Barnes: Premier League title talk will kill Liverpool!

Liverpool legend John Barnes is keen to temper the optimism surrounding Anfield since Jurgen Klopp took over the Reds hot seat from Brendan Rodgers in October. 

Expectations have been rising at Anfield with Klopp in charge, but Barnes is urging fans not to get too carried away, saying to judge the season only after 30 games.

Since his appointment, Liverpool have lost just once in 10 games, winning six of those, including emphatic victories at Chelsea and Manchester City. The Reds are now just six points adrift of the current top sides Manchester City and Leicester City, fuelling talk of a title challenge that was deemed impossible just months ago.

However, Barnes - who was part of the 1987-88 and 1989-90 Liverpool title-winning sides - believes there is still a long way for the Reds to go before they are to be considered serious contenders for the prize.

“I’m happy with how they’re doing, but I was happy with what they were doing under Rodgers as well,” the 52-year-old told assembled media from the sidelines of the Standard Chartered Liverpool football clinic at the Home United Youth Academy (HYFA) on Monday afternoon.

“You’ve to be realistic on what you can expect. Klopp is now maximising the potential of the team, but doesn’t mean we’re going to win the league because we still need to invest in a couple of players.

“Liverpool are in a position to challenge for fourth or third, but to say that he’s going win the league will kill us.  Come January where we can sign new players, then we can see the quality of the team again and say that it’s a good side.” 

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Barnes is not surprised by Liverpool’s recent revival, instead putting it down to the “natural” effect whenever a new man takes over at the helm.

“We’re playing with different intensity, determination and pace; we’re defending high up the field,” he elaborated. “But that’s what happens when a new manager comes in.

“That’s what happened with Tim Sherwood at Aston Villa, but eventually things will settle down after the manager is in charge of 10 or 12 games. The euphoria of a new manager means players will run extra three yards, try harder and listen to the manager because he’s new.

“But that’ll settle down because of the quality of the team. That’s why it doesn’t surprise me how well Klopp has done since coming here; it’s natural progression. What I hope to see is that this continues. We’re moving in the right direction now, but we’ll get a better idea of where we’re after 20 to 30 games.”

Pointing out how quickly Rodgers fell from grace in his time in charge of Liverpool, Barnes is hoping that the fans will give Klopp the time and patience to fully turn things around.

“When we finished second in the league [in 2014], the fans loved Rodgers,” he recalled. “Then all of a sudden, they didn’t – that’s the nature of football fans. Football fans don’t give managers time, not just Liverpool fans. They may be rejoicing now, but that’s for the time being.

“What’ll help us is that the fans continue to stick by and support him even if we don’t finish in the top three, hopefully the fans recognize that. We’ve got a good manager. With the time, support and right kind of investment, he can take us where we want to be.”