The day before, they had somehow managed to spoil a dominant performance at Leicester City with a calamitous late collapse that turned a 1-0 lead into a demoralizing 3-1 loss.
If they had won, the Reds would have moved up to third place. Instead, a fifth in eight defeat has cast further doubt on their Champions League qualification aspirations.
And Mohamed Salah, who scored Liverpool’s goal at King Power Stadium, was forced to send a message to the bewildered fan base.
“It was a difficult time for many reasons,” he said. “We are champions and we will fight like champions, until the very end.
“We will not allow this season to be defined by the recent results we have achieved. This is my promise to all of you. “
The date was February 14. Jurgen Klopp’s side finished the weekend in sixth place, with Everton and Aston Villa having games in hand to push them lower in the table.
Indeed, things would get worse before they got better, with successive home defeats to Everton, Chelsea and Fulham – resulting in a club record six in a row – leaving Liverpool in eighth place with 10 games to go, four points out of the first four after game over.
Then came the awakening.
A hard-won victory for Wolves. A demolition of Arsenal in the Emirates. A last minute home triumph for Aston Villa.
Even setbacks to Leeds United and Newcastle United, against which late equalizers were conceded, would provide galvanizing force.
Those draws came during the week when Liverpool players took a stand against club owners over the proposed European Super League, with the Reds’ involvement unintentionally putting the team on the shooting line.
And skipper Jordan Henderson admitted that Klopp’s side were far from impressed that Leeds presented t-shirts in the dressing room at Elland Road bearing the message ‘Champions League – Earn It’.
“The t-shirts, in my opinion, were disrespectful,” he told The New York Times. “The players had done nothing. It was not something we wanted. “
Some extra fuel had been thrown on the growing Liverpool fire.
Must-see news from Liverpool FC
Another disruption came in the form of protests from Manchester United fans who saw the anticipated May 2 clash at Old Trafford postponed and left the Reds to end the season with five games to win in 16 days.
He also presented United with a ridiculous run of three Premier League games in five days in which they prioritized visiting Liverpool ahead of a home clash with Leicester, who had become the Reds’ main rivals for a place. among the top four.
But after hardening themselves by the relentless succession of setbacks earlier in the campaign, Klopp and his men just rolled up their sleeves and continued on.
Southampton, United, West Bromwich Albion and Burnley were all beaten, each with goals in the dying moments – demonstrating the new appetite to shatter to the last kick with an achievable target in sight. Like in previous seasons, they found a way.
Of course, Liverpool were helped by Chelsea and Leicester City being distracted by the Cup commitments. Once Liverpool were kicked out of the Champions League by Real Madrid, their only goal was the Premier League.
That should not, however, compromise the success of Sunday’s 2-0 triumph over Crystal Palace, which meant they had won their last five league games – only the sixth time the Reds have achieved such a feat since returning to the league. the elite in 1962.
You will also receive the latest transfer discussions and analysis direct to your inbox every day with our free email newsletter.
Register here – it only takes a few seconds!
So let’s come back to Salah. The forward has been constantly chased by suggestions in some quarters, he’s more concerned with personal glory than team success with his Golden Boot pursuit seen as supporting evidence.
This point of view is as bizarre as it is stupid and crumbles under the slightest scrutiny.
And such a debate can surely finally be put to rest given the Egyptian’s cheerful reaction to his team-mates scoring the goals which gradually propelled Liverpool to their remarkable third place.
Salah may have missed a third Golden Boot against Tottenham Hotspur forward Harry Kane, but the real price has come with Champions League football secured once again.
He kept his promise. And Liverpool have deserved it – and more.