Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is usually all hugs and smiles – but is he now feeling the pressure of his side’s faltering title challenge in the Premier League?
The Reds were top and had a seven-point lead over champions Manchester City, who was second, going into their game on 3 January.
City won that match 2-1 and, fast forward two months, Liverpool have since fallen one point behind their rivals following four draws in eight league games.
Klopp’s side endured a frustrating goalless encounter against derby rivals Everton in their latest outing, and there were signs after the match that the strain might be telling on the German.
Following Sunday’s match at Goodison Park, Klopp did not look happy when he approached a ball boy who sarcastically clapped him as he headed down the tunnel.
Klopp walked away smiling after a brief exchange but was later irritated by a journalist’s question about his side’s approach against Everton during the post-match news conference.
“We don’t play Playstation,” said Klopp. “Do you think that we didn’t take enough risks today? Is that what you want to ask?
“That’s a really disappointing question, I have to say.
“There are nine games to go. We don’t lose our nerve like you, obviously. It’s the second time you ask a question I really don’t get.
“There’s not a moment where we say: ‘Come on now, throw everything in that direction’.
“You cannot play in the Premier League like that. We take all the risks but you cannot take more than 100% risk.
“I don’t think I have to give my players advice because they know it already. We are not little boys anymore.”
Liverpool top scorer Mohamed Salah, who has 17 league goals this season, missed two glorious chances against Everton and has netted just once in his past seven matches.
However, Klopp said the effects of Storm Freya, which brought strong winds across the UK on Sunday, played a part in his side’s lack of cutting edge in the derby.
“The wind does not help and there was a lot today. You have to be ready for the fight of the second ball,” said the Liverpool manager.
The impact of the weather is the second time in the past two months that Klopp has blamed it as a reason for his side’s struggles.
Liverpool had a chance to restore their seven-point lead over City when the Blues lost to Newcastle United at the end of January, and the Reds played Leicester City a day later.
But the Merseysiders could only manage a 1-1 draw at Anfield, having taken an early lead against the Foxes.
Afterward, Klopp said he believed snow on the pitch contributed to his side dropping two points.
“You saw that the ball didn’t roll really,” he said.
“If you then have the ball pretty much for 70-80% of the time it makes life really uncomfortable.
“The only problem is if it stays on the pitch and that was actually the case.”