Of the many talking point after Sunderland came back from being 2-0 down to draw level with Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday was the effect that the 77th minute ticket price protest had on Liverpool's players. The expectation that Liverpool should be able to hold a lead for thirteen minutes shouldn't be too outrageous, but when the team self-destucted after the departure of thousands, speculation began that the fan exodus had an impact on the team's performance.
"We have one of the best supporter groups in the world and over the world," said Pep Lijnders, standing in for post-match duties for Jürgen Klopp, "and if they want to make a statement they have all the right to make a statement. Of course it didn't affect the players. It probably changed the atmosphere in the stadium but not the mentality of the players.
"We have a group of players who are young of course, a group of players with loads of individual quality but also loads of individual potential. It's up to us to create a style, with Jürgen as the captain, that all these individuals and the collective gets further developed. We truly believe winning is a logical result of development."
Presumably the players are both smart enough to know that the departure of the fans was completely unrelated to the performance on the pitch, and aware enough to know that there were larger issues at hand at the club on the day. Liverpool have coughed up more than enough leads this season that the end result isn't exactly shocking, though it is disappointing, and thus it seems a bit silly to assign causation to something with which there is merely a correlation.
Liverpool face in their FA Cup replay against West Ham on Tuesday, so it will be interesting to see what, if any, additional protests are planned for that match. At the very least, Liverpool fans will hope that the team themselves don't protest the idea of winning, and that's something all fans can likely agree on.