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John Aldridge: My theory on why Liverpool have lost their way this season

Liverpool’s hopes of an end-of-season revival hit after shocking defeat at Bournemouth.

Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool, looks on prior to the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Liverpool FC at Vitality Stadium. (Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images)© Getty Images

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - MARCH 11: Dominic Solanke of AFC Bournemouth battles for possession with Stefan Bajcetic and Diogo Jota of Liverpool during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Liverpool FC at Vitality Stadium on March 11, 2023 in Bournemouth, England. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)© Getty Images

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - MARCH 11: Mohamed Salah of Liverpool reacts after missing a penalty kick during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Liverpool FC at Vitality Stadium on March 11, 2023 in Bournemouth, England. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)© Getty Images

John AldridgeSunday World

You don’t often find me lost for words after a Liverpool game, but I am struggling to sum up their horrible display at Bournemouth.

In my role as a pundit for Liverpool’s in-house TV channel, my job was to try to find something positive to say about a display that was as poor as it gets.

Yet there was nothing I could offer to defend a team which deserved to lose against one of the worst teams in the Premier League.

After the euphoria of last weekend’s 7-0 win against Manchester United at Anfield, it felt as if the corner had been turned in this curious season.

Yet Klopp was as bewildered as the rest of us, as a team that looked to have all their swagger back against United, just six days earlier, came up horribly short again.

When you are given the privilege of wearing the famous Liverpool shirt, the least you can do is give your all to the cause.

Sadly, I couldn’t say I saw that yesterday.

Bournemouth wanted the win more than Liverpool – and I take no delight in writing those words.

They were quicker to the second balls, looked hungrier for the challenge – and you could see that the three points on offer in this game meant more to them than Liverpool.

If you take the first 20 minutes away from this game, this was a very poor performance from Liverpool as this bizarre and confusing season continues.

How can a team that were so close to winning all four trophies last season slide so far, so quickly?

A second question would be how can a team that played with such energy in the second half against Manchester United last Sunday turn in this performance in their next game?

Momentum is massive in football – and you can’t have a bigger injection of self-belief than a 7-0 win against your biggest rivals.

A place in the top four was within sight once again, until we were given an unwanted reminder about the flaws that have undermined Liverpool all season.

Ask me to pick out a player who came out of that mess at Bournemouth with any credit and I’m struggling.

Everyone turned in a six out of ten performance or worse and you can’t win football matches when every player is under par.

A pattern has developed in recent weeks and continued yesterday, as it’s clear to me that some Liverpool players are struggling to get themselves up for matches against the lesser teams, especially away from home.

When they have a big game, like United at Anfield, the players and the fans are all up for it – and you see the team playing like we know they can.

Then you look at the performance in the 3-0 defeat at Brighton, the 3-0 defeat at Wolves, the loss at Nottingham Forest and this display at Bournemouth – and you are left wondering what’s going on.

They are four of the worst teams in the Premier League, and they see a game against Liverpool as their Cup Final.

In the last few seasons, Klopp’s team had too much pace, power and desire for these relegation battlers to handle.

Yet all that has changed – and I look at Mohamed Salah’s body language, and something isn’t right.

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah misses a penalty (Kieran Cleeves/PA)© Kieran Cleeves

After his goals against United last Sunday, I was looking to Salah to lead the team for the rest of the season and starring banging in two or three goals a week consistently.

We all know how good Salah has been and still is, but he was dreadful yesterday and won’t need me to tell him that.

Take his missed penalty out of the equation and he turned in a display that lacked passion – and I hate to write negative things about a player who is an all-time Liverpool great.

There may be a debate over whether selling Salah this summer and using that money to reinvest in the team may be an option, but that idea can wait until the end of the season.

Between now and then, Salah has to lead Liverpool as the senior striker – and he simply didn’t do that at Bournemouth.

Where is the season going from here? Like Klopp, I have no idea, because there could be no excuses yesterday.

Liverpool have had injury problems with their forwards this season, but they are all coming back to form now and Diogo Jota did his best to have an impact off the bench.

Yet Liverpool need to solve their problem against the Premier League strugglers or their hopes of a top-four finish will evaporate in miserable fashion.

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