In the six weeks since the 2022-23 season kicked off, Liverpool have gone from one of the title favourites to looking like it will be in a fight to finish top four. In Europe, after their first group stage game, making the knockouts looks like it will be a challenge.
According to former Liverpool star Robbie Fowler, that doesn’t mean Jürgen Klopp’s side is a spent force. This isn’t the end of an era. This Liverpool side are in the midst of a rough patch with some very real problems to solve, but they aren’t suddenly terrible.
“Liverpool have some real problems, there’s no doubt about that, and no hiding from it either,” Fowler noted. “In the insane parallel universe of social media it’s the end of a era, the disintegration of the Klopp empire, the collapse of his team as a force
“In real life, it doesn’t happen in seven games. Liverpool were on the verge of a historic quadruple. They were a few minutes away from the title. They were by far the better team in the Champions League final. Great teams do decline, but it’s over years, not days.”
While Fowler doesn’t see Klopp’s men as a finished group—albeit they have looked awfully tired at times in the opening weeks—he does think their struggles reflect something of a miscalculation on the recruitment front in the summer transfer window.
Namely in that they gambled on an aging and injury-prone core staying fit—which they mostly did last season—and in doing so mistook numbers for quality, resulting in a situation where they’re now overly reliant on talented but inexperienced young players.
“So you have to look at other issues, and the chief amongst them is injuries,” he added. “I’m not saying midfielders injured is an excuse, I’m saying Liverpool made an error not planning for injuries. They made the big mistake of thinking numbers meant quality.
“Jürgen Klopp said nine was enough and it was last season. But was it this time when you have players in Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keïta, and Thiago with a history of injuries, and then Jordan Henderson and James Milner who have suffered fairly regular injuries?
“That leaves them with three kids and Fabinho, which isn’t enough. All three kids are good players, but they’re not yet elite. I’d also say that applies to Darwin Nunez, who is still young so it’s unfair to say he has to be an instant replacement for Sadio Mané.”