the 2021-22 Premier League season kicking off in two weeks, more and more pundits have placed their bets on the top four and there seems to be a familiar pattern.
From England to Europe and the world, Liverpool have dominated everyone in recent times, playing some phenomenal football.
After 30 years of failing to lift the English Premier League trophy, the Reds ended the drought in 2019–20 thanks to Jurgen Klopp.
The German assembled one of the greatest Liverpool sides in history to break that long, unenviable record. But while Klopp and his resilient side have channelled their passion and eagerness to deliver success, in recent months Liverpool haven’t lived up to their standards.
The sorts of performances put in by the Reds have been short of what they displayed in the past few years.
There are reasons behind the form slump. The Reds have had a terrible time with injuries this season, particularly to first-team players, some of whome will be on the sidelines for the remainder of the season.
Liverpool’s season hasn’t gone as planned, and Klopp must shoulder his fair share of the blame. He’s one of the best managers in the world, but his philosophy of football and failure to adapt to others has been his side’s biggest weakness. His style of play is commendable, but it’s risky for how demanding it is on his players. It’s high pressing, fast on the counterattack and constantly puts pressure on opponents, and the required energy to execute it all takes a heavy toll on the players in the long run.
Liverpool’s problem this season haven’t really been in the attacking phase or on the defence; it’s all about fatigue.
Reds players are suffering from burnout and lassitude. The manager has had such experiences in the past and should know how to handle it, but Klopp isn’t backing down on his desire to continue with his pattern of football – unlike counterpart Josep Guardiola, who has rebranded his team to play a conservative and controlling football brand. Guardiola learnt from his bitter experience against Lyon in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
Klopp must adapt. He can start by trusting his youngsters with more minutes, which will create more competition for starting places and allow regulars some time off through rotation out of the side.
Rest is crucial for Liverpool’s healthy players to avoid the same fate as the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Mario Gotze, Marco Reus and Ilkay Gundogan, who after a couple of years playing really energetic football had a real dip in form and struggled to get back to the top of their game.