There was always going to be a first loss of the Jürgen Klopp era. The club were never going to go the rest of the way undefeated, matching Arsenal's invincibles. And, given that when that loss came Liverpool were the better side and pushing until the end for a goal to pull themselves level, it's hard to be too upset about it.
Liverpool were the better side on Sunday against Crystal Palace. The problem was individual errors at the back—errors the manager and his coaching staff can work on in the coming weeks—and Christian Benteke having his worst match as a Liverpool player, wasting more chances than Liverpool's strikers would have seen in an entire month last season.
So while it's disappointing to lose, it isn't upsetting. It isn't worrying. Liverpool continue to work towards becoming a stronger, more capable side. And yet. And yet it's hard not to look at the game and how it ended today and feel as negative about the club and its future as in the worst moments of Brendan Rodgers' tenure or the Roy Hodgson months.
Not because of the club, or the manager, or the players or the owners. But because of the fans. The fans who went streaming out from behind Klopp with ten minutes to go and Liverpool down by just one goal to a side they had outplayed on the day. The players hadn't given up; the players were fighting for an equaliser. The fans were running for the exits.
"The goal came after 82 minutes," said Klopp, a man who last managed at Borussia Dortmund—a club known for their rabid fan support and for their yellow wall that sings from the first minute to the last without fail. "Twelve minutes to go, and I saw many people leaving the stadium. I turn around and saw them go. I felt pretty alone at this moment."
Klopp thought he was arriving at a club with a similar fanbase. And to hear Liverpool fans speak of themselves, you'd think they are. The fans like to talk about how they're better than the rest, smarter and more patient. How they have more history and knowledge. They like to present themselves as better supporters than the rest of English football.
A significant minority at least didn't look it against Crystal Palace. And what's worst is that Liverpool weren't being embarrassed by some side they were supposed to handle with ease. They weren't being shown up by the likes of Scunthorpe United and the match didn't come after a long run of disappointing results and the players hadn't given up.
Liverpool were playing well. The team had been the better side for most of the night against Palace and were still showing every sign that a late equaliser was possible. The week before, they'd beaten Chelsea. Mid-week, they overcame Rubin Kazan in difficult conditions. The exodus was embarrassing, even if Klopp was quick to redirect the blow of his criticism.
"I'm not disappointed," Klopp quickly added. "Maybe it's easier to leave with ten minutes to play. Maybe there are reasons. But we are responsible. We have to make sure that nobody leaves the stadium even a minute before the last whistle because [they know] anything can happen. That's what we have to show them, and today we didn't."
It's a generous reading of the situation from the manager, but not entirely true. Because Liverpool were the better side on Sunday, and both during the match and over the past month they've given fans plenty of reason to believe a late goal might just have been possible. And still the self-proclaimed best supporters in English football cut out early.
Fans started the night by singing You'll Never Walk Alone. Despite Liverpool outplaying their opponents, by the end, a fair few of those same fans had given lie to the sentiment. It was sad. It was embarrassing. It fully earned the chants of Jurgen's right, your fans are shite that are sure to rain down on Liverpool in the coming weeks.