The watching media were at a loss after Liverpool’s hapless 4-1 Champions League defeat to Napoli, with so many negatives on show.
Jurgen Klopp’s men were humiliated in Italy on Wednesday evening, as their worrying start to the season had its lowest point yet.
Liverpool were 3-0 down at half-time and only had more of the ball after the break because Napoli allowed them to, with so many individuals poor all night.
Here’s how the media reacted to the Reds’ woeful defeat.
This was a truly shocking night for Liverpool…
Richard Jolly of the Independent bemoaned a terrible evening for Klopp’s men:
“In the broader picture, Liverpool have twice lost in Naples before and qualified from Champions League groups but they scarcely resembled the side who almost completed a clean sweep of trophies last season.
“They were ramshackle and ragged. Four goals could have been seven. Not because of the number of chances as their clarity. There was a shot that hit the woodwork, a missed penalty and a goal-line clearance.
“Liverpool are rarely opened up as often, as easily; at times, as embarrassingly. Whether Virgil van Dijk or Joe Gomez, James Milner or Trent Alexander-Arnold, this was a terrible night for players who have produced far better time and again. “
Andy Hunter of the Guardian was shocked at how bad Liverpool were:
“A rupture occurred in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. It was Liverpool, ripped apart and destroyed by Napoli on a humiliating night when Jurgen Klopp’s team resembled Champions League novices rather than seasoned finalists from three of the past five years.
“One of Liverpool’s heaviest European defeats was the deserved end product of arguably the worst European performance of Klopp’s near seven-year reign.
“Certainly, it is hard to think of a rival for that unwanted accolade. The visitors were torn open from the outset as their winless streak in Naples continued, but in far more alarming fashion than their last two group stage defeats here under Klopp.
“Klopp stated before kick-off that he wanted Liverpool to extinguish the emotion and aggression that Napoli feed off inside their stadium through football principles and compact defending. His players never got the memo.
“They poured oil on the incendiary atmosphere inside Stadio Diego Armando Maradona instead with a passive, chaotic performance in which their defence was shredded time and again.”
Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher took to Twitter to criticise the continued use of the high line:
Liverpool cannot continue with this high line & playing offside while the intensity of the team, especially in midfield is non existent. You have to adapt. It’s been evident all season. Analysis on @CBSSportsGolazo incoming! #NAPLIV #ChampionsLeague
— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) September 7, 2022
The Daily Mail‘s Dominic King was another who was scathing of the Reds’ efforts:
“This, frankly, was an embarrassment, a display so wretched and disjointed that it made it easy to label this the worst European performance of the Klopp era.
“All credit to Napoli, who were young and aggressive and dynamic, for inflicting this damage but Liverpool certainly assisted them.
“Three goals down at half-time – an Alisson Becker penalty save stopped the scoreline being even more emphatic – it was scarcely believable that it was only 103 days since Liverpool were going head-to-head with Madrid, looking to conquer Europe for a seventh time.”
Some individuals were unacceptably poor…
Goal’s Neil Jones focused on a nightmare showing from Joe Gomez:
“Gomez’s return to the heart of Liverpool’s defence has generally gone well this season, but he was absolutely terrorised here.
“Where do you even start? The woeful attempt to play offside which allowed Osimhen to hit the post inside a minute? The dallying on the ball which would have led to a goal had it not been for Van Dijk’s goalline clearance soon after?
“The complete inability to deal with Khvaratskhelia in the box for Napoli’s third goal?
“It was painful to watch, Gomez sluggish, nervous and unable to get a grip of his game as Napoli went after him. He wasn’t alone, by any means, but wow he was exposed here. His substitution at half-time felt like an act of mercy.”
This Is Anfield’s Mark Delgado didn’t hold back on Klopp:
“It’s high time the manager, who is rightly held in greater regard than any other since Kenny Dalglish’s first spell at the club, came out to speak honestly.
“Not the getting irate Klopp when his team is questioned, not the sidestepping Klopp who protects his team by avoiding the obvious.
“Answers, hard truths, are needed at this point: exactly what’s going on with the Reds’ energy and power levels? Where has the pressing, the famous intensity, gone?
“There will be at least an element of understanding, or at the minimum the benefit of the doubt for him, if he says something the supporters don’t like or didn’t expect.
“But pretending things are more or less there when we can blatantly see Liverpool are a million miles away from the required form and standards isn’t fooling anybody at all and will only make the situation worse game by game.”
And Dan Marsh of the Mirror felt James Milner was a weak-link once again:
“James Milner was tasked with leading Liverpool’s midfield in Naples in the wake of a host of selection issues. But unfortunately, the versatile veteran, who has been the hallmark of consistency during his career, was massively off the pace.
“The 36-year-old made the worst possible start by giving away a penalty after just five minutes, and he was in the book just minutes later after making an ill-timed challenge. He could have even seen red shortly after and was fortunate to make it to the hour mark before he was finally hauled off.
“Liverpool have a wretched record away at Napoli and badly needed their experienced players to step up after an underwhelming start to the season – but Milner did the complete opposite.”
Is this now a genuine crisis for the Reds?
The Independent‘s Karl Matchett feels there is a long road ahead for this Reds team:
“There’s an awfully long road ahead for the team to get back the kind of fear and aura about them which defined it heading into matches only half a season ago, and that’s just on a one-off basis – it takes a lot longer to rediscover consistency.
“This hammering must serve as a wake-up call for Liverpool: of the performance level which is required if trophies are still the objective, of the performance style their rivals are going to bring against them more and more often – and of the performance type which they themselves were renowned for and have been utterly missing this season.”
King doesn’t see Liverpool having a Champions League final to look forward to next May:
“You would hope those Liverpool fans who followed Jurgen Klopp’s advice in May, to “book your hotels” in Istanbul for the 2023 Champions League final, secured refundable rates.
“In the moments after the defeat to Real Madrid in Paris, an emotional Klopp pledged to oversee Liverpool’s return to the biggest club game in the world within 12 months and urged despondent supporters to follow his dream.
“On this evidence, Liverpool will be lucky to make the knockout stages in 2023. The tournament that has often been a wonderful and happy diversion from domestic matters could not have started in a worse possible fashion for Klopp and his players here in Naples.”
Finally, Paul Gorst of the Liverpool Echo believes the Reds are now in crisis mode:
“The football handbook isn’t exactly clear on when a blip becomes a full-blown crisis. But Liverpool surely veered into that territory at some point during a wretched 90 minutes at Napoli.
“Wherever your own judgement call lands, there can be little denial now that Liverpool’s early season spluttering has evolved into something entirely more serious.
“This is now the most concerning period since early 2021 when they lost six home games on the bounce behind closed doors and a top-four finish looked like a pipe dream.
“This just doesn’t happen to Liverpool. They lost only four of 63 games last term and one of those was ultimately meaningless as they eased past Inter on aggregate in the Champions League. That, though, is consigned to the past. In the here and now, the Reds are as ripe for a hiding as they have ever been under their current manager.”