A third loss in four games has some wondering if Liverpool are on a downward slope, but Sadio Mane feels the Reds can only learn from these moments.
The Reds were knocked out of the FA Cup by Chelsea on Tuesday night, failing to score in back-to-back defeats for the first time under Jurgen Klopp.
While there were areas of the game which were an improvement from the weekend loss at Watford, the result is the only aspect which fundamentally matters when it comes to the knock-out environment of cup competition—and here the Reds were lacking.
In particular, a failure to consistently create scoring opportunities of high quality has been a recent issue, though Liverpool did come up against a determined goalkeeper with a point to prove, with Chelsea‘s Kepa doing all he could to win back a place after being dropped recently.
Mane has pointed out that the Reds did have their chances, but dealing with setbacks is a big part of football.
“In the first half we played well and created many chances, but we just didn’t score, and Chelsea had a few chances and scored two goals, so game over,” he said after the whistle.
“We created enough chances to win, but we need to be more clinical in front of the goal and that was not the case. But that’s a part of football.
“I think in this moment you could be or could not be a champion, a great champion, and I think this kind of moment has happened to us, but it’s not the first time and it won’t be the last time.”
As Mane points out, the ups and downs in results are a normal part of life in the football world—it’s just that Liverpool fans, players and everyone else involved have gotten used to rewriting the rules.
But it could never last for all eternity, with this being the first challenge to the mindset of being better than the rest.
It’s a task that the players should relish, given their strengths in producing the unexpected, but the solutions can only be found by learning lessons and working hard, Mane says.
“We have another important game on Saturday [against Bournemouth] and then on Wednesday [against Atletico], so for this game we will be ready and we will be back again.
“This can happen in football and we’re used to it. We just have to keep working hard and keep going if we want to be great champions.
“We’ll learn from that defeat and then we’ll be ready to go again.”
The same message of immediate improvement being required came through from left-back Andy Robertson, speaking to assembled media pitchside at Stamford Bridge.
“We’ve not been good enough. At Watford we weren’t at the races, [against Chelsea] in spells we were and then the last half-hour we weren’t.
“We’ve been beaten three of the last four and that needs to change. People keep saying we’re going to be Premier League champions but we’re not just now. We believe we’re still a bit off it.
“We need to get going again, get back to performing well first and foremost, and hopefully that starts on Saturday.”
After the recent setbacks across three competitions, a return to winning ways against Bournemouth would be a timely tonic for Jurgen Klopp and his team.
The season-defining game will now likely come against Atletico next week, and the message from the players is clear: work hard, learn the lessons and we’ll get back to winning ways.