Paul Ince: It’s clear Liverpool are feeling the pressure at the top

Former Liverpool midfielder Paul Ince feels The Reds are wobbling a bit and their big players need to stand up soon or it will cost them…

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.

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 and get three points, and the enormity of that got to them.

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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 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 minute could cost them big.

Now is the time for leaders to step up

This is where leaders are crucial – Virgil van Dijk and James Milner need to step up. They need to reassure the team that there’s a long way to go yet, and steady the ship.

There are plenty of Liverpool players who haven’t won anything yet, so it’s unsurprising that the pressure is mounting on them.

Jurgen Klopp’s behaviour from now on is crucial, he needs to bring that confidence back to the players and make sure they don’t doubt themselves.

Man City have got the experience of winning it before and that’s what Liverpool are up against.

They face Everton, and could go top, which puts a huge amount of weight on Liverpool v Bournemouth this week. That feels like a must-win game – alarm bells will start to ring should they fail to win that.

Liverpool also need to be wary of Tottenham. At the minute, they’re playing their football knowing that the eyes are nearly all on the top two. In fact, they’re only two points behind City now and should be taken more seriously as a threat.

Players need to focus – and avoid social media

My advice to the players would be to try and focus now. If you can, try to turn off being constantly on social media, try to avoid a lot of the noise, get your head down and remember how you got to this stage.

Jurgen Klopp’s team has too much quality to fail now – this is their chance.

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.

People will ask questions if Liverpool miss out this year

There’ll be a lot of people asking questions if they miss out on winning the league this year after missing out on the Champions League last year.

I personally still see getting into the final as a massive achievement, and if they almost win the league this year, that shows improvement from Klopp. But, the question will they be asked about whether or not they’re capable of winning anything.

It will always be asked if you keep failing year after year. Whether it’s deserved or not.

Despite this blip, I believe Liverpool will still go on and win it. But, they need to focus and get in a good place mentally.

If I was manager, I’d rather be in the position that Klopp is than Pep Guardiola is – if you asked anyone whether they’d be happy to be three points ahead at the top in February, they’d tell you yes.

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