Jurgen Klopp admits Liverpool need to “reinvent themselves” after Napoli punished a flawed display and inflicted a 4-1 defeat that compounded their poor start to the Premier League campaign.
Having won just two of their first six Premier League games, the Reds kicked off their Champions League match in southern Italy just 102 days after their final defeat against Real Madrid last season.
Napoli’s away game has always seemed the toughest test in a group that also includes Ajax and Rangers, but few could have foreseen the show strewn with mistakes that would take place at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.
Piotr Zielinski, Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa and substitute Giovanni Simeone scored in the first half that Liverpool were lucky enough to score just three goals behind.
Victor Osimhen had seen a penalty saved in the first half just before Virgil van Dijk denied Khvicha Kvaratskelia on the line, with Zielinski scoring early in the second half on a night when Luis Diaz scored a consolation.
“You don’t think much after the game, you react more,” Liverpool boss Klopp said.
“We have to reinvent ourselves because the basic things were not there. It is a difficult period, there is no doubt about that.
“If you’re not playing exceptionally well, you can still defend at a really high level. We should be able to do this.
“Starting the game doesn’t help. If we want to defend ourselves better and concede a penalty after three minutes and the next, obviously you can’t do it exactly. We got caught in the middle tonight.
“But, anyway, it’s the work to do. This is what I mean. It’s not like we have to reinvent a new kind of football.
“You are always trying to improve, but right now everyone would obviously be happy if we could play things similar to what we played before.
“Tonight was the least compact performance I’ve seen in a long, long time from us … and other teams as well.
“Napoli were really good but we made it easy for them because we lost the ball in the box and then the next situation was a counterattack. No, that’s not how it should be.
“Some things are really clear, we need to change them, and why it is now is becoming a little clearer as well.
“But I need time to say the right things because it’s not 100 percent clear at the moment.”
Klopp turned to traveling Liverpool fans to apologize after a “very disappointing night” in Naples.
The Reds are hoping their stuttering start to the season hit rock bottom with a defeat that even led to the question of whether he was worried about his future given Chelsea’s dismissal of Thomas Tuchel earlier in the day.
“Not really, but who knows,” Klopp said after opening Group A. “The difference of course (is) that they are different types of owners.
“Our owners are quite calm and expect me to fix the situation and don’t think anyone else should fix it.
“That’s how they’ve always seen it and the day they change their minds, they might tell me.”
As injured Liverpool return home and focus again on Saturday’s home game against Wolves, Napoli fans will be celebrating late into the night, even if their manager is keeping his feet on the ground.
“I think we have to be clear,” said Luciano Spalletti. Yes, we are very happy, I enjoyed watching this performance first of all because Napoli had a great performance against an important team like Liverpool.
“But I think we must be clear: we must not be distracted by other situations.
“Above all, you realize how happy you are to send the fans home after a match like this. I am very happy to see the smile on the faces of the fans, but we have to start again. “