Jurgen Klopp admits Liverpool need to ‘reinvent’ themselves after Napoli punished an error-strewn display and caused a 4-1 defeat that added to their poor start to the Premier League season.
After winning just two of their first six Premier League games, the Reds launched their quest for the Champions League in southern Italy just 102 days after losing last season’s final to Real Madrid.
The trip to Napoli always looked like the toughest test of a group that also includes Ajax and Rangers, but few could have predicted the error-ridden performance that would unfold at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.
Piotr Zielinski, Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa and substitute Giovanni Simeone scored in a first half that luckily Liverpool ended just three goals behind.
Victor Osimhen had seen a penalty saved in the first half just before Virgil van Dijk blocked Khvicha from Kvaratskhelia on the line and Zielinski scored early in the second half on a night where Luis Diaz scored a consolation goal.
“You don’t think much after the game, you react more,” said Liverpool boss Klopp.
“We kind of have to reinvent ourselves because basic things weren’t there. It’s a difficult time, there’s no doubt about that.
“If you’re not playing exceptionally well, you can still defend at a really high level. We should be able to.
“Starting the game doesn’t help. If we want to defend better and concede a penalty after three minutes and then the next, of course you can’t do it exactly. Tonight we got caught in between.
“Nevertheless, it’s the job you have to do. That’s what I mean. It’s not like we have to reinvent a new kind of football.
“You’re always trying to improve, but at that moment everyone would obviously be happy if we could just play similar things to what we used to do.
“Tonight was the least compact performance I’ve seen from us in a long, long time… and other teams as well.
“Napoli were really good but we made it easy for them because we lost the ball in areas and then the next situation was a counterattack. No, it shouldn’t be like that.
“A couple of things are really clear, we need to change that and why that is now is also becoming increasingly clear.
“But I need time to just say the right things because it’s not 100 per cent clear right now.”
Klopp went to Liverpool’s traveling fans to apologize after a “very disappointing night” in Naples.
The Reds are hoping their stuttering start to the season has bottomed out with a defeat, even leading to the question of whether he was worried about his future given Chelsea’s sacking of Thomas Tuchel earlier in the day.
“Not really, but who knows,” Klopp said after the Group A opener. “The difference is obvious they’re different owners.
“Our owners tend to be quiet and expect me to handle the situation and not think someone else should handle it.
“That’s how they’ve always seen it, and the day they change their minds, they might tell me.”
While the injured Liverpool returns home and refocuses on Saturday’s home game against Wolves, Napoli fans will be partying late into the night – even if their head coach keeps his feet on the ground.
“I think we have to be clear,” said Luciano Spalletti. “Yes, we are very happy, I was happy to see this performance primarily because Napoli showed a great performance against a top team like Liverpool.
“But I think we have to be clear: we must not allow ourselves to be distracted by other situations.
“You notice above all how happy you send the fans home after a game like this. I’m really happy to see the smiles on the faces of the fans, but we have to go there again.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/jurgen-klopp-champions-league-napoli-liverpool-premier-league-b2162287.html Jurgen Klopp admits Liverpool are going through ‘difficult times’ after Napoli humiliation