It was within a strange atmosphere that we filed out of Anfield after Saturday’s mad 3-3 draw with an all-too-often problematic Brighton.
There was no anger, no overbearing frustration, just a sense of resignation that the outcome was just about what we deserved for our endeavours and misadventures.
Two goals down within 18 minutes, 3-2 up just beyond the hour, this was a game where success was clawed from the jaws of calamity, before the olive branch of a draw was offered to our visitors.
Nobody had the barefaced cheek to suggest we had been robbed by Leandro Trossard’s hat-trick clinching, 83rd-minute goal.
I went into this game having determined myself that I would be keeping a watching brief on Trent Alexander-Arnold, with the scope to dedicate this article to him, his role in Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, and Gareth Southgate’s inability to integrate him into a stunningly dull England set up.
Yet, there was so much going on all over the pitch that it was impossible to indulge in an in-person version of player cam.
This one was all about sporadic collective malfunction vs. occasional group cohesion. We spluttered together, we corrected ourselves together, and we gave away two points together.
Yes, some elements are having a tougher time than others, but everything has a chain reaction when confidence is delicate.
Every mistake is currently intensified, every goal conceded is forensically deconstructed and rebuilt to fit any given agenda. That’s football.
For the first two months of the season, we seem like we have been dusting ourselves down from the face-planting of the final seven days of the 2021/22 season.
International breaks and the death of a monarch have been and gone; it appears that scheduled and enforced hiatuses have not blown the cobwebs away, and the end of this maddening habit of conceding first shows no sign of evaporating any time soon.
Against Brighton, for good measure, given the paucity of football available of late for Liverpool supporters, they threw in that bonus of two conceded without reply within 18 minutes.
If I were a politician, I would be able to present a heavily doctored landscape, where this was the first time since the end of August that we had conceded first in a Premier League fixture.
Yet, we’ve played just once in the league since that last-gasp comeback victory at home to a machiavellian Newcastle, that game being the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park, where we of course conceded first only for VAR to be benevolent to us.
This fractured fixture list and the fact that we had been able to down tools for the last two and a half weeks, presented us with the opportunity to perform something of a factory reset, and Klopp had spoken of the excellent work that had been put in on the training pitch.
By full time on Saturday, he might have been better served had he took them for a week in the Mediterranean sunshine instead. Maybe even go-karting, or paintballing, or the type of outward-bound weekend where overweight middle-aged salesmen from Daventry, called Martin and Derek, do crate stacking and abseiling.
Klopp has so much good karma accumulated at Anfield that if this is to be his Liverpool equivalent of ‘that season’ he had at Borussia Dortmund, then maybe we all just need to sit back and accept the ride.
Our current problems aren’t down to the form of one player. Klopp will be ridiculed for his defence of Trent prior to the visit of Brighton, but everything he said remains valid.
We aren’t talking about a textbook right-back. In the 10 minutes or so that I dedicated exclusively to Trent-watching on Saturday, he occupied positions that would be recognised on a chalk board as the right-sided component of a three-man central defence, the playmaking midfield pivot situated in the centre circle, and an orthodox right winger, as well as dropping into a traditional right back area when called upon.
He really could play anywhere in a formation as rigid as the one Southgate deploys for England.
There are other players that are labouring, as we have been repeatedly exposed in central defence no matter which partner Virgil van Dijk has been handed, while both Jordan Henderson and Thiago – who have had injury disrupted starts to the campaign – got into difficulties at times against Brighton.
The form of Bobby Firmino and Luis Diaz has been vital, instances that fly in the face of suggestions that we are struggling to cope on the front-foot without the input of Sadio Mane. That said, Liverpool’s current issues are of a collective accumulation, and they will be remedied as a group.
We are now 11 points behind a pacesetting Arsenal, the team we happen to be travelling to face next Sunday in our next Premier League assignment, and beyond that it gets so much simpler with the visit to Anfield of Man City, games that will be separated by the second part of our double-header encounters with Rangers.
Ahead of us is a month and a half that will represent the most ominous of sliding doors. Which version of Liverpool rises to the occasions in front of us is open to conjecture.
Up the Reds.