Liverpool started the season in fine form, overcoming one of the most difficult early schedules and building a foundation many believed established them as title contenders. Five points dropped against bottom half teams the last two weeks has that foundation looking far less solid.
In the press, ex-player pundits have been quick to make strong statements about what’s gone wrong and who is to blame. It’s hardly surprising. Mild and moderate, after all, doesn’t help the ratings, and it’s ratings that matter for the talking head class. Still, it has Jürgen Klopp a little disappointed.
“My job is to protect the players as much as we can,” said the Liverpool manager when asked about the uptick in criticism over the past few weeks. “I’m not surprised by it. In my first press conference I spoke about the English media and the pundits, the former players.
“The former players have completely forget how it felt to be criticised. Especially the Neville brothers. The one who was a manager, he should know. I don’t listen to them. Tell him I’m not on Twitter so if he wants to tell me something, Twitter doesn’t help.”
The quickest way to get the likes of Gary Neville and his brother to quiet down, though, will be on the pitch. If Liverpool can get things back on track, their mood will instantly shift from one of criticism to one of praise as it was early in the season when Liverpool were winning.
And having now dropped five points from their last two games, if Liverpool are to get what looked like a promising title challenge back on track, they will need to start winning again in a hurry—starting with Middlesborough on Wednesday as they start on a busy holiday run.
Title winning form this season is likely to be north of 2.25 points per game, and having dropped five of the last six points available to them, if Liverpool want to hit that mark they now need 18 points from their next six games to make up for it.
Do that, and it will certainly shut the Neville brothers up. Stumble again against Middlesborough, and the criticism will double again.