The red half of Liverpool was supposed to be dominant this year. Acquisitions such as Mohamed Salah, Dominic Solanke, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were supposed to push Liverpool Football Club to title challengers. Thus far, the results haven’t been there, with the red men winning only 5 of 11 games in all competitions, and crashing out of the Carabao Cup in the first round. Additionally, the reds have disappointed in the Champions League, recently settling for a 1-1 away draw to Spartak Moscow. After extensive scholarly research into the club’s slow start, here are the three reasons that can account for Liverpool’s early struggles.
Jürgen Klopp’s amnesia
On June 16, Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp reached a big milestone when he turned 50 years old. The German arrived in Merseyside on October 15th with an impeccable pedigree (and even more impeccable hair), and immediately filled fans with hope. After some dominant performances and a strong-maiden campaign in which Klopp brought the club to their first Champions League in four years, the spark is missing this year.
It appears that age has caught up with the German. According to the American Association of Retired Persons, early signs of mental and physical deterioration start at the age of 50. Klopp has been in the danger zone for three months now, and the signs are concerning. Amnesia has clearly set in, as the German often opts to play natural striker Roberto Firmino on the wing, despite his excellent performances through the middle last year. Additionally, Alberto Moreno has started twice at left back, reminding every left back that they too can someday play professional soccer.
Another potential area of concern for Liverpool is the striking resemblance between Klopp and his fitness coach Andreas Kornmayer. The latter, formerly employed by Bayern Munich, is regarded as an expert in conditioning and nutrition. However, he is not without fault. Despite his impressive track record in helping Bayern become a European power again, his resemblance to Klopp is simply too distracting. The two look exactly the same. This is a big problem in the last moments of a high intensity match because when players get tired and mentally drained, having two Klopp’s on the sideline is incredibly confusing. How are the 11 professionals on the pitch supposed to distinguish between the two? Tactics can simply not be regarded as reliable, and the performances on the pitch suffer.
Curse of Arsenal
Liverpool and Arsenal have always been rivals on the pitch, but over the last few years, animosity has developed when doing business in the transfer market. Kolo Toure was regarded as a traitor when he signed for Liverpool having played seven years at Arsenal. Although Toure came to Liverpool at 32, he lived out three very successful years at Anfield, playing his way into the hearts of fans. It is clear then, that when Liverpool purchased Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Arsenal this summer for $50 million, that Arsene Wenger put a curse on the talented Englishman. An impact player for Arsenal, “the Ox” has looked lethargic and overwhelmed in the Liverpool red. Players with such talent don’t struggle for no reason. The only possible explanation is dark magic from a frustrated Wenger.
Of course, there are many more possible explanations for the slow start. Liverpool’s depth at center back is often difficult for Klopp to manage. Additionally, there has not nearly been enough transfer drama surrounding star player Philippe Coutinho to truly motivate the team. Whatever the root of the problem is, there is no easy fix. That being said, they could just be lulling other teams into a false sense of security.