Calamitous and demoralising? It was just a blip…

Date published: Tuesday 30th January 2018 9:53

“We have to make it much better from now on. If you use a defeat to learn from then it is still bad but it is OK. If you don’t learn from it you are silly.”

And if you don’t learn from your first back-to-back defeats in almost 12 months then you absolutely should not be playing for Jurgen Klopp, a man who is handed two lemons and promptly makes enough lemonade to quench the five thousand.

Football needs a crisis club and Liverpool handed football a gift wrapped in ludicrous defending with defeats against the bottom two clubs in the Premier League. That Liverpool had only lost three Premier League games all season, had earned a winnable Champions League last-16 side and were firmly ensconced in the top four was forgotten by just about everybody outside Melwood.

The Daily Telegraph’s Chris Bascombe summed up the collective panic when he wrote: ‘It is two weeks since Liverpool extended an unbeaten run by ending Manchester City’s. Now what? Not quite a season in tatters, but the most calamitous, demoralising sequence of Jurgen Klopp’s reign.’

More calamitous and demoralising than January last year when Liverpool crashed out of two cups in a month and dropped from second in the Premier League to fifth? Of course not, but this is football and short memories are as much a part of the game as set-pieces and corner flags. This was a manufactured crisis that was smashed in Huddersfield almost as quickly as it was constructed in Swansea.

Liverpool are five points clear of a tired Tottenham side preparing to face Manchester United on Wednesday night and eight points clear of an Arsenal side who really could teach Liverpool plenty about being calamitous and demoralising. As lovely as a trophy would be, a second consecutive top-four finish and a Champions League quarter-final place would represent a pretty good season, especially with the added bonus of ridiculous money for a player not even among the best dozen in the world.

Klopp is a long-term manager; Liverpool are likely to enjoy his services for the next six or seven years. To declare disaster after two defeats that follow 18 matches without a single one is nothing short of ridiculous. With the money available to the Manchester clubs, only a fool would have expected Klopp to deliver the title in his first two full seasons. Only a fool would believe Liverpool are even close to being a crisis club in a season when they have scored more goals than any other team barring the runaway leaders.

As usual, there was nothing to see here. Well, nothing but a Liverpool side who are better than 16 or 17 other Premier League sides and made very easy work of winning their 14th top-flight game of the season. Huddersfield showed a criminal lack of ambition but they had been encouraged in that direction by the performance of Swansea. What they discovered is that Liverpool under Klopp are not silly enough not to learn from defeat.

Suddenly, the crisis looks awfully like a blip.

Sarah Winterburn


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