A single defeat can send some teams spiralling out of control, but the Liverpool squad have quickly promised to put things right after losing at Watford.
Despite an incredible last couple of years, the 90 minutes at Watford made for terrible viewing both on and off the ball—and to their credit, the players are not trying to cover up that truth.
It would be easy for some players to just say ‘hey, everyone has an off day’ and brush it aside, but instead there is an important acknowledgement taking place.
Liverpool haven’t yet secured the title and the players take responsibility for every game and every result, with Virgil van Dijk immediately yesterday pointing to the team’s mentality and demanding it’s shown from the next game onward.
And left-back Andy Robertson, probably the Reds’ best performer on the day, has said similar, holding hands up to the fans and insisting the team must respond.
“Watford were at it from the start and we took time to get going. We had a couple of good moments but nowhere near enough for this Liverpool team,” he told the club website.
“It’s a performance that has not been expected for a number of years by the fans and we can only apologise for this performance. It’s up to us to bounce back.
“Up to this point it has still been a fantastic season but today we weren’t at the races, we weren’t the Liverpool that everyone has watched.”
The message of needing to “bounce back” is clear and utterly correct, given the rest of Liverpool’s season could be decided across the next 10 days.
Knock-out games in domestic and European cups come across the next two midweeks, while next weekend offers an opportunity to resume winning ways in the Premier League against Bournemouth.
Liverpool fans can simultaneously be disappointed with the result and performance at Watford, but also have enough credit in the bank for the group of players to let them off with a poor game if the response is right.
Liverpool have a recent history of responding in the best possible fashion; after all, the last time we didn’t win in the league, the Reds immediately embarked on this record-equalling 18-game win streak.
Robertson gave due credit to Watford for their victory on the day, but says it’s now all about the players’ next response and how they show their frustrations.
“It’s up to us to now bounce back because today wasn’t good enough, simple as that. Watford deserved the three points, they were brilliant to a man. And we weren’t.
“It’s up to us to now show that this defeat hurts and up to us to now go and put a run together that will crown us champions.
“Our message has always been the same: we can’t get carried away.
“That’s up to us to now show that and bounce back against Chelsea in the cup, then we’ve got another massive game against Bournemouth.
“We really need to put in a proper LFC performance and show everyone that this was just a blip, that now we’re going to crack on and get to where we want to be. Everyone knows where that is – but it’s up to us to now show it.”
The feeling of needing to get back to winning ways immediately was replicated by the squad’s Dutch duo, with Gini Wijnaldum and Virgil both acknowledging Watford deserved the win – and it’s now up to us to respond.
Messages coming out of the dressing room are as clear and impressive as the performance on Saturday was awful: we know it wasn’t right, and we’re going to correct it.
With the Reds facing Chelsea in midweek in the cup, it’ll be interesting to note the team that Klopp puts out.
While we have often rotated in the FA Cup, the tough nature of the opposition and the fact it’s another trophy now at stake could well mean we see a stronger side than usual in place – giving them all that opportunity to put the Watford debacle right.