Concern grows for Klopp as Liverpool decisions questioned amid quit rumours

What is going on at Liverpool?

Last season Jurgen Klopp's side stormed to the Premier League title. They made winning games look so easy it was almost boring.

Things are vastly different this campaign.

Liverpool have been hit very hard with injuries, which at the very least has disrupted the Reds' rhythm.

Liverpool's defensive linchpin Virgil van Dijk played just a handful of games before he suffered an ACL injury in October's Merseyside derby, seeing him out injured for the season.

Klopp has also been without: Diogo Jota, Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, Fabinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Naby Keita, Sadio Mane, Thiago Alcantara, Alisson, James Milner and Jordan Henderson.

This has been disruptive in itself but it has forced Klopp to have to regularly chop and change his starting XI.

This means that all too often this campaign players have featured in unfamiliar positions alongside team-mates they aren't used to lining up with.

Confidence has slowly but surely evaporated and the Liverpool team that started against Chelsea on Thursday night – despite looking impressive on paper – was a shadow of its former self.

Alexander-Arnold struggled to impact the game like he so often did last season. Roberto Firmino, Mane and Mohamed Salah meanwhile were snatching at the few chances that came their way.

Last year the front three were considered the most lethal in the Premier League – perhaps even the world.

But since the turn of the year the trio have managed just six goals between them.

Klopp tried his best to generate a spark from his players, who failed to have a shot on target in the first half against the Blues at Anfield on Thursday night.

The German was seen hugging a glum-looking Mane in the tunnel as the players made their way onto the pitch for the second half.

The gesture was spotted by Jamie Redknapp, who said on Sky Sports: "They need to get the ball up to the front men because a bit more has got to happen for this man – he needs that cuddle – for something to come off his backside or something like that."

But Klopp's attempts to rally the striker – something that seemed to work effortlessly last season – fell short.

Late in the second half Klopp tried one final roll of the dice and replaced Salah with Oxlade-Chamberlain.

On paper the move appeared a controversial one, but Liverpool's lack of attacking intent meant Klopp was well within his right to try something different.

The decision was met with confusion from Liverpool fans on social media, with Salah's agent pouring fuel on the fire by tweeting a cryptic full stop.

Former Liverpool star Jermaine Pennant later reacted to the substitute, saying he also found it concerning.

Pennant told Stadium Astro: "I'm concerned that you’re bringing him off. You don't bring off a player of that stature. Not because he's bigger than the club, but because what he can do on the pitch. He can produce magic, we've seen that every season that he's played for Liverpool.

"He can be quiet for 80 minutes and bring out one piece of magic when they need it. In a game like this, you should always have Salah on the pitch.

"Bringing on Jota, great substitution. If they would have had Firmino, Jota, Mane and Salah on the pitch, they would have put Chelsea on the back foot even more. Taking him off, I was baffled. You should always keep Salah on the pitch. You can't bite your nose to spite your face.

"Taking him off was silly. If he was on the pitch, who knows what would have happened? I think Klopp needs to be more reasonable than that, I think it was a silly decision."

Klopp has never had his decisions questioned quite like this before, but it is interesting that the German acknowledged that this is par for the course before Liverpool's latest defeat.

In an interview with Sky Sports ahead of the Chelsea match, Klopp said: "The problem is that football is all about results and if these little things that are better than before do not lead to better result then people do not want to hear about them.

"If we are winning 15 or 20 games in a row, people listen to me and say, 'Oh my god, what kind of genius stuff is he saying.' When we are not winning games, I can say exactly the same things and people will say, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah, just make sure you win the game.'

"I know that, it is absolutely no problem. I am responsible for this, not only now but for the next few years as well. That is why we will not let this time pass without getting a little bit of a benefit out of it. We cannot prove that now because we are still in the situation.

"We will have to prove it a little bit later."

Klopp will definitely get the time to prove himself, but it's whether he grows tired of being under this new spotlight when he reevaluates things at the end of the season.

Reports that Klopp could cut short his Liverpool contract and take over at Germany haven't gone away, and although it seems unlikely, the idea will remain present for as long as Liverpool's funk continues.

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