While Jamie Carragher delivered a damning verdict, Jürgen Klopp made taunting hints after Liverpool’s setback at Brentford. The pressure is growing – also financially.

He praised the opposing coach, named his team’s mistakes, and didn’t gloss over anything. But Jürgen Klopp did not leave it at that after Liverpool’s 3-1 defeat at Brentford FC. The man who would never claim to be a good loser hinted at a few other reasons for his side’s disconcerting setback.

For example, the final goal, which was preceded by Bryan Mbeumo’s rustic challenge on Ibrahima Konaté, should never have counted. “It’s a full sprint by two players and if you get pushed there, you lose your balance and go down,” Klopp lamented. “But Stuart Attwell saw it differently and the VAR who checked it can hide behind the phrase ‘clear and obvious’ as usual.”

“That’s how they play against us, but against other opponents, they play football”.

He also said Brentford’s professionals had “stretched the rules” especially when it came to standards, repeatedly “pressing and holding”. “Don’t get me wrong, they are smart but they do it. If you look at every situation individually, you would find five fouls. But because it’s so chaotic, nobody sees it. They do it well,” Klopp judged with presumed appreciation, taunting, “That’s how they play against us, but against other opponents, they play football and that’s fantastic.”

And then all those long balls! “That limits them in some points, but that’s how they can cause chaos. They have organised that extremely well,” said Klopp, who has always favoured short-passing opponents because they are noticeably easier for his team to defeat.

But all that could not even distract Klopp himself from the fact that it was rather his Reds who had contributed to the chaos, especially defensively. Just before the break, a simple cross was enough for Brentford to make it 2-0. “The second goal decided the game and that is completely our fault,” Klopp admitted. “We just got away with an offside goal but then didn’t wake up. That was a gift for Brentford.”

Financial pressure mounts at a delicate stage

After two previous victories – not always commanding but all the more valuable – (3-1 at Aston Villa, 2-1 against Leicester), Liverpool’s chase towards the Champions League places has been stalled again for the time being. By tonight, the gap to fourth place could have grown to seven points. This puts Klopp’s bosses under double financial pressure in the middle of a phase in which they want to sell club shares: in the short term and the long term.

In the short term, further reinforcements after Coady Gakpo seem to become more urgent in this winter transfer window; in the long term, it would significantly restrict the budget of the serious Reds if they were to miss out on the top flight for the first time since Klopp’s first season seven years ago.

TV pundit and club legend Jamie Carragher said on Monday night that he saw “no chance” of a top-four finish if Liverpool did not strengthen their squad in January, and he delivered a harsh verdict: “As soon as the intensity of a game goes up, they can’t compete. Liverpool has had a problem against physical teams all season. And let’s not forget: We’re talking about a team that proudly says of itself, ‘Intensity is our identity’.”

Carragher instead sees “an ageing team facing the end”, he said. “From the first minute of the Jürgen Klopp era, they sprinted like crazy, regardless of the quality of the players. I don’t see that anymore. This is not a Jürgen Klopp team.”

It is obvious that Liverpool is once again suffering from constant and changing injury-related absences – but regardless of this, a permanent fixture has been missing for months, especially in midfield. It is also clear, however, that this team has not only once proved capable of great comebacks. “We can only change our position by winning games, today it was the opposite,” Klopp said. “We can’t take anything positive from this or take confidence out of it.”

Especially as, quite incidentally, the competition didn’t get any smaller on Monday. Right behind Liverpool, Brentford is seventh for the time being, only two points behind.