The media criticised Liverpool’s mentality after the 1-1 draw against Newcastle and felt this performance perfectly summed up a dire week at Anfield.
The Reds’ top-four hopes suffered a big setback as Newcastle grabbed a late equaliser to hold Jurgen Klopp’s men to a hugely frustrating draw.
In a game typical of this season, Liverpool paid the price for failing to take their chances before conceding the inevitable soft goal, and it was a huge opportunity missed to move into a strong position.
Klopp and his players only have themselves to blame and it could be said that the Reds don’t deserve Champions League football next season with such performances in recent key games.
Here’s how the media assessed the result.
Journalists were in disbelief at Liverpool’s “self-destruction” and how weak the Reds are mentally…
The Liverpool Echo’s Ian Doyle labelled the performance “bewildering” and felt the Reds’ “self-destruction” means they can have no complaints if they now miss out on a top-four spot:
“How else to explain this latest bewildering performance from the Reds that has landed a potentially decisive blow on their hopes of a top-four finish?
“And the self-destruction during injury-time underlined why the Reds can have few complaints if they miss out on a return to Europe’s top table.”
Paul Gorst, also of the Echo, noted how the Reds played with increasing fear as the game progressed, a stark contrast to the assured manner in which they used to see out games:
“Incomprehensibly, the hosts became wracked with fear and allowed their visitors back into it by retreating deeper and deeper.
“This was not the performance of a confident team with conviction in their ability to take full points.”
Neil Jones, writing for Goal, focussed on how Liverpool’s mentality has changed so drastically, with there “almost an acceptance” among the players that something will go wrong:
“There is almost an acceptance now that if something can go wrong, there’s every chance it will.
“They look exhausted, worn down by the pressure and the misfortune and the spotlight.”
The Mirror’s Alex Milne found it hard to comprehend how bad Liverpool’s finishing actually was:
“Liverpool’s profligacy up front is baffling given how clinical they were last season, and there is no good reason why they continue to squander such clear opportunities, with Klopp’s side having 22 shots but making just one of them count.”
BBC Sport’s Tom Rostance rued how Liverpool’s “intensity and drive” faded at a time they needed a strong end to the game:
“As the game wore on Liverpool’s intensity and drive faded, an all-too-familiar sight in recent months.”
ESPN’s Adam Brown put the blame at the feet of the players, assessing there was “not much more Klopp could have done”:
“Klopp’s team selection was aggressive and the German manager was unlucky not to see more dividends paid as the Reds frequently worked the ball into dangerous areas.
“The James Milner substitution was timed well, with more control required at that point in the match, and it helped limit Newcastle‘s counter-attacking ability. Not much more the manager could have done.”
The irony of Liverpool’s latest collapse in the aftermath of the Super League U-turn was not lost on the media…
The Telegraph’s Chris Bascombe wrote how this performance summed up the week at Anfield on and off the pitch, as Liverpool’s “judgement and wisdom deserted them”:
“Here was a symptom of Liverpool’s week – the last three months even – as their judgement and wisdom deserted them.”
The Guardian’s Andy Hunter poked fun at FSG and the Reds fell foul to the exact kind of situation the owners attempted to make redundant in the future:
“It is not hard to imagine the outrage this outcome generated in Boston, home of Liverpool’s owners Fenway Sports Group.
“Bloody Newcastle, a proud, historic, working class club full of pesky legacy fans, potentially costing Liverpool a place at Europe’s top table and all the millions that comes with it, and doing so on sporting merit? Down with this sort of thing.”
Bascombe followed that by focussing on the joy and despair football brings and how we can never have a competition or format where such moments are rendered meaningless:
“Imagine a grey world where such moments did not matter, Liverpool already assured of their annual trip to the Bernabeu and Nou Camp.
“Hard as it was for their players and staff to take, there was something gloriously reassuring about Liverpool’s rank amateurism in the final stages having a consequence.”
Reporters fear this damaging season could have lasting effects, with an attacking rebuild needed in the summer…
Bascombe thinks Klopp and his team could have trouble simply moving on from such a gruelling campaign from a psychological perspective:
“Klopp acknowledged they can’t say they deserve to finish any better than they are. Not after repeated, self-inflicted Anfield failures like this. Banishing the entire campaign from memory in five games time may be the challenge of the summer.”
Gorst explained how failure to qualify for the Champions League “could set Liverpool back years,” with only a spending spree from FSG able to prevent that happening:
“A failure to qualify for next season’s Champions League could set Liverpool back years.
“It would require a stunning departure from the Americans’ modus operandi to halt that happening in the summer’s transfer market – something which appears unlikely as the costs of pandemic football continue to rise.”
Milne believes a rebuild is needed at Anfield this coming summer, but says it is vital that the club retain the services of Mo Salah in that:
“There is no doubt Liverpool need a rebuild in the summer – but they will be desperately hoping Salah is involved in it as his future continues to be a source of endless speculation.”
Jones feels the key area for Liverpool to address in the transfer market is finding a goalscoring striker, with Roberto Firmino now needing replacing:
“Liverpool need to find a goalscoring centre-forward in the summer, both to compete with Firmino but, more pertinently, to replace him.
“The team has to move forward, and that means making some uncomfortable decisions about players who have delivered incredible success for the club.”
To end on a positive note, Brown commented on how well Firmino played in the new system:
“Roberto Firmino gave one of his best performances of the season, and in a formation that may have provided Klopp with a go-to system when playing against teams with a defensive setup.”