Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists attitude is not the problem for his side that has failed this season.
Six Premier League defeats are four more than they suffered in the whole of last season but, while their hold on the Carabao Cup is over, their FA Cup defense continues in Brighton on Sunday.
The team who returned to the scene of what Klopp described as the worst performance of his coaching career just two weeks ago are offering players a chance to show they have learned from that and can build on the back of two consecutive clean sheets .
“If (the problem) was attitude it would be really easy, so it’s not like they played badly on purpose,” he said.
“It never happened. That’s why I can’t sit here and say, “I told them everything, they can’t do this.”
“Attitude is not a problem. It is the understanding of necessity.
“For example, one player would check his running stats after the game and say he ran exactly the same. But defending in the first place is an input.
“The Brighton match was helpful in making everyone 100,000% aware of this fact. That was the low point, like, “OK, that’s not allowed.”
“It’s hard work to get there again. If it had been easy, everyone could have done it.
“I’ve really seen some real steps in the right direction and that’s important and must be my first concern when I think about the starting lineup.”
It has all but been forgotten amid their recent travails and struggles to get past Wolves that Liverpool are FA Cup holders, after beating Chelsea at Wembley last May.
Not that Klopp believes he has any influence.
“Being cup holders, I don’t think it’s (a) huge advantage in the competition. We start completely new,” she added.
“We know how good the event is if you make it to the finals, so it’s handy if you want.”
One of the positive aspects of the last two games has been the performance of 18-year-old Stefan Bajcetic.
The teenager started back-to-back games alongside Thiago Alcantara and Naby Keita and signed a new contract until 2027 this week.
“We were quite careful with him, due to his age. He’s shown now that he’s ready and it’s very useful for us, with all his natural talents,” said Klopp.
“It’s something we haven’t shown often enough in recent games; aggression, but good aggression – it’s not kicking players.
“Plus he’s a good footballer, so he’s obviously very important in the center of the park.”