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HARD LESSON: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp after the Premier League match at Villa Park

HARD LESSON: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp after the Premier League match at Villa Park

PA

HARD LESSON: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp after the Premier League match at Villa Park

Liverpool had a huge reality check as they were battered 7-2 by Aston Villa on Sunday night - and now they have to respond like champions.

Any team can lose a football match and Barcelona's Champions League semi-final at Anfield last year, after they won the first leg 3-0, confirmed as much - the best can be beaten even when the odds are stacked in their favour.

Yet this defeat was different. This was not Manchester City exposing Liverpool's high defensive line, or Champions League winners Bayern Munich ripping through them with some world-class attacking performers.

With the greatest of respect to Aston Villa, this was a team that escaped relegation by their fingernails last season dishing out the kind of beating they might expect to administer to their youth team players on the training ground.

Questions

It was embarrassing for Liverpool. There is no other word to describe it and there are so many questions for Klopp to answer as his side has conceded 11 goals in their first four games.

The high defensive line they are using is clearly an issue and Villa exposed that brutally, while there are other issues in the team that need to be addressed after a result that left everyone shell-shocked.

It reminded me of a game when I was a kid and Liverpool lost 5-1 at Aston Villa in 1976.

I vividly recall listening to the commentary on the radio and I was left shocked by what I had heard.

They let in all five goals before half-time and this was a Liverpool side that was the best in Europe at the time and appeared to be invincible.

Everyone was stunned by what took place at Villa Park that evening and we had a similar emotion as the final score line of 7-2 exploded out of television screens on Sunday.

How on earth did that happen? What had we just witnessed?

They are all questions Klopp and his coaching staff need to answer over the next two weeks, but the inquest will have to take place without the players as they are all now off to play international matches.

I remember going away to play for Ireland after a disappointment at club level and it was not easy to get away from it.

You want to put it right quickly, but everything is put on hold while you play for your country and it is even worse for the manager and his coaching staff, who are already preparing for the next Premier League game.

There were so many alarm bells ringing at Villa Park and no area of the team functioned properly.

The defence was woeful, starting with the mistake from stand-in goalkeeper Adrian and moving on to the full-backs and Joe Gomez, who had a worryingly off night.

Villa were helped by a Liverpool midfield which didn't do anything to protect the backline and then we had the ongoing problem with Roberto Firmino, who had yet another off night leading the Liverpool line.

It was a disastrous performance and while I give credit to Jack Grealish and Aston Villa for taking advantage of Liverpool's deficiencies, that was not the performance we expect from this team of champions.

This set of players have won everything in the game over the last year or so and they set their standards much higher than we saw on Sunday evening.

They have not become a bad team overnight, but Klopp will expect to see a big reaction from his players when he gets them back at Melwood training base next week.

I'm pretty sure he will get what is looking for as these players will be hurting as much as their manager and Liverpool fans around the world right now.