Premier League

Graeme Souness explains why Liverpool are a ‘mile off’ their usual selves | Football

Jurgen Klopp’s side is in a slump (Picture: Getty Images)

Graeme Souness has spoken out about Liverpool’s poor start to the season, suggesting there is one specific “non-negotiable” demand of football that the team is not delivering.

The Reds finished last season just a point behind Premier League champions Manchester City while suffering a defeat by Real Madrid in the Champions League final.

The 2022/23 season has not gone according to plan so far, with just nine points from their first six league games.

Their first game in European competition this season provided an opportunity to rebound, but they suffered a 4-1 defeat by Napoli midweek to continue their difficult start to the season.

The intensity with which Jürgen Klopp’s team was so successful has been visibly lacking in recent weeks.

Liverpool legend Souness believes there are a number of reasons why the performances have been underperforming, but primarily a “non-negotiable” one is not being met.

Ex-footballer Graeme Souness

Graeme Souness says Liverpool are a long way from their game (Image: Getty Images)

“You can talk to all the modern coaches and analysts you like, use the latest buzz terminology and fill these sports sites with all the data you can get your hands on – but the only non-negotiable part of winning football games is, to be first to the ball,” Souness told the Daily Mail.

“Right now Liverpool are not doing that. And that’s why they are miles away from the team we knew them from when Jurgen Klopp was at the club.

“There are all sorts of reasons offered by the people with the data and the big theories. They will tell you about the Liverpool High Line. That Mo Salah is not the same player he was. About Trent Alexander-Arnold, who appeared to run back during Wednesday night’s 4-1 loss as two of Napoli’s goals came. But Liverpool just don’t seem to have the same energy.

“I certainly didn’t see the same salah. He’s signed the big deal he wanted and I really hope we don’t see him half getting in his chair over it.

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool FC

Mohamed Salah hasn’t reached the heights of previous seasons (Image: Getty Images)

“The need for intensity is a collective thing. It’s always been like that, ever since I was a player at the club. They like to call it ‘pressing’ now, but when I was playing we just called it ‘closing down’. If one person doesn’t, the whole system collapses and you might as well be relegated and be a team playing counter-attacking football.

“In my opinion, Liverpool need another battle-hardened, experienced midfielder at the core of their team, who chooses the pass and capitalizes on the movement of the strikers,” added Souness.

“Klopp said he didn’t need that big name this summer. He listed the young players who he says can step up and do a job for him. It’s good to hear he believes in guys like Harvey Elliott and Curtis Jones.

“This is great news for any young player at Liverpool. But this is a harsh and unforgiving environment that we are talking about. It’s a big leap from midfielders like Thiago, who is 31, Jordan Henderson, 32, and James Milner, 36, to these youngsters.

“There is no questioning the quality of Liverpool’s newest signing Arthur Melo but will he be able to handle the intensity of the English game considering Liverpool play games with the intensity of the cup final every weekend and everyone has to be there at all times?”

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