Against Wolves over the weekend, Liverpool finished the game having recorded what looked on paper like a rather comfortable 3-1 margin following a dominant second half. Taken as a whole, though, that was far from the story of the match.
In counterpoint to their second half dominance was an exceptionally poor first half. It was going down a goal early before coming back to win. And, for better or worse, that’s been something of the story of this season so far.
Liverpool have four wins and a draw from five. They’re second on points. But they’ve had to overcome early deficits and red cards to get there. Which may not be sustainable, but does have people whispering again about mentality monsters.
“We want to create a lot of things during a season and one is obviously mentality,” said manager Jürgen Klopp as he reflected on the win this week. “It’s spirit, it’s a lot of things, resilience. And yes, we showed a few good signs.
“We showed very well that in good moments we are a really good football team, in lesser-good moments we obviously don’t give up so far. But it’s still early days. We are not stable yet, that’s definitely the case, you can see that. But we are on the way.”
If the Reds too often play as they did in the first half on Saturday, it’s hard to imagine it going well too often, but then every player and team will have poor moments and being able to ride them out with minimal damage is important.
Every team that has ever won anything will have a solid collection of such games. Having recorded one such over the weekend—and perhaps a few others before it this season, too—the question is what this group does next with that.
“We know that we have good footballers but these good footballers can play bad,” Klopp added. “We all know it: the very good games you win anyway and in the moment when you start winning the lesser-good games that is a good sign.
“Obviously the first half was not lesser-good, it was absolutely bad, but the second half was especially good. And knowing you can have a reaction like that is helpful, absolutely.”