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Paul Ince: Liverpool players and fans are starting to buckle under title pressure

Fabinho

Jurgen Klopp’s side sit three points clear of Manchester City at the top of the table after 25 rounds, but were held to draws in their last two league games against Leicester City and West Ham.

Former Red Ince, who also won two league titles with Manchester United between 1992 and 1994, is concerned that everyone at Liverpool is starting to strain under the expectation of landing their first championship for 29 years.

“Up until recently, the pressure surrounding who will win the Premier League has all been on Manchester City, and when they lost against Newcastle, everyone was convinced that Liverpool had won the title,” Ince told Paddy Power. 

“You can see that pressure has got to the team, the results against Leicester and West Ham show that. The players have been unable to separate that pressure from their football, as everyone around them speaks about how Liverpool are going to win the league. 

“As soon as they’ve started to hear the media and fans getting excited, it’s got to them. They knew they had to go to Leicester (note: the game was at Anfield) and get three points, and the enormity of that got to them.

“Against West Ham, the players looked like they’d got into their own heads as soon as the game began, the expectations are clearly weighing heavy on their shoulders at the minute. Especially when you consider that they really should’ve lost the game due to their clear offside goal.

“Every title-winning team goes through a rough patch, and this is Liverpool’s. How they respond to it will determine whether they can go on and win the league. This is the real test, now. The lack of confidence and fatigue they seem to be experiencing at the minute could cost them big.”

Liverpool have a crucial run of fixtures coming up, with trips to rivals Manchester United and Everton in the league, as well as their Champions League last-16 first leg against Bayern Munich scheduled over the next few weeks.

“Jurgen Klopp’s team has too much quality to fail now – this is their chance,” Ince said.

“The supporters can help them win the title, too. Liverpool fans are some of the best in the league, they’re unbelievable, but over the last couple of games at Anfield you can sense that the pressure is getting to them.

“They want to win the league desperately, but that anxiety then reflects on the pitch. You can sense how nervous the fans are, and when the fans are quiet the players are quiet. Heading into the title run-in, it’s as much down to the supporters to push the team on.”