Liverpool legend John Barnes reckons “technical” midfielders like Harvey Elliott and Fabio Carvalho are costing Jurgen Klopp’s side this season.
The young duo have played well in spells so far this season as Liverpool have produced a mix start to the new Premier League campaign.
Klopp’s outfit have nine points from a possible 18 so far after only dropping 22 points in the whole of the 2021-22 season.
Critics voices have grown louder in the past 24 hours after Liverpool lost 4-1 to Napoli in their first Champions League group stage match of the campaign.
And Barnes thinks the lack of grafters in the Liverpool “engine room” is costing Klopp with Elliott and Carvalho more technical than Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and James Milner.
Barnes told BonusCodeBets: “If you look at the way we play, and the midfield is our engine room. The midfield is why we play as well as we do. The midfield is why Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson can attack at the same time.
“Why do they do that? It’s because we have a hard working midfield.
“We normally have had a very strong defensive midfield lineup which then means our full-backs can attack and then the midfield supplements the full-backs attacking.
“Now we have a much more technical midfield in terms of Harvey Elliott and Carvalho, which means that the back four, who are a very good back four, but they’re not getting as much protection as they were in the past.”
Barnes added: “I think ultimately if you look at what we’ve done in the last two or three years, we’ve had three Fabinhos, three Jordan Hendersons, three James Milners.
“You don’t have to be the best technical players for Liverpool in midfield, you just have to work hard and defend well when everyone attacked. You’d get the attacking from the full backs and the front three.
“If you’re gonna attack with two full backs and the front three, you can’t just leave the back two to defend so you needed three hard-working midfielders.
“We’ve moved forward from that in terms of having creative midfield players and there’s a balance between the full-backs attacking and the midfield players defending to supplement that. This isn’t where we want to be at the moment.
“So, yeah we’re going through some teething problems but we’ll be fine.”
Giving his explanation for the poor performance in Napoli, especially first half, Klopp said: “You don’t think a lot after the game, you react more.
“We have to kind of reinvent ourselves because basic things were not there. It’s a difficult period, no doubt about that. If you’re not playing exceptionally well, you still can defend on a really high level. We should be able to do that.
“The start of the game doesn’t help. If we want to defend better and concede a penalty after three minutes and the next one, obviously you cannot exactly do that. Tonight we were caught in-between.
“But, still, it’s the job to do. That’s what I mean. It’s not that we have to reinvent a new kind of football. You always try to improve but in this moment obviously everybody would be happy if we could just play similar stuff to what we used to play.
“Tonight was the least compact performance I saw for a long, long time from us… and other teams as well. Napoli was really good but we made it easy for them because we lost the ball in areas and then the next situation was a counter-attack. No, that’s not how it should be.
“A few things are really clear, we have to change that, and the reason why it’s now like this is getting a bit more clearer as well. But I need time for just saying the right things because at the moment it’s not 100 per cent clear.”
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