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John Aldridge: Liverpool are in a dark place and Klopp has to solve it quickly

We have to start working out why this has happened to a team that was challenging for a quadruple last season.

Despair for Liverpool's Andy Robertson at the final whistle© Getty Images

John AldridgeSunday World

THAT was as bad as it gets for Liverpool at Brighton on Saturday.

They lost the game 3-0 and in truth, they could have been hammered by more because they were outfought, outplayed and beaten in every department that mattered on a dark day for Jurgen Klopp.

From first to last, Liverpool were so poor and we have to start working out why this has happened to a team that was challenging for a quadruple last season.

First of all, the absence of Virgil van Dijk, Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino and Darwin Nunez needs to be taken into account as they are key players for Klopp.

Yet every team has injuries and a club like Liverpool have to deal with that and turn in performances that are worthy of the badge on the jersey.

What we saw at Brighton yesterday didn’t do that.

The half-time stats confirmed Brighton had 64 per-cent possession and they also had the better openings to take a lead.

When you consider how bad Liverpool were going forward, they defended pretty well given the pressure that was put on the back four.

Yet I find myself asking where the team that came so close to winning the quadruple have gone, but maybe my frustration needs to be injected with a little perspective.

Liverpool looked blunt in attack as they were pushed onto the ropes by Brighton the opening 45 minutes, with Mohamed Salah continuing a theme for this season as he was very disappointing once again.

Cody Gakpo is finding his feet at Liverpool and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlian looked off the pace, so there was no attacking threat.

Of course, strikers need service to thrive and Liverpool’s attacking players got nothing from a midfield diamond that just didn’t work.

Klopp would have expected a response from his players in the second half, but he got the opposite.

Liverpool conceded a terrible goal in the opening minutes of the second half and they merely inspired them to drive on for more.

They were pressing Liverpool throughout and Liverpool simply couldn’t deal with it as the midfield was overrun once again and Brighton finished the game with nine shots on goal compared to two from Klopp’s team.

The home side dominated possession, won every battle they needed to and I was left struggling to find any positive as I couldn’t even watch the last ten minutes.

There is no bigger supporter of Klopp than me, but plenty of people were suggesting he looked very flat in his press conference on Friday, which was unlike him.

Jurgen Klopp apologised to Liverpool fans after the final whistle.© Getty Images

He got annoyed when he was asked a question about Liverpool’s transfer funds and there must be a concern that this great manager is losing faith with the game he is trying to play.

Competing against clubs with vastly bigger bank balances must be tiring and looking at the team he sent into battle yesterday, some of his players are as flat as their manager appears to be.

Top players should not need a word in their ear to get them fired up, but too many Liverpool players are under-performing this season and just for once, Klopp doesn’t seem to have the answers.

You look at guys like Thiago Alcantara and Mohamed Salah and they are not playing at the level we know they are capable of.

What we get with Thiago too often is the kind of game we witnessed at Brighton, as he struggled to get involved and had no impact.

Maybe the philosophy Klopp’s demands at Liverpool doesn’t suit him or English football, in general, is just a bit too fast for him, but Thiago is not doing what we know he can do in this team.

Salah is another concern because he has been off the pace for most of this season.

With so many forward players out, Liverpool need their biggest earner to step up and lead this team, but he lacked the service to trouble Brighton and didn’t seem to be able to get into the game at any point.

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 14: Mohamed Salah of Liverpool runs with the ball during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Liverpool FC at American Express Community Stadium on January 14, 2023 in Brighton, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)© Getty Images

In truth, it feels wrong to pick out Thiago and Salah for criticism because every Liverpool player was poor at Brighton and if you asked me to name anyone who came out of it with credit, I couldn’t.

Liverpool are now in a very dark place.

This is not as dark as it has been for Manchester United in recent years, but a top four finish and an FA Cup win look like the only realistic targets for Liverpool after their worst day of the season.

We have seen Klopp produce miracles with Liverpool teams in recent years, but it feels like the biggest rescue act of them all is needed now.

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