What does anyone say about a loss like that? As players, as staff, managers, even supporters. How do you explain or apologize or try to make sense of it? As you, reader, may well know by now, Liverpool suffered a 5-0 defeat at the Etihad to Manchester City on Saturday after Sadio Mané received a straight red card in the 36th minute for colliding with City goalkeeper Ederson. Playing against City was always going to be a challenge in and of itself, but to go down to 10 men in such a way proved even more difficult for the Reds.
“It’s a really tough task. We have to learn from it because you never know when it could happen again,” Georginio Wijnaldum told the club website. “You hope it never happens again but things can happen in a game and we must make sure, if it happens again, we do better with 10 men than we did. City are a good team of course, with good players, but we could have done better with 10 men.
“You have to look forward but we still have to learn from this. There are plenty of things we can learn from this game; we have to learn from that and then move on.”
To their credit, this squad has never been faced with such a challenge, so to look at it optimistically is to hope they learn from the mistakes they made on Saturday. With the Champions League match against Sevilla coming fast on Wednesday, there is another chance to learn from those lessons sooner than later. A quicker chance to move on.
The Reds were playing well up until that fateful moment, despite even going a goal down thanks to Sergio Aguero. The red proved to be a more decisive moment than that early goal. With much debate regarding the validity of the decision, truly the only thing that matters is that it happened - and how the Reds responded.
“If you look back at the game, it was crucial,” added Wijnaldum.
“They scored the first goal with 11 men [in opposition] but we still created chances with the speed of Sadio and Mo [Salah]. It was really difficult for them to defend us. You have to change the way of playing if one man is sent off.
“[The decision] can go both ways. From what I saw on the replays, Sadio was looking at the ball. I think he didn’t even know that the ‘keeper was that close to him. It was just unlucky. The referee made the decision and you have to deal with it.”
The question remains whether the club or the player will appeal the decision or not. The damage, though, has already been done.