If you’re keeping track at home, that’s now Relegation Battlers 3 Liverpool 0 in 2017 (no one’s counting a draw to Sunderland as anything other than a loss. Seriously, no one) however this 2-0 loss to Hull City might be the worst of the lot. The script was all too familiar: counterattacking concessions, set piece panic, possession without incision and, for the second time in three league matches, ultimately ended with the Reds giving a basement dweller a friendly, helping hand out of the drop zone.
It has easily been Klopp’s worst run of form in his time at the club, a streak fans had hoped had ended after a display worthy of three points against Chelsea finally ended a morbid January. But despite the German manager’s insistence that his Liverpool could in fact beat smaller, defensive teams, this humiliating capitulation makes it now four league losses on the season, all to teams, save for 12th-place Burnley, who are solid candidates to be playing in the Championship next season.
“Not good enough, especially in the first half,” Klopp admitted in a post-match interview. “I was kind of angry about the first half. There was no sign like this during the week, there was no sign during the Chelsea game that this should happen.”
“We were clearly not clinical in the decisive moments; losing passes, very simple. The first goal was a present from us, the second goal was a present too,” he continued in reference to the goals from Alfred N'Diaye and Oumar Niasse, both first-time scorers in the Premier League.
“In the second half everybody saw it, we had a lot of chances. [But] maybe because we [put pressure on] ourselves, we were then not clear enough so each cross feels like the last cross.
“It was not too difficult for Hull today: a few good goals, quick possession, a few nice blocks in the box so they could win. We lost the game in the first half and we have to change.”
This was supposed to be Sadio Mané’s triumphant and long-awaited return to reform the league-dominating XI that walloped this same Hull side 5-1 just a few short months ago; but it instead turned into another damaging and demoralizing loss as the absences of Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan on the day. in addition to Klopp’s continued insistence on picking the staid duo of Jordan Henderson/Emre Can as a double pivot, served to nullify the Reds efforts at both ends of the pitch.
“In the moment, I can’t begin to think about the [February 11th matchup against] Tottenham, I’m still trying to understand what happened here today...There are a few explanations for a few performances. There was obviously a lack of rhythm. You could see that players [have been] long injured, not in best shape, not here or whatever, not 100%.
“In the second half, it was not a real issue, but in these situations you need luck and luck you have to deserve. But obviously we didn’t [deserve any luck] because in the first half we didn’t show that we should get something here today. That’s fair and now we have to change it immediately.”