Liverpool's 'Mentality Monsters' tag needed more than ever ahead of defining run

Sometimes, you wonder why we all love football. It can knock you for six just when you think it’s all going your way.

That rarely felt more relevant come the final whistle at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon, following Liverpool’s brutal, dim FA Cup exit at the hands of Manchester United.

On paper, the Reds should have comfortably progressed on Sunday afternoon, but this fixture has a funny way of making people look stupid.

Quite how some Liverpool fans still take this rivalry for granted, in terms of expecting the Reds to wipe the floor with United in every game these days, is unfathomable.

Form goes out of the window so often - let’s not forget the Merseysiders won 7-0 against their biggest rivals last season, at a time when they were playing dreadfully and Erik ten Hag’s side were flying.

To lose in that manner to your greatest adversaries, ending your hopes of winning a quadruple in the process, is always going to be a sickener, but it’s one we all have to suck up.

There will be endless coverage about the game in the coming days, just as there would have been if Liverpool had progressed in such a way, and accepting that these hits come your way is part of being a fan.

We have been spoiled all season, and it makes defeats even harder to stomach.

240318 -- MANCHESTER, March 18, 2024 -- Manchester United, ManU s Antony Matheus dos Santos 3rd L celebrates after scoring during the FA Cup quarterfinal match between Manchester United and Liverpool in Manchester, Britain, on March 17, 2024.

What cannot afford to happen now is for Sunday’s result to derail the Reds’ season, both in terms of supporters losing their heads, but far more importantly, Jurgen Klopp and his players staying focused on more pressing matters.

Because this is still only the FA Cup, and for all the pain that the United defeat caused, the Premier League has always taken precedence by a country mile, followed by the Europa League.

Whisper it quietly, but going out at this stage could even end up being beneficial when it comes to keeping legs fresh towards the end of a long and gruelling campaign.

We saw the impact a long run in both domestic cups ultimately had back in 2021/22, with Liverpool running in treacle by the time the Champions League final against Real Madrid arrived.

Throughout Klopp’s time in charge at Anfield, the term “Mentality Monsters” has constantly been brought up, and Liverpool have backed up this description of them so often.

Time and time again, they have battled through tough games and come out on top, particularly this season when tackling yet another big injury crisis, and few teams in the world have such belief that they will end up winning.

Once Klopp and his squad reconvene after the international break, there will rarely have been a more important time for this mentality to come to the fore, and there is absolutely no reason why it won't.

Jurgen Klopp

Football - FA Premier League - Liverpool FC v Manchester City FC LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 10, 2024: Liverpool s manager Jürgen Klopp before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester City FC at Anfield. Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda

Brighton at home at the end of the month was far, far more important than Sunday’s clash with United long before kickoff, and given the circumstances surrounding their cup exit, it now feels even more significant.

There can be no feeling sorry for themselves when Roberto De Zerbi’s dangerous side head to Anfield, and the pain of the weekend loss should be used solely as inspiration.

Sunday should simply be seen as one game too far for Liverpool, during a brilliant run before the internationals, with the law of footballing averages suggesting you will eventually come a cropper in at least one of the four competitions you are playing in.

It hurts, but it happens, especially against that lot.

This remains a season that can be legendary, and if the Reds can seal a second Premier League title, nobody will care one jot about what has just happened.

The Europa League would feel like a delightful cherry on top, should Klopp’s men make it to Dublin in May, but those 10 remaining league matches are gargantuan.

Liverpool have key players back and others should be returning in the coming weeks, so they feel primed for what threatens to be one of the most thrilling title races in the history of English football.

There are too many big characters in this squad to allow the Merseysiders to implode after one bad result at a historically horrible ground to visit, and keeping heads calm has to be the order of the day.

Football - FA Cup - Quarter-Final - Manchester United, ManU FC v Liverpool FC MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 17, 2024: Liverpool s Darwin Nunez looks dejected after the FA Cup Quarter-Final match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford. Man Utd won 4-3 in extra-time.

Manchester City and Arsenal will be hoping that Liverpool will now fade away, but deep down, they will fear a backlash, and will constantly be worried about Klopp going out in the most glorious way possible, finally getting to celebrate a league title in front of fans.

The German is a bad loser and so are his players, and they will not want to feel like they did on Sunday again for a long time.

At the start of this week, some glum heads are allowed for anyone associated with the club, but moping around for too long will help nobody, especially when there are bigger fish to fry.

The 90 minutes against Brighton on 31 March will tell us so much about this special Liverpool team, and failure to beat the Seagulls should cause more distress than a cup exit at the hands of United.

It's how you respond to setbacks that can define the great teams and it is going to be fascinating to see how the Reds fare once the domestic action gets back underway after a break that Klopp may well look forward to.

This magnificent manager and his relentless group of players have more than earned our trust, and it would be just like them to come roaring back, putting together an unstoppable run in the process.

Allowing a defeat to United to ruin Klopp's farewell tour doesn't even bear thinking about - a resounding win at Old Trafford in April, en route to a legendary title triumph, is the only solution.

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