By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Dietmar Hamann has claimed that people have been getting carried away by Liverpool’s revival under Jurgen Klopp.
Memorable away-day wins at Chelsea, Manchester City and Southampton had prompted feverish talk that the Merseysiders were potential title contenders.
But Anfield legend Hamann believes Liverpool’s 2-0 Premier League defeat at struggling Newcastle on Sunday afternoon laid bare some of the team’s inadequacies.
Asked by Sky Sports afterwards whether the Merseysiders’ pre-match tag as possible contenders was a realistic one, Hamann said: “It also has got to do with the lack of form of the other title contenders – United don’t play well, City losing yesterday, Chelsea being near the bottom of the table.
“But, yes, people are getting carried away. They have had some good results. [But] the reason I felt they would struggle today was because they would have to play like the home team.
“They have had quite a few iffy games – against Southampton at home, Swansea, Rubin Kazan – where they came out on top but didn’t play well. Jurgen Klopp said earlier in the week that, ‘we have to be better in possession’ and they showed today where they lack.”
Hamann believes Liverpool look a different proposition without Philippe Coutinho, absent for a fourth game with a hamstring injury, and Daniel Sturridge, who only played the last half-hour against Newcastle.
“They struggled for chances and to find the way past the Newcastle defence and, for the most part, they looked very ordinary.
“They need to get these players fit. But, regardless, they have to improve their retention of the ball because they were uncomposed. They lost so many easy balls.”
The setback at St James’ Park was the Merseysiders’ second defeat in 12 matches under Klopp and leaves them seventh in the Premier League table, nine points behind shock leaders Leicester.
A Martin Skrtel own goal after 69 minutes had given Steve McLaren’s team the advantage before the man-of-the-match Georginio Wijnauldum sealed the points when he finished off a counter-attack in added time.