Jürgen Klopp: ‘If we play like we did in the first half, why should we win the league?’

Jürgen Klopp was left with plenty to ponder after his Liverpool side were defeated by Crystal Palace at Anfield on Sunday. The Reds were looking to bounce back from a midweek defeat against Atalanta in the UEFA Europa League, but come the full-time whistle, it was Eberechi Eze’s first-half goal that separated the two sides.

The pressure is building on Merseyside. Not only are Jürgen Klopp’s men trailing by three goals ahead of the second leg of a European quarterfinal, but they’ve suffered elimination from the Emirates FA Cup at the hands of their greatest historic rivals – and now the wheels look to be falling off as they continue their pursuit of the Premier League title.

Klopp’s departure at the end of the season is undoubtedly a contributing factor. Such is the impact that he’s had on the club since his arrival in 2015, his players are keen to see him off on a high – but less than three months on from the announcement of his decision to step away, Liverpool’s trophy hopes are waning.

The German gave a damning assessment of Sunday’s defeat when he spoke to the media post-match. ‘If we play like we did in the first half, why should we win the league? If you play like in the second half, we can win football games – so if we can win football games, then we will see how many we can win,’ he explained.

Embed from Getty Images

‘We have to be around when the other guys now struggle, if they struggle, so that’s how it is. For us, obviously we have to win football games anyway.’

‘We now have a string of four away games, if I’m right, and that would have been tough anyway, it will be tough and we know that. That’s clear that we have to deal with that now and that’s the easy thing. There is nothing else really to say. The criticism in these moments is completely fine and absolutely right, it’s all about how we deal with it.’

Defeat at the hands of Manchester United in the Emirates FA Cup was followed by a 2-2 draw against the Red Devils in the Premier League just three weeks later, but Klopp insisted that the problems displayed in those fixtures weren’t responsible for the loss against Crystal Palace.

‘The problems we had in the United games were completely different to the things we had today. Yes, the goals we conceded are too easy, that’s probably a general thing that is true. We expected a reaction and we saw a reaction that we lost in that game [against Atalanta], more than only the game a little bit.’

‘[Against Crystal Palace], we showed the right reaction in the game, we didn’t give in or whatever, or think, ‘That’s another day off.’ Not at all, the boys really tried hard but in the end it was not enough, we have to admit that as well. The ‘conviction’ I talked about, our formation was never really there for causing Palace problems.’

‘The diagonal balls they play you can only defend by putting the guy on the ball under pressure, there is no other chance to do that. We didn’t do that and that means they can play and then the whole formation is constantly making runs – we do it then to defend them, but it’s not for winning the ball, it’s just for defending them and that’s a big difference.’