Jurgen Klopp’s men claimed victory over Brentford at Anfield in the German’s 350th match as manager of the Reds, handing him his 213th success as Kop boss
If ever there was a moment which summed up the fickle nature of football, it came here at Anfield, as Liverpool moved to second in the table.
Midway through a landmark game for Jurgen Klopp, the news swirled around the stadium that Rafa Benitez had been sacked barely half a mile away, by rivals Everton, and the Kop began to sing his name.
This was Klopp’s 350th game in charge of the Reds, only the eighth manager to reach that figure in the club’s history, which took him alongside Benitez on the all time list.
His Anfield predecessor had lasted just 25 matches at Goodison, winning just seven of them. Conversely, with this controlled, comfortable win over direct and physical Brentford opponents, Klopp has won 213 of his games.
That gives him a win percentage of 60.75, which is the best of any manager in Liverpool history.
It already makes him a legend, but where Benitez was sacked at Anfield after his 350th game in charge, Klopp believes there is far more to come from him and his squad.
You could see why here at Anfield, on a crisp football afternoon.
Brentford, all towering long balls, headers and elbows, were tough opponents who belied their manager’s philosophy of open football to make it as physical as possible.
Yet stung by the criticism and lack of cutting edge without Mo Salah and Sadio Mane in midweek against Arsenal, where they failed to have a single shot on target against 10 men, Liverpool were a different side.
Klopp said he had worked as long as possible on how to stop his opponents from winning dead balls around the Liverpool box, after conceding three to that method at Brentford.
It showed as they didn’t concede a single corner in the game, and restricted the London club to just one real chance, a decent one mind, where Christian Norgaard’s ball found Bryan Mbeumo in space, but he shot just wide.
Liverpool were already ahead by then, and that scare focussed minds, as they ran out easy winners.
But the key was Klopp’s desire to show he learned the lesson of the away game, where they drew 3-3, and could also cope without his two main goalscorers.
The key moment came just before half time, with a goal from an unlikely source in the absence of Salah and Mane, though Fabinho joked afterwards that he is the club’s top scorer in January, after grabbing two in the FA Cup game against Shrewsbury.
Here he bundled the ball in at the far post as everyone missed a corner from Trent Alexander-Arnold, who was the most effective attacking influence in the game.
After a scare just past the interval, Liverpool went to a different gear.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored a brilliant second before departing early with a turned ankle, as he ghosted onto a brilliant cross from Andy Robertson.
Traki Minamino added a third when his pressing and one 1-2 with Roberto Firmino produced a delightful goal, and teenage sub Kaide Gordon on his Premier League debut so very nearly added a fourth.
Life without Mane and Salah will be tough, but Gordon at least shows there is hope for the future.
And with Klopp insisting his Anfield story is far from complete just yet, you have to believe there are more trophies on the horizon, even if City look home and hosed this season in the Premier League.