Trent Alexander-Arnold ‘needs more help and guidance’ from Liverpool coaches, Mohamed Salah ‘needs a kick’ and Virgil van Dijk ‘complacent’, says Danny Murphy, who insists Reds DON’T need a reset September 13, 2022 – Posted in: Soccer
Plenty have had their say on why Liverpool have made a bad start to the season but Danny Murphy believes it’s a culmination of many things.
The Reds go into their clash against Ajax on Tuesday night looking to get their Champions League campaign back on track having fallen to an embarrassing 4-1 defeat at Napoli in their first group match.
They’ve also struggled in the Premier League and are already six points off the top – a far cry from the side that was going for the quadruple in May.
Murphy suggested complacency is one reason behind Liverpool’s woes this term as he accused star defender Virgil van Dijk of being particularly guilty of it.
“We’ve got to be careful to not go too overboard on this but my feeling is there’s an air of complacency among some of the players,” Murphy said on Kick Off.
“They’ve fallen into what some managers call a ‘comfort zone’. Of course they go out with good intentions but when you know you’re going to play nearly every game… I think that can cause complacency at times.”
On Van Dijk, Murphy said: “When I talk about complacency I aim it at him a lot, as well as Trent Alexander-Arnold and some of the other lads are but I think he’s guilty of it.
“There’s a little bit of lethargy about his play, like he’s playing in third gear.
“He looks like he’s playing protecting an injury. I don’t think he is but that’s the way it looks.”
Jurgen Klopp spoke of some ‘hard truths’ being exchanged following the defeat in Naples and Murphy believes star forward Mohamed Salah is one of those players who needs to be given one or two of those truths.
On Salah, Murphy said: “Salah’s another one, Salah needs a kick.
“It’s nothing to do with the contract he signed but sometimes you need it. When you’ve scored that many goals and do what he’s done sometimes you just need upstairs to say ‘come on.’
“If it means digging someone out in front of the rest of the lads, I’ve seen it before, the best midfielder Liverpool have ever had in history [Steven Gerrard]. I remember seeing at half time in a Champions League game being told to get a shower. Nobody saw that coming!”
The form of Alexander-Arnold is also an alarming cause for concern, and while Murphy believes the right-back is also guilty of complacency there are a few other factors at play behind his recent downturn.
Murphy said: “I think it’s a mixture of a little bit of complacency, a couple of problems in midfield and not having your best three fit and Fabinho not being at his best and putting Henderson in there means Trent becomes isolated.
“Trent’s generally got Jordan Henderson covering him on the right of a three and helping him out when he gets forward.
“Harvey Elliott, who’s been superb, likes to get forward and makes things happen but the problem is when he’s on the right of a three and Trent’s forward, that left side can become really vulnerable for Liverpool. We’ve seen it in numerous games.”
On Alexander-Arnold’s woes, Murphy added: “I think there’s a few things.
“I think physically he’s not doing the same things that he did when he was doing better in terms of his running back and defensive mindset, ie, desire to get back in. That’s the complacency I’m talking about.
“He just needs a little reminder, a little kick up the backside from the manager as maybe a few of the others do, and I’m sure he’s done that this weekend after that Napoli performance.
“The other thing is he’s got those other players you’re talking about, who are normally so reliable, so when he’s playing right-back in a very successful Liverpool team you’ve got Joel Matip and Ibrahima Konate for the majority of last season playing well to cover him and Jordan Henderson covering him when he goes forward.
“I also think that the coaches aren’t helping him by not giving him more guidance on choosing his moments to go forward sometimes.
“You don’t want to stop what he does going forward, he is the best attacking full-back in the world bar none. But if you’re playing full-back in a back four there are times in a game where you have to forget about going forward and play your role.
“I think sometimes he needs a bit of help on the touchline as to when that might be.”
However, Murphy doesn’t believe such drastic action is needed at this stage.
He said: “Does it need a complete reset? No, of course it doesn’t.
“This team was two games away from winning the quadruple. The only difference between the squad this season is three months of players who are supposedly past it, which is nonsense, and Sadio Mane’s gone.”