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Liverpool are now the opposite of what made them so feared under Jurgen Klopp

Liverpool have taken just nine points from a possible 39 in games when they have conceded first this season.


In the wake of Liverpool’s latest away-day defeat, the glib jokes flew with more than a hint of truth in jest.


It was claimed that Jurgen Klopp’s side had decided to show solidarity with Gary Lineker and his striking BBC Sport colleagues by making sure there were no highlights to be found from their 1-0 defeat at Bournemouth when a presenter-less Match of the Day aired later that night. Gallows humour indeed.


An offside goal, a penalty miss and a first-half clearance off the line aside, the dry-humoured point about the paucity of Liverpool’s display was well made across social media on Saturday afternoon.


The defeat was their eighth of a largely miserable league campaign, with the seven of those coming on the road. It’s their worst run away from Anfield since 2010-11 when Roy Hodgson was put of his misery mid-season and the Reds eventually recovered enough to finish sixth under Sir Kenny Dalglish.


A woeful return of just 12 points from 13 away games is the key factor behind Liverpool’s struggles this term. It is why they find themselves six adrift of the top four as we approach the middle of March.


It is something Klopp is acutely aware of, saying after Saturday’s game: “I am concerned, yes. I see it. I see it. The home record, we are in the top four if I am right but away games we are not even in the European places.


“There is always a reason for the situation you are in and the away record is for sure. We could have had more points at home as well, not that we should have but away from home, definitely.



“It was a big strength for us in the last few years, we never made a difference between [home and away] but that is what happens when you do the right things consistently in the right way. And with the quality we have, we have a good chance to win away from home as well, just this season not often enough. It’s a clear point to be honest.”


It is why the optimism from last weekend’s historic victory over Manchester United has been replaced by genuine trepidation for Wednesday’s Champions League visit to European champions Real Madrid, a side who registered five at Anfield just a few weeks ago.


That 7-0 demolition of United had some optimists starting to believe that a famous comeback at the Bernabeu could even be in the offing prior to the shuddering halt of momentum on the south coast at the weekend.


“One thing we’ve learned this season is to deal with setbacks and we have to make sure we recover properly because we obviously have a big game Wednesday,” a dejected Klopp added at the Vitality.


One of the most concerning aspects of this season for Klopp is how his side have seemingly lost their ability to respond to any setback they are dealt. The Reds have taken just nine points from 39 available to them in games when they have conceded first this term. It’s a startling statistic that highlights the lack of belief in their own ability whenever things conspire against them.


Only in five of 13 games when they have fallen behind have Liverpool gained anything. The 2-1 turnaround at home to Newcastle United in August was completed in the 98th minute of the game, but there has been precious little evidence of that never-say-die attitude since. Wout Faes’ comical brace of own goals helped them, somewhat fortuitously, to a 2-1 home win against Leicester City in late December, while points were earned at home to Crystal Palace and Brighton after a 2-2 draw at Fulham in early August.



Aside from that, however, the pattern is clear: heads drop, confidence ebbs away and Liverpool meekly feel they are unable to rage against their own fate.


That mental fragility has been a relatively recent addition to the makeup of Klopp’s Liverpool; a team who have come to be referred to as the ‘mentality monsters’ – not least by their own manager, who famously christened them in the wake of their famous 4-0 comeback victory over Barcelona to reach the Champions League final nearly four years ago.


Right now, Klopp’s players are anything but and they have lost a key characteristic that has made them so feared in recent years. The mentality mice might be more appropriate right now.

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