Liverpool have gotten off to the opposite of a flier. Sputtering? In need of repairs? A flaming trash heap still parked on the runway? Well, let’s not get carried away, just yet.
After the totally unforeseeable death of a 96-year-old woman and a FIFA-mandated international break, the Reds got a much needed reprieve from a nascent injury crisis and some disappointing displays (and even more disappointing results).
Now, Liverpool have a chance for a fresh start, of sorts, albeit 9 points in the hole and a game in hand. Jurgen Klopp recognizes the importance of getting back to a winning mentality ahead of a difficult month.
“Brighton is the most important match of our season; the beginning and the end,” Klopp said in the matchday program.
“All of us, from the pitch, to the dugout, to the stands… we have to give our all for this game. This 90 minutes plus stoppage time. Yesterday can only help for information and tomorrow we will address when it arrives. We must be in the present - in the moment - in the here and now for all of these games.
“No-one here is hiding from the fact we have had a far from ideal start to the campaign. But at the same time, we all see the opportunity that is right in front of us.
“Between now and the break for the World Cup we are ‘game, game, game, game’. It is persistent. It is relentless. But that’s been our life at LFC for as long as I can remember.
“We have to embrace this challenge. See it as pressure of opportunity. It starts, as always, with me as the manager and my staff - but it’s the same for the players and the supporters.”
Liverpool certainly have their work cut out for them, but they have overcome bigger deficits, worse runs of play, and worse injury crises in recent seasons to achieve their team goals.
The Reds managed to finish third after a nearly disastrous stretch that included six home losses in a row, and down to Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams as the only surviving center halves in 2020/21. And last year the Reds made up 13 of the necessary 14 points in their chase of Manchester City, and nearly pipped them on the final day.
The knowledge that we’ve recently overcome worse is comforting, but one thing is clear: Brighton is the most important game from where we now stand. The Reds need a display (and this cannot be stressed enough, a result) that proves to themselves and others that they are back to being one of the top sides in England, and that they’re ready to get back on the march toward the top 4 (and higher).
To get back to the first analogy, the Big Red Machine has pulled off the runway, gotten a few repairs, refueled, and a new flight plan. Now is time to get off to a flier, at the second time of asking.