Jurgen Klopp looking for Liverpool reaction against Ajax after 'worst game' of his reign

Reds manager describes the 4-1 thrashing at Napoli as like watching a 'horror show'

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Jurgen Klopp has described his team's 4-1 Champions League defeat against Napoli in their Group A opener as “the worst game” of his Liverpool reign.

The German is looking for a reaction from his players when they take on Dutch side Ajax at Anfield on Tuesday as they look to get their European campaign up and running.

Last season's beaten finalists could not have started their new campaign in worse fashion as they found themselves 3-0 down at half-time in an opening 45 minutes that also saw goalkeeper Alisson Becker save a penalty.

“I watched the game back plenty of times and it was a real horror show to be honest. It was the worst game we played since I was here,” Klopp said of the heavy defeat in Italy.

“Eight out of 11 were below their level and the three others were not on a top level, just a normal game.

“I have to do something, I can’t sit there and wait for how we react. Is this the situation I wanted? No. But now you are in it you find it interesting and challenging.

“[We had a] general meeting, showing these situations and they are too obvious. It was not needed to say a lot about it but I did anyway.

“Did I question the players? Generally, no. In this situation, yes. ‘Why would you do that? Why would we do that?’

“When James Milner arrives too late in a challenge and we lose challenges where we would usually win them, you know something is wrong.

“There are four or five days now of absolute truth. We didn’t hide anything, we didn’t hold back anything, there was no need for that.

“We just said it how it is, but not to knock the players down or whatever, just to make sure where we are now is the starting point for us and we make sure we sort the problems together on the pitch.

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“There was no pointing at each other, that was the good thing about the game pretty much.”

There are no signs that the injury problems that have blighted their start to the season are coming to an end, with Scottish full-back Andy Robertson ruled out until after the international break this month with a knee problem. Curtis Jones is also unavailable.

Klopp also said he does not expect Naby Keita to go on international duty while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is no closer to a return. “The expected return date is somewhere in October,” Klopp said. “With Ox it's the same. That's why the two boys are not in the Champions League squad.”

Klopp believes part of the problem in Naples may have been the players were trying to overcorrect a disappointing start to the season, which has seen them win just two of their opening six league matches.

However, he has told them he does not want individuals heading off on hero missions as it has to be a collective effort.

“We had obvious football problems, defending and attacking, but what led to this problem was a misjudgement of the situation,” he said.

“I know the players want to sort the situation: we are not over the moon about our season so far.

“In this game it looked like everyone wanted to sort the problem but by themselves and that didn’t give us the structure to work together.”

Updated: September 12, 2022, 3:04 PM
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