Liverpool sit sixth in the Premier League and David James gives his thoughts on why Jurgen Klopp’s side have hit a dip.
David James believes that Liverpool have to be realistic that they may not qualify for next season’s Champions League – and a period of consolidation could be required.
The Reds face an uphill battle if they’re to compete in Europe’s elite club competition for a seventh successive campaign.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have suffered stuttering form in the Premier League, having most recently lost 3-1 to Brentford. It leaves Liverpool seven points behind fourth-placed Manchester United.
Failing to qualify for the Champions League would mean a significant loss of revenue for the Reds – and potentially make them less attractive when recruiting players.
James, speaking at the launch of William Hill’s new Liverpool Central shop, believes that owners Fenway Sports Group will have ‘risk management’ in place if Liverpool were to drop into the Europa League.
And should that happen, the ex-Reds goalkeeper feels Klopp will then look to rebuild.
WHAT’S BEEN SAID
James told LiverpoolWorld: “With regards to finance, I would like to think it’s financed in the right way and there was risk management in place that there might be a season or two where we don’t finish in the Champions League [places].
“If that’s not the case then you need to have a look at the board and ask why it’s set up that way. I think that from a competitive side, this immediate need that for some reason that we’ve grown into as a society, that Liverpool have to win something every season, have to qualify for the Champions League, have to win the Champions League.
“Where if you look at the bigger picture, look at what we did last season – two firsts and two seconds. Look at previous seasons, we won the Champions League, we got to a final. We’ve done so much in a short period of time, does there need to be some kind of respite where we can consolidate and build for the following season.
It’s not a very good advertising slogan, we’re not going to try to win this season but I don’t think it’s a case of not trying, it’s a case of being realistic.
“If the worst-case scenario is that we don’t finish in the Champions League positions, we are in a position to go the next season.”
It doesn’t quite fill the gap’
Liverpool have won just eight of their 17 Premier League games and picked up one point in their opening three fixtures.
Certainly, the Reds’ form has come as a surprise given they went agonisingly close to an unprecedented quadruple last term. Klopp’s men won the FA Cup and Carabao Cup but fell just short in the Premier League and Champions League.
James reckons suffering such heartbreak, coupled with the number of injuries Liverpool have sustained, are chief reasons behind their poor form.
He added: ‘It’d have to be a big finger to put a finger on it. Obviously, the injuries at the beginning of the season hamstrung the team, excuse the pun. The interesting thing when you get muscle injuries as opposed to impact injuries is that something isn’t quite right somewhere. If something isn’t quite right it suggests some might have been pushed next to the limit.
The beginning of the season didn’t start too well and when a professional sportsman has physical challenges, it puts more strain on your mental capacity. Think how short pre-season was on the back of almost a perfect season that all fell down in a week to 10 days losing out on the Premier League on the final day and then the Champions League final. Sometimes something so positive has a massive negative value at the end of it.
“I would argue, I’ve not been in the position but Premier League and Champions League (finishing as runners-up) but we won the two cups. It doesn’t quite fill the gap. I love both cup competitions so let’s not undermine them but because of the timing of the two finals, it would have been different had it been the other way around. This season would have started differently had Liverpool won the Champions League, the Premier League as well would have been beyond most people’s wildest dreams.
“The key thing at the start of the season, you lose [Luis] Diaz as well and it doesn’t take long. I’m not saying things become fractured in the changing room but it’s very difficult to be ultra-positive and consistently not positive.”