Tom Werner, part of Liverpool’s ownership group FSG, has listed three reasons why he believes the Reds have struggled on the pitch this season.
Having strolled to a first league title in thirty years last term, things have been very different this time around. Jurgen Klopp’s side are currently seventh in the league and a massive 25 points behind leaders Manchester City. They also have a fight on their hands to secure a top four finish, with fourth placed Chelsea five points ahead as things stand.
It has been quite the drop off by the Anfield club after two years of impressive consistency.
And while Werner accepts the team haven’t performed as well as hoped, he has tried to explain why that may be.
Speaking to the Athletic (via Liverpool Echo) he said: “I would say we’ve certainly not exceeded expectations this year.
“I would have three comments. One is that in my experience, it is extremely hard to be a repeat champion, no matter what the sport.
“You climb Mount Everest and you get to the top, and then somebody says ‘you have to do it again.’ And so it’s challenging under the best of circumstances.
“Secondly, I think that, I don’t want to make excuses, but I do think this pandemic has affected Liverpool and the Red Sox in the way that these are very loyal and supportive fan bases, and people used to think that it would be very difficult to win a football match an Anfield, because it’s a fortress.
“And this year we’ve seen a number of matches that Liverpool has not played up to its capability. I think a lot of that is the absence of our loyal supporters.
“So, I think the pandemic has perhaps affected us a little bit more. But I also don’t want to make excuses.”
Having gone a record 68 games unbeaten at Anfield between April 2017 and January 2021, Liverpool are now on their worst run at home in their history.
A 1-0 defeat to Burnley ended the streak and has been followed by five more defeats. They include Manchester City’s first win at Anfield since 2003, Everton’s first victory on the other side of Stanley Park since 1999 and, most recently, a shock loss to lowly Fulham.
Liverpool injuries take their toll
Werner’s third and final point is one many others have pointed to- injuries.
The Reds have had to cope without key players throughout the campaign, and Werner pointed to one in particular.
“Injuries are the third point. And again, that’s a part of sports,” he continued.
“When the Everton goalkeeper took out Virgil van Dijk for the season, that was a blow because he was not only such a critical part of our defence, but a leader.
“But you know, I’ve been doing sports for 20 years, and I’ve seen a lot of, it’s very difficult when you have multiple injuries to constitute your team.
“If Chris Sale [star Red Sox pitcher] goes down, it’s not as simple as ‘OK, well your No. 2 starter becomes your No. 1 starter, and your No. 3 starter becomes your No. 2 starter.’”
Werner finished with some praise for Liverpool, whose results in Europe has been in stark contrast to their Premier League form.
“It really changes so much, and yet, (Liverpool is) still fighting for success in the Champions League this year.
“There’s only eight teams still left in the tournament and we’re one of them, and we’ve got some world-class players who are capable.
“At its best, Liverpool is as good as any team in European football.”
The Merseysiders take on Real Madrid in the first leg of their quart-final next Tuesday. It will be the first time they have met since the 2018 final, which the Spaniards won 3-1.
However, the man seen as the ‘villain’ of that match, Sergio Ramos, could miss both legs through injury, meaning the much anticipated reunion with Mohamed Salah may not happen after all.
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