Jürgen Klopp has admitted Mohamed Salah’s form has suffered this season because the Liverpool attack is not functioning like a “well-drilled machine”.
Salah remains Liverpool’s leading scorer with an impressive 17 goals, seven coming in the Premier League, although he has cut an isolated figure during the team’s downturn since the start of the year. Klopp believes that is inevitable given injury problems – Salah, Darwin Núñez and Luis Díaz have played only 343 minutes together – have compounded the disruption caused by Sadio Mané’s departure to Bayern Munich and the break-up of the team’s established forward line.
The Liverpool manager said: “Of course he is suffering. It was a well-drilled machine the front three; everything was clear what we were doing. Everyone suffers. 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 teammate is and where to pass the ball, no look or whatever. 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. No one wants to hear it but they have to do it.
“In two or three weeks we hope to have a couple more options and we can mix it up. Now we have Cody [Gakpo], a really important asset, 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 ‘9’ before – even when Sadio was there he was dropping in moments and that is 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 couldn’t do that.”
Salah, Mané and Roberto Firmino, who is injured, have scored 338 goals between them for Klopp but the manager insists the end of that forward line is not the root of their issues.
Klopp, whose side visit Brighton in the FA Cup on Sunday, said: “Mo has scored hundreds of goals in recent years and when you don’t score the first thing people think about is that, but that is not our problem at the moment. I am happy if he scores one and the next game someone else scores and we have a clean sheet. We started the season with Harvey [Elliott] in the half position, with Hendo [Jordan Henderson] it is different, and now it is Naby [Keïta]. Usually you have a real basis to build on and that is what we don’t have.
“We are 100% ready to work through that. There is no light at the end of the tunnel – there are finals and there are trophies at the end of the tunnel. It’s all there, not now. The only problem is you need time and nobody wants to invest time. This situation is not perfect but the basis of the last two games is something I like.”