There were a number of absurdly hilarious moments during Liverpool's disappointing 2014-2015 season, but few could top the first 45 minutes away to Stoke City in the season finale. The final 45 were spent realizing that Steven Gerrard was actually going to end his Liverpool career on the wrong end of the worst loss in over five decades, but for a delirious opening half, there was little to do other than laugh as the hosts hung five on a ridiculously incompetent Liverpool side.
In reality not so funny, okay, but still, there was nothing to do other than laugh as Stoke's midfield and attack cut through their visitors with ease. It looked to be a result that would put Brendan Rodgers out of a job, and while the manager would ultimately survive, it's a match that will live long in the memories of those involved that day.
Jordan Henderson served as vice captain that day, and ahead of the start of the 2015-2016 season, the newly anointed captain spoke in grave terms describing the lasting impact of the loss:
"It will be a day that many of us will never forget. The way we played, the result, the goals we conceded, everything, it went from bad to worse. At half-time in the dressing room, a few of us tried to say some things to get everyone going and get something back. But then full-time came and it was awful. It was a sickening feeling, really.It was embarrassing to go there as a Liverpool player and get beaten like that. There is nobody more disappointed in the dressing room than the players but you have got fans who have supported the club for however many years and paid a lot of money to go and watch us. The very least they want to see is a team that puts up a fight and gives everything for them. They wouldn't accept what they saw that day and nor should they. Look at the goals we conceded. We expect high standards from ourselves and so do the supporters.
"You have got to keep it as a motivation to make sure it never, ever happens again. For the majority of last season, we know that we didn't perform to the levels that we were expected to. We had a good period but the start and the end, we never performed as we should have done. But I think last season will help us going forward. It will help the young players learn what it is like to play for this football club."
Henderson and company won't have to wait long to try to avenge the loss, as they'll open this coming season at the Britannia on August 9. A cruel fate by one standard, but also a chance to atone for an embarrassing, miserable finale by another. And if Liverpool's improvements this summer are more than just hypothetical, it could very well serve as a launching pad for a strong start to the campaign ahead.
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