The expectation for Liverpool heading into the 2022-23 season was that Jürgen Klopp’s Reds would be in the thick of the title race over the first three months, with a number of their key stars not taking part in the winter World Cup then setting them up for a strong second half push for glory.
The reality has been somewhat different. Dropped points despite some generally solid performances early were followed by dropped points in poor performances, and a squad exhausted by their efforts in recent years has begun to look shattered. Still, they say they haven’t given up hope.
“I am very sad for the team because we didn’t start very well,” reflected Ibrahima Konaté, who returned from injury in Sunday’s 3-2 defeat at unexpected league leaders Arsenal. “We tried to come back, 2-2, and after Arsenal scored one penalty. It’s very sad but we have to keep the head held up.
“Keep going to work every day, every day, every day. Sometimes it’s like that, but we don’t give up now and we have to work again, again and again. We have to talk to each other on the pitch and fight at the start of the game. We have to watch what was our mistake and try to not do this again.”
Making matters worse is that it’s hard to pinpoint one glaring problem. An issue that could be fixed to get Liverpool on track. While fans may have their favoured scapegoats amongst the players who gave them so much joy in recent years, the simple matter is that the entire team is struggling.
There is no player bar perhaps goalkeeper Alisson who could be said to have looked at their best this season—and a goalkeeper being a side’s standout performer is rarely a good sign, tending as it does to mean that the players in front of him are regularly giving him far too much work to do.
It’s frustrating and demoralizing enough for the fans. For the players, who pushed so hard and fell just short of a historic quadruple last season, it will be worse. And with the transfer window shut and another month until the World Cup, it’s hard to see how things get better in the short-term.
“Yes, of course it’s a lot,” Konaté added of their growing feelings of frustration. “We did not expect [the season to go like this]. After I was not really with the team in the last months I cannot really explain this situation, but now I am back and I will try to do everything to help the team.”