Jamie Redknapp says “fragile” Liverpool are playing with “extremely low confidence” but reckons they can still make the top four.
Jurgen Klopp’s side toiled at Selhurst Park, just days after being humbled by Real Madrid at Anfield in the Champions League, although moved up to seventh following a 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace which leaves them six points off fourth-placed Tottenham, who host Chelsea on Sunday, live on Sky Sports.
Liverpool saw Mo Salah hit the crossbar and Cody Gakpo miss a gilt-edged chance but ultimately couldn’t find a way past out-of-form Palace, who have their own problems in attack, summing up where the club currently find themselves according to Sky Sports pundit Redknapp.
“I’m pleased Wilf Zaha didn’t play today, honestly. The way Liverpool defended, someone like him could have unlocked the door,” said Redknapp.
“I think, with Liverpool right now, that’s the performance I expected from them. They’re fragile, their confidence is extremely low, they’re not playing with any freedom.
“The clean sheet is obviously a plus, because when you concede five in midweek you obviously have to dig in. But it’s tough times at the moment.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a point gained because teams around them like Spurs will think that’s a good result for them, but right now it’s just about slowly building their confidence back again.
“Liverpool had the odd chance here and there but they didn’t really do enough. And right now that’s just where they’re at. In the summer there has to be changes but you can’t worry about that.”
Redknapp believes Liverpool’s next two games, both at home to Wolves on Wednesday and rivals Manchester United four days later, are pivotal for their top-four hopes.
“Liverpool’s season is almost going to ride on these next two games,” he said. “When you identify games as a Liverpool player, they are the ones that can determine a season, especially when you’re in a situation where you’re a little bit fragile.
“Everything can turn if they win on March 5 (vs Man Utd) and win in midweek. All of a sudden, the top four becomes a realistic ambition, which I still think they can do.
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“They’ve got to win these next two home games. They’ve got to find that belief and confidence at home, because a little bit will have been knocked away with that [Real Madrid] performance. But they are games that I really believe will make all the difference.
“You can’t get into the situation where you’ve played every single game last year, you’ve got to the cup finals you got to, and all of a sudden become a bad side. They are damaged, the confidence is low, but I still think they are capable of getting top four with that squad.”
It is clear Liverpool need to rebuild in the summer with Jude Bellingham a key target and even if the club fails in their top-four pursuit, Redknapp thinks the best players will still want to come to Anfield.
“They will still get the best, even if they don’t get top four,” added Redknapp. “Manchester United have never had that problem, buying the big players [when they’re struggling].
“I think the owners will spend. I think they know what they need to do. I think if Jurgen Klopp didn’t believe that, he wouldn’t stay there either. I think they will, whether it’s these owners or investors.
“They get a lot of stick, these owners, but they’ve backed the manager as well and he knows that. He’s never once complained about the players they’ve bought. What you might say is, have they bought players they really need? Did they really need Cody Gakpo right now?’
“But players will always want to go there. They will still be able to get the best. Jude Bellingham will look at Liverpool and look at Klopp as a viable option because of what he will bring and how much he can improve.
“It’s not going to be easy sign him because every club wants him, but that’s the sort of player you’ve got to be looking for if you want to improve and start challenging again.
“As low as it’s been for Liverpool at times, you’re never that far away. You’re only one or two players away. Look at what Manchester United have done all of a sudden with Ten Hag. He’s brought in a couple of players, there’s a bit of belief again, and all of a sudden they’re flying high.
“With Liverpool, Fabinho is only 29 but he looks like he’s gone over the edge. Maybe they need to find a young defensive midfield player to fill that void. But I still feel they will get in the top four, and that next year they will be challenging again.”