Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp accepts Mohamed Salah is suffering from being in an unsettled forward line and is having to learn a different way of playing.
The Egypt international has scored 17 goals this season but his seven in 19 Premier League appearances is well down on his previous numbers at this stage of a campaign.
In his last three matches, the make-up of the front three has been different in each and what could be considered Klopp’s preferred starting trio of Salah, Darwin Nunez and Luis Diaz have been on the pitch for just 343 minutes together this season.
He will likely start in the FA Cup fourth-round tie at Brighton alongside Nunez and Cody Gakpo, one player who arrived in the summer and the other who is just over five hours’ playing time into his Liverpool career having joined from PSV Eindhoven at the start of the month.
“Oh yes, of course he is suffering. It was a well-drilled machine, the front three, everything was clear what we were doing,” said Klopp.
“Everybody suffers from that. That’s clear. It is specific, offensive play that requires a lot of work and a lot of information, and not always obvious information.
“You create a feeling about a lot of these things, about where your team-mate is and where to pass the ball without looking.
“That is not cool but we cannot expect just to be back to our best and win 5-0 and go to the next game. We have to work hard.
“In two or three weeks a couple more options will be available and we can mix it up.
“Now we have Cody as a really important asset, like a connector, he can play the wing and the centre as well.
“When Darwin is playing there he is obviously more high up, going in behind. We never played with a nine before, even when Sadio [Mane] played in the position he was dropping in moments.
“That’s not Darwin’s game, he wants to have other balls at his feet and he is a real handful there.
“It is all good if they would all be in and we could build something, but we haven’t been able to do that yet.”
Salah’s form has mirrored that of Liverpool’s but the forward is far from the only person to blame.
With the forward line and midfield not gelling, it is leaving the defence over-exposed and that is a major cause of concern for Klopp.
But he has little chance to properly work on rectifying the issues and accepts it will take a period of time for things to knit together again.
“We start a new chapter and now we talk about Mo Salah,” added Klopp.
“If you had scored hundreds of goals in the past and now you are not scoring then that is the first thing you would think about but that is not our problem at the moment.
“But usually you have a real basis to build on and that is what we don’t have.
“The better and clearer you behave in your down moments the better will be the high moments afterwards.
“You have to be respectful, show the right things, criticise but not going mad. You have to go through it.
“There is no light at the end of the tunnel – there are finals and there are trophies at the end of the tunnel.
“The only problem is you need time and nobody wants to invest time.
“I wish everything would be easier again and that already we had qualified for finals at the end of the season.
“This situation is not perfect but the basis of the last two games is something I like.”