Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admits there were four or five days of ‘absolute truths’ being told to the players in a series of open-air meetings after the Champions League ‘horror show’ in last week against Napoli.
It was not just the 4-1 scoreline in their Group A opener, but the manner of defeat and chaotic performance that caused concern among the coaching staff.
With a free weekend due to the cancellation of all football following the Queen’s death, Klopp and his staff had ample opportunity to put it on the line with his team and there was no holding back .
“I watched the game many times and it was a real horror show to be honest. It was the worst game we’ve played since I’ve been here,” he said ahead of the visit. of Ajax.
“Eight out of 11 were below their level and the other three were not top level, just a normal game.
“I have to do something, I can’t sit here and wait for our reaction. Is this the situation I wanted? No. But now that you’re there, you find it interesting and challenging.
“(We had a) general assembly, showing these situations and they are too obvious. It was not necessary to say much but I did it anyway.
“Have I questioned the players? Generally, no. In this situation, yes. ‘Why would you do that? Why would we do that?’
“When James Milner comes too late in a challenge and we lose challenges where we would usually win them, you know something is wrong.
“There are now four or five days of absolute truth. We didn’t hide anything, we didn’t hide anything, it was not necessary.
“We just said how it is, but not to knock players down or anything, just to make sure where we are now is the starting point for us and we’re making sure we work things out together on field.
“There was no pointing at each other, that was pretty much the good thing about the game.”
Defender Joel Matip admits those truths have been hard to hear, but thinks it was important that all questions were aired.
“Sometimes it hurts and that’s normal but in a good team, which I think we are, you can speak those truths,” he said.
“You don’t like to hear them sometimes at the first moment, but everyone knows that something has to happen, we have to improve and we have to work on this stuff and, for this stuff, you have to speak up.”
Klopp believes part of the problem at Napoli may have been the players trying to over-correct a disappointing start to the season.
They had won just two of their first six league matches and performances were both frustrating and disappointing.
However, he told them that he didn’t want individuals going on hero missions as it has to be a collective effort.
“We had obvious football problems, in defense and in attack, but what led to this problem was a poor appreciation of the situation,” he said.
“I know the players want to fix the situation: we are not happy with our season so far.
“In this game, it seemed like everyone wanted to sort things out but on their own and that didn’t give us the structure to work together.”