Liverpool title truth clear for Jürgen Klopp after Everton fans' sharp repeated message

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp.
Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp. -Credit:Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

GOODISON PARK, LIVERPOOL // Jürgen Klopp was furious with referee Andy Madley on the touchline for most of the first half, appearing to suggest that his side was being treated differently by the man in the middle. But by the second, there were no excuses: he knew he could only ask for more from his players when they just couldn't get going.

The Liverpool boss sent his team out early for the second half, and that is usually a sign of only one thing. If he did give them a stern talking to at the interval, though, it only worked to a small degree. The impact soon wore off thanks to Everton getting back into its stride, backed by a crowing home support.

Klopp's troops did rally early in the second period and held Everton back for a spell, as they had during the last moments of the first. But that led absolutely nowhere. Liverpool couldn't score and then Dominic Calvert-Lewin rose at the far post to head home what was essentially the clincher. Liverpool hadn't looked likely to find the back of the net up to that point and the result was sealed.

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Here are the three moments picked out from the Reds' 2-0 defeat against Everton at Goodison Park. From here, it would take points behind dropped by either Arsenal or Manchester City even for Klopp's men to finish above third, though it would take a remarkable collapse to miss out on the Champions League spots.

The Good: There really wasn't too much from a Liverpool perspective. Alexis Mac Allister and Trent Alexander-Arnold had odd moments where they showed glimpses of their quality but it was never enough. Andy Robertson got into some promising positions without ever really having a sufficient level of quality amid a sea of bodies in the middle.

The period at the end of the first half when Liverpool properly penned Everton into its own box was as good as it got. But that wasn't enough to force the ball past Jordan Pickford.

The Bad: Where do you begin? Darwin Núñez was anonymous and Mohamed Salah wasn't much better; both missed big chances. Indeed, Liverpool didn't really ever truly look capable of scoring. Dominik Szoboszlai struggled again and Mac Allister was afforded absolutely no space to work in.

Everton pressed really well, used the crowd, and was able to get into the faces of those in red. Sean Dyche had them drilled in the exact manner that was always likely to mean Liverpool came unstuck. The challenge for the next Liverpool manager is to take these players to another level. The first thing might be to restore some confidence in their own ability.

The Ugly: Liverpool's defending could have been better but it was the forward play that really looked to be lacking. Núñez and Salah needed to step up with Diogo Jota and Cody Gakpo missing, but neither was able to. The big hitters were back but Liverpool didn't reap the benefits of what should have been a boost.

As the crowd repeatedly sang with glee that Liverpool had 'lost the league at Goodison Park', though, the truth of that is clear. Liverpool lost the league with poor performances against Manchester United and Crystal Palace. It lost the league when the injury situation finally caught up with Klopp's charges. It fell away from being the favorite when the goals dried up and the creativity was lost.

Even had Liverpool beaten Everton, it would have still not been the favorite for the league title. What this group of players needs is to prove that it has learned the right lessons. It won't be Klopp at the helm next season, but whether it is Arne Slot or someone else, the collective experience among the playing staff of getting this far must be harnessed. It wouldn't take much of an uptick to go one better next time around.

Everton fans might have had it very wrong about where the title chase was relinquished, but its players had it very right from the first whistle. Liverpool was simply unable to cope and missed the chance to keep its hopes of a dream Klopp send-off alive.