Liverpool vs Ajax: live score and latest Champions League updates

JUrgen Klopp is demanding a reaction to the “worst performance of his tenure at Liverpool” when his side face Ajax on Tuesday.

There have been so many outdoor meetings at Liverpool’s training ground this season that it must be one of the healthiest places in the country.

The first sobering post-match debriefing between Klopp and his players was after the loss to Manchester United in August. The latter, after last Wednesday’s blow in Naples, felt more serious given his team’s lackluster performance this season.

“I watched the game many times back and it was a real horror show to be honest,” Klopp said of the 4-1 loss in Italy.

“We showed the guys and the situations. They knew, but seeing it again makes it really obvious. It was the worst game we’ve played since I’ve been here. We had a few bad games – everyone remembers Aston Villa (7-2 defeat) and some others where we just weren’t up to par, but there were always flashes in those games. In this particular game: nothing. Then you need to understand why this happens.

The unexpected weekend break gave Klopp more time to find solutions.

His focus during the pre-match press conference was defence, although it would be simplistic to assume that means he only holds the back four accountable.

Liverpool’s problem is structural, individual mistakes at the back highlighting the lack of defense further up, especially a pedestrian midfield. Klopp suggested his players win more individual duels.

“We have to realize that everything starts with the defense and we have to give ourselves a chance to celebrate winning a challenge again,” Klopp said.

“There is no good game when a team plays flawlessly in attack and in defense they are just a mess, but there are games where teams defend well and do not play well in attack. It’s all based on real defense and that’s what we have to do and what we have to show.”

Asked if he had been more vocal than usual with his players, Klopp said: “Yes. I have to do something. I can’t sit and wait to see how we react.

“Not that I had to say much about it, but I did anyway. There are now four or five days of absolute truth. We didn’t hide anything, we didn’t keep anything quiet, there was no need for that. We just said it like it is, but not to knock the players or anything, just to make sure that where we are now is the starting point for us and make sure we solve the problems together on the pitch. Is this the situation I wanted? No. But now that you are in it, you find it interesting and challenging.

Klopp’s options have been boosted by Thiago Alcantara’s ability to start again, although Andy Robertson will be out until the end of the international break with a leg injury picked up in Naples.

“A lot of good things have happened in the past and this team has shown incredible consistency over a long period of time,” Klopp said.

“I know how this business works. I didn’t read a word of what was being said about us, but most of it was probably fair. I watched the game many times back and I would ask many questions about the people, the manager and the specific players. It’s absolutely fine and we need to respond. We have to talk about it, we have to show it and we have to train it.”

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