Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has told his players there is no room for self-pity in an underwhelming season which has had its fair share of disappointments but still is only halfway through.
After last weekend’s added-time defeat to Brighton ended their defence of the FA Cup, Klopp highlighted the body language of some of his players, while stand-in captain Andy Robertson admitted the campaign had deteriorated since the World Cup break.
Some players are looking woefully short of form, Fabinho’s disastrous late cameo at the Amex a case in point, but with the side 10 points adrift of fourth place, albeit with a match in hand, Klopp cannot afford for any of his injury-hit squad to start feeling sorry for themselves.
“Self-pity is not allowed in these moments. We are human beings and know these moments when you think ‘Oh my God, everything is going against me’,” he said.
“There’s only one person who can change that really and it’s yourself. These kind of things can happen and will happen in the future as well, but it’s about limiting the time to get back on track.”
While Klopp was at a loss to properly explain why the likes of Fabinho and captain Jordan Henderson, both dropped to the bench for recent matches as a new-look midfield was tried with some success, and to a lesser extent Mohamed Salah, have struggled for form, he knows the situation can be turned around.
And he pointed to the recent resurgence of Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford this season after more than 18 months in the wilderness as an example.
“We all see that some players didn’t exactly reach the level they reached for us consistently over four or five or six years. That’s not unusual, it happens to other players as well,” added Klopp ahead of the trip to face Wolves for the third time in 29 days.
“One of the best examples ever probably will be Marcus Rashford. The season he had last year and the season he has this year, I’m not sure he can really explain it.
“Erik ten Hag coming in, new boys, a different approach, of course (makes a difference) but it’s not as though Marcus didn’t want to deliver last year. Now he is flying. That’s how it goes.
“The times in between these two extremes we have to use and go through it and fight through it.
“The team performances are obviously a summary of the individual performances, but the other way around it works as well: the individual performances are influenced massively by the team performance.
“That doesn’t change the view on the players in general but you have to make decisions for the moment for the line-up, and that’s maybe a bit more of a problem for the manager because when you realise it’s not only a little dip and it is going on longer, do we have alternatives?
“For the player it’s a situation which he will face during a long career. Not only once but probably two or three times.
“You have to get through this and the players I know, my players, they will go through that and show again how good they are.”
On Fabinho specifically, Klopp said: “We don’t have arguments on the pitch or the training ground. He knows that he is not flying and has to work his way back. In the moment it’s not clicking.”
Liverpool have not been helped by untimely injuries with the latest to Ibrahima Konate (hamstring) meaning Klopp will have to field another centre-back partnership of Joe Gomez and Joel Matip, who has not featured in the last three matches.
“It’s a muscle injury. Again he didn’t think it was massive, it happened in the game, I asked him after the game, ‘Are you OK?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, I’m OK’,” said Klopp on Konate.
“After the game: treatment, scan, ‘bam’. Out. It’s not cool all the changes, you don’t want to have that. You want to make them when you rotate and bring them together when everyone is in a perfect moment.
“But Joey and Joel played together before so not a massive problem, but it is not perfect that’s clear.”