London, November 10: Jurgen Klopp is doing a good job at Liverpool but needs defensive reinforcements if he is to take the club to the next level, according to the Reds' former striker Michael Owen.
Liverpool already sit 12 points behind early leaders Manchester City after an inconsistent start to the 2017-18 campaign that has included heavy defeats to Tottenham and Pep Guardiola's side, as well as high-profile a win over Arsenal and an unbeaten opening four games in the Champions League.
Klopp finished fourth in his first full season in charge and Owen feels it would be wrong to criticise him, even though there is a gap in quality between the club and City.
Owen claimed the German is performing well, although he rued the club's failure to sign a defender in the transfer window – the capture of Southampton's Virgil van Dijk having eluded them – and expects the boss to try again in January.
"Jurgen Klopp is doing a good job, I think he is very popular," Owen told Omnisport at the Golden Foot Hublot Award in Monaco.
"The problem with Liverpool at the moment is in defence. I think Jurgen Klopp knows it and he tried to remedy that problem over the summer but couldn't get the one or two targets that he had.
"And that's unfortunately been the problem - in defence, they have conceded far too many goals and now there is a bit of a gap from the top, from Manchester City to Liverpool.
"Jurgen Klopp will definitely try to strengthen in the winter with defensive players because in attack Liverpool are very exciting."
Liverpool are top of their Champions League group, as are Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham, while Premier League champions Chelsea are in a strong position to reach the last 16.
Delighted to receive a Golden Foot Monaco award and join so many great names of the game. Even get my footprint on Promenade of Larvotto! pic.twitter.com/xhMmtiZMMF— michael owen (@themichaelowen) November 7, 2017
Owen has been buoyed by the English top flight's improvement in Europe as the dominance of Spanish clubs, who have won the competition for four straight seasons, is threatened.
"I think we have been very disappointed in recent years with our Premier League in the Champions League," he said.
"But this year, I think this is the strongest set of teams that we have had for a long time. Manchester City are really playing well, a more attacking team, but then we have got Chelsea and Manchester United who are more defensive and solid, Tottenham as well.
"And then we have got Liverpool, who are a good attacking team. So we have got a variety of different teams, but this year much stronger than last year."