Ferdinand questions whether Liverpool's style of play has led to slump

Rio Ferdinand questions whether Liverpool’s ‘heavy metal’ brand of football has been a factor behind club’s slump after Champions League exit to Real Madrid – as Michael Owen says it is ‘inexcusable’ not to see relentless work rate in every game

  • Liverpool’s Champions League dreams were ended by their exit to Real Madrid 
  • Jurgen Klopp’s team improved at Anfield but were unable to find the two goals 
  • Rio Ferdinand questioned post-match whether their style of play has backfired
  • But Michael Owen said Liverpool’s success has stemmed from their work rate

Rio Ferdinand has questioned whether Liverpool’s notorious ‘heavy metal’ brand of football has contributed to the club’s remarkable collapse this season.

Jurgen Klopp’s team were eliminated from the Champions League at the hands of Real Madrid despite delivering a much-improved showing in the second leg.

The setback has left Liverpool solely embroiled in a dogfight to clinch a top four spot – and Ferdinand has now attempted to delve deeper into the cause of the slump.

Rio Ferdinand questioned whether Liverpool’s high-tempo style of play has caused their slump

Speaking on BT Sport, Ferdinand (above) pointed to the relentless football under Jurgen Klopp

‘We asked the question before the game,’ Ferdinand said on BT Sport. ‘Is it because of the heavy metal brand of football Liverpool have been playing under Klopp?

‘He’s been here four years, five years… so is it sustainable, playing at that level? Is it the pandemic? Is it the injuries to key players?’  

Despite the exit, Liverpool visibly returned to form at Anfield and pressed their LaLiga opponents in typical fashion in an attempt to spark a miraculous comeback. 

Mohamed Salah missed a good chance as Liverpool were knocked out the Champions League

The performance led Michael Owen, also on BT Sport, to insist the Merseyside outfit’s formidable energy has been key to their glory since Klopp took charge.

‘I think the most common words we used in the build-up to this game were intensity and energy,’ Owen said. ‘We want to see that from Liverpool. 

‘That’s what Liverpool have based their success on, certainly under Jurgen Klopp. It’s almost inexcusable when you don’t see that. 

‘You can get over injuries, you can get over a lot of things, lack of form. 

Michael Owen (right) insisted that it is ‘inexcusable’ for teams not to perform with high energy

‘But if you don’t see that thing that makes everything tick, that spark to start with… and it’s so simple.’ 

Liverpool burst out of the blocks in the second leg but were unable to take an early, and potentially pivotal, lead after squandering several fine openings.

Mohamed Salah was guilty of rifling straight at Thibaut Courtois from close range and his team-mates were similarly wasteful.

Owen, however, has indicated that the spring in the step rediscovered by his former club remains the way to go in the future.

Liverpool improved in the second leg against Real Madrid and pressed their opponents hard

He added: ‘It’s something that Spanish teams don’t like; they’re not used to it.

‘And that’s our strength, it’s been our strength for years. And now we’ve got quality as well to go along with that. 

‘So our high tempo, high press, high energy game is absolutely what Liverpool need to continue to do.’

The defeat was another disappointing chapter in a surprisingly below-par campaign for the soon-to-be dethroned Premier League champions. 

With just a top four spot to play for now, Liverpool’s campaign relies on their next seven games

It will prove an uphill struggle for them to ensure a spot at the top table next year, too, with Liverpool three points adrift of fourth-placed West Ham. 

And with just seven games left to go, Ferdinand has admitted the odds may be stacked against the top-flight giants.

‘They’ve put themselves in a position where they’re in the chasing pack now,’ he said. ‘Chelsea are getting stronger. Leicester are potentially a team they can catch. 

‘It’s going to be tough. This place, they’ve been used to it in the last couple of years, Champions League football. They’ve thrived under the spotlight here. 

Ferdinand says it will be ‘tough’ for Liverpool to secure a Champions League spot for next year

‘I think it’s a tough ask getting back in the Champions League this year.’ 

Owen, meanwhile, is adamant that Liverpool’s squad doesn’t require major surgery during this summer’s transfer market.

He said: ‘They’re going to welcome back with open arms a couple of big, big players for them.

‘Once they’re fit, I don’t really look at the squad and think it needs a big overhaul.’ 

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