John Aldridge: Klopp has earned the right to stay but the real Liverpool need to stand up now
No way Anfield Reds should be drowning like this but local derby can be line in sand
The time has come for the real Liverpool to stand up in tomorrow night’s Merseyside derby against Everton at Anfield.
There is no way a team this good should be playing as badly as they have been over the last few weeks – and Jurgen Klopp and his players have to put it right quickly.
After last weekend’s shocking display against Wolves, I think a top-four finish in the Premier League is now out of reach.
I just don’t see Liverpool beating Everton and then going on a ten-game winning run, which is what they would need to rescue this season.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Liverpool are out of every European competition next season.
But we have been here before and should never question manager Jurgen Klopp.
A couple of years back, all seemed lost in the push for a top-four finish, but Alisson Becker’s famous goal at West Bromwich Albion helped the club over the line and that’s what can happen.
Great players and great managers find a way when others don’t – and while it’s hard to be positive about Liverpool after all we have seen so far in 2023, they still have time to turn it all around.
This derby against Everton has the potential to be the perfect game to get back on track, or it could be the worst possible game.
The pressure will be massive as it is the derby – and given Liverpool’s recent form, I’m not confident they will get a positive result.
They have lost all belief in each other in all areas of the team, they look disjointed and the strikers are not scoring the goals to cover up the holes in other areas of the team.
It does hurt when you have loads of injuries to proven players and Virgil van Dijk’s absence at the back has been a massive blow, but that is not the only reason Liverpool have been slipping.
Last weekend’s defeat at Wolves was a real blow because they are not a great team, and they were made to look like Brazil at times.
The midfield is a massive problem for me because while young Stefan Bajcetic did okay, Thiago and Fabinho have lost their way and Naby Keita should not be in the team.
Keita is running his contract down and will leave in the summer.
He hasn’t pulled up any trees for Liverpool since he has been at the club, he doesn’t track back, and I wouldn’t have him near the team tomorrow night.
The manager has to go to his tried and trusted line-up and that means bringing Jordan Henderson and possibly even James Milner back into the midfield as this will be a battle.
Sean Dyche’s arrival at Everton will ensure they are fighting for every scrap to get away from the relegation zone – and Liverpool have to match them.
They haven’t been matching teams for effort and desire in recent weeks, and Klopp said as much after the Wolves game.
He was horrified by the display in the first 15 minutes of that match and will be expecting a response from his big players in a game that means so much to fans.
Everton always fight like terriers against Liverpool as this is their Cup Final, and the midfield battle could decide this game.
The first goal will be crucial because if Liverpool fall behind, they can lose their way in games.
Alternatively, if the first goal is scored by a player in red, it can turn around quickly.
The crowd will then rise to get behind Liverpool and, as we have seen time and again down the years, Anfield under the lights is a special place when the fans are given something cheer.
Get Mo Salah firing again, get Thiago playing at the level we know he is capable of, get Van Dijk leading the team from the back and everything changes.
And as for those suggesting that Klopp needs to go and a new manager needs to come in, get a grip of yourself.
This is the best manager Liverpool have had since Bill Shankly and he has worked miracles over the last few years, so he has more than earned the right to time to get back on track.
As do these players, as they have given Liverpool fans so much joy in recent years, and they can do so again.
The Liverpool players should view this game against Everton as an opportunity to flip the season on its head.
If they embrace the challenge of playing a derby and turning the season around, it’s all there for Liverpool tomorrow night.
On the other hand, if they play like they did at Wolves last weekend, I dread think what might happen.
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