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Everything's the Worst: The Unimaginable

After Liverpool knocked Manchester United out of the Europa League, only the Football Gods could have written Sunday's sickening script.

Alex Broadway/Getty Images

There is nowhere to turn after yesterday, but congratulations must be offered to Ronald Koeman and his players for a stirring comeback on their end. While the season hasn't disintegrated into oblivion after Sunday's offerings, soothing words cannot be proffered after such a risible imitation of fortitude. When Liverpool lost a two-goal lead to draw at home to Sunderland, a walkout couldn't cover the meek resistance offered when a relegation-threatened side decided to perk up a bit. Simon Mignolet played his part and the team followed suit. Against Southampton, Martin Škrtel seemed to be the inspiration for a horrid capitulation after he came on for Dejan Lovren. Just as there are occasions when the collective can be inspired by the individual, sometimes the many can be undone by the few.

Whatever anyone thinks of the Slovakian captain, he was desperately poor on his return to action. More importantly, it appears that Liverpool failed to seize a glorious opportunity with time running out in this unpredictable Premier League campaign. Jürgen Klopp has often made the right call when making substitutions, knowing when to add pace in attack or an extra body in midfield. The charismatic German has been a galvanising and inspirational figure at Liverpool so far and will continue to be, but he played his part in Liverpool dropping points by deploying the wrong options at the wrong time.

Liverpool's midfield needed support when Southampton seemed to be taking over the game and dominating the midfield area. In the first leg against Manchester United in the Europa League last 16, Klopp deployed Joe Allen -- albeit in an attacking midfield role -- to give the home side extra composure and numbers in the middle. Control of the game was wrestled back at 1-0, Liverpool doubled their lead within ten minutes of Allen coming on, and the tie was effectively about Klopp's side scoring one more goal at Anfield or Old Trafford to secure safe passage to the quarter finals.

With Roberto Firmino, Klopp has the option of bringing off Daniel Sturridge for a midfielder or an attacking player who can help the side retain possession like Adam Lallana and entrusting Firmino to float around in attack. Jordan Henderson for Sturridge with 20 minutes remaining could have turned the tide against Southampton's growing home resistance. Divock Origi could have been retained up front with more support in what was becoming an increasingly soft centre in Liverpool's nougaty team. Liverpool have struggled with composure throughout the side, especially under pressure in games like this. The supporters palpably fear what could occur when a goal is conceded, and Klopp has been trying to make the team more organised and harder to beat.

A purge isn't being advocated for, but Liverpool are ninth in the Premier League. From the impressive to the disconcerting, both mediocrity and inconsistency undermine any prospect of taking any chances that come the club's way. There are, though, good players within the squad beyond the likes of Sakho, Coutinho, Sturridge, Clyne, Can, and Firmino. It was there; a real chance of a top four finish was being prised open by a team with momentum. It may have lead to naught in the coming weeks, but let our chances evaporate from parity not seemingly inalienable superiority.

There is something disgustingly delicious in knocking Machester United out of the Europa League on Thursday only to lose this type of game a few days later. What about Louis van Gaal's side going on to record an unlikely victory at the Etihad mere hours later, opening a route to the land of milk and honey that seemed almost impossible to navigate weeks ago? With half an hour to go at St. Mary's, Liverpool should have finished the weekend looking to put more pressure on West Ham United, Manchester United, and Manchester City with a game in hand.

It stings. It hurts. It should not have been so. It was, and onwards we must go. Tottenham Hotspur and Borussia Dortmund. It is hoped that Liverpool will display the more delightful side of unpredictability. The opportunity to continue to play for Liverpool and Jürgen Klopp should steel the minds of some within the squad. October to May might not represent an eternity to prove one's credentials, but for those who will be judged as unnecessary for the road ahead, it will have been enough. Five-year contracts, lengthy service, and hulking price tags will offer no protection in the full glare of the Premier League table and unsatisfactory performances.

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