Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes his side have been sucked into a whirlwind which has continually held them back and dragged them down this season.
Hopes of finishing in the top four are fading fast after losing to Manchester City and only drawing at Chelsea in the space of four days, leaving the club 10 points adrift of Champions League qualification with Premier League leaders Arsenal to visit on Sunday.
They have lost nine times in 28 matches – the joint-most of any of Klopp’s seasons at the club, discounting his first when he arrived in October and oversaw eight of their 10 losses in that campaign.
Klopp has argued the previous, unprecedented 63-game quadruple-chasing season and critical injuries at pivotal times have helped derail their progress and create a perfect storm.
“It is one of these moments where it is really not good – I am not native so I can’t explain it better in English,” he said.
“You get in this whirlwind and it sucks you in that direction and all of a sudden it’s like ‘Wow, where are we?’.
“(But) I am not a worse manager than last year, definitely not. It doesn’t mean the outcome is good enough, not at all. But I’m not worse.
“And the players are not worse players. They just play worse. That’s definitely the case.”
Klopp has been criticised for not refreshing an ageing squad, particularly in midfield, and while that will be addressed in the summer with a significant spend likely, he argues there was not the possibility to make widespread changes.
It was pointed out to him that Sunday’s opponents endured similar trouble last year, although their starting point was much lower than Liverpool’s, but with clever recruitment, Mikel Arteta has produced a potentially title-winning squad and that could offer hope to Klopp come the start of next season.
“Yeah, the difference is whatever we do next year will never be enough from people’s point of view and your (the media’s) point of view,” he added.
“But yes, with smart recruitment we will improve – definitely. That is the plan.
“We cannot make 24 changes and say ‘Here we go’ – not even 10 – but it is just that we have to make changes – smart changes – and then we go again.
“We have other moments when we think about what happens next year but this is not the moment.”