Beat Tottenham, lose to Leicester City. Beat Arsenal, and everyone’s sat crossing their fingers, toes, arms, and legs with a match against bottom-half Burnley on the docket. After a stellar autumn, Liverpool’s winter has been marked by too much poor play and too much inconsistency. Manager Jürgen Klopp is well aware of that.
“It’s obviously the case we are inconsistent,” Klopp admitted this week. “I know we don’t have to doubt the attitude, and the kind of attitude we usually are looking for was here against Arsenal. They were really motivated, and you cannot play like this if you have many issues, but we have struggled in other games.
“So, okay, you say it is about quality sometimes probably, yeah, we don’t have [enough] quality, but you make quality with work. If we judge players after the best game of the season, then we sign a contract for another six seasons. If we do it after Leicester then you change the whole squad, but the truth is always in between.”
That all poses something of a problem for the Liverpool manager when looking ahead to the future. The goal this season is clear, and anything less than a top four finish given the way they set themselves out in the autumn will have to be counted as a disappointment, and potentially a major one at that. But what comes next?
Liverpool have been hurt this season by having a thin squad, one that was kept intentionally light with no European commitments to worry about. Strengthening it will be key, but there will also be a need to improve the starting eleven. Who needs improving on, in recent weeks at least, has been rather difficult to pinpoint.
“That is what we are working on,” Klopp added when pressed on the issue of deciding how best to build this current squad out over the longer term. “There will be moments when we play like this and win again, and it is what he did this season already in fact. But we have to work on it.”