Too early to say Liverpool are past their prime: Klopp

LIVERPOOL, UK, October 31Jurgen Klopp said it was his job as Liverpool manager to weather a difficult start to the season as he slammed suggestions his side were in decline.

The Reds have won just four of their first 12 Premier League games to fall 15 points behind leaders Arsenal and are already eight adrift of a top-four place.

Successive defeats to Premier League strugglers Nottingham Forest and Leeds have added to Liverpool’s misery.

Klopp and the Liverpool hierarchy have been criticized for not doing more to rejuvenate a side that came close to winning an unprecedented quadruple of trophies last season.

But the German claims a string of injuries means it’s unfair to pass judgment on players and his own position until the end of the season.

“I think the judgment for that will be later in the season or at the end of the season when we say ‘it’s all for this group of players or for this manager’,” Klopp said ahead of Napoli’s visit to Napoli. Anfield in the Champions League on Tuesday.

“At the moment it’s not fair to judge the squad 100% because we’ve never had them all, especially now up front, we’re lacking in top quality which isn’t helpful.”

Liverpool are currently without forwards Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota, while Andy Robertson, Ibrahima Konate, Joel Matip, Thiago Alcantara and Darwin Nunez have all been unavailable at times during the first months of the season.

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Klopp is credited with transforming Liverpool’s fortunes for seven years in charge.

He led the club to three Champions League finals and won Liverpool’s first league title for 30 years in 2020.

Insisting that he is still ready to restore Liverpool to their former glory, Klopp added: “It’s not a silver bullet, but we won’t stop fighting.

“People look at me and say ‘he looks tired’ or whatever but I’m not.

“I can’t give that excuse. My job is not just to be here when the sun is shining and someone gives us a trophy.

“My job is to be there when we go through a really tough time and I will do that with everything I have.”

Liverpool are at least already guaranteed a place in the knockout stages of the Champions League.

But they will have to inflict Napoli’s first defeat of the season and win by four goals if they are to knock the Italians from top spot in Group A.

“In the Champions League, the most important thing is to pass and qualify for the knockout stage. That’s what we did,” Klopp said.

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“It’s a football game broadcast around the world. We’ll have a full Anfield and that means we have to put in a proper change and that’s what we’ll do.

Carol N. Valencia