Stop sack talk and give Juergen Klopp a break: Neil Humphreys
Real Reds fans do not demand German's departure
Juergen Klopp's mother died and he wasn't allowed to attend the funeral. The news is a week old, but bears repeating on the off chance that knuckle-scraping buffoons might get the message.
The Liverpool manager is human. The man is in mourning.
One of his Anfield predecessors made the joke about football, life and death, and it was just that. A joke. A tongue-in-cheek jibe at those folks who tend to get a bit carried away with the game's self-importance.
Last week, a son was unable to say goodbye, in person, to his dead mother. This week, Liverpool's adopted son has been trending on Twitter.
There are hashtags aplenty for the unthinking man's fool to choose from, as he demands the removal of a manager who took a plateauing club with a decent squad and transformed them into the world's best team for a year or two.
The Reds are certainly in decline. Of that, there can be little doubt, a fact that only enhances Klopp's achievements, rather than diminishes them.
According to a recent study in The Athletic, Klopp, who has won four titles at Liverpool, now helms the oldest squad in the club's English Premier League history. And thanks to the injury crisis, seven Reds have still played 80 per cent or more of the current, relentless season.
The German's gegenpressing model took Liverpool to the Promised Land after 30 years of failure, but the cost was considerable. Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are creeping towards the end of their roaring 20s. Their collective peak is behind them.
Liverpool's owners continue to show remarkable constraint, with a fondness for the Moneyball concept only adding to their fiscal conservatism. Whether that's an admirable financial position in a pandemic or a white flag in a cash-soaked sport depends on your point of view.
But the Reds are a fading force with a decimated defence and they miss their 12th man inside Anfield. They are exhausted.
Not that Klopp is immune to criticism. When an incoming manager rebuilds the club in his image, making it a point to be on first-name terms with all 80 staff at the training ground, he must acknowledge that his mood swings are infectious.
When he's up, the Reds take flight. When he's down, the Reds are a jittery mess, unable to deal with high balls against Leicester City or send simple messages between goalkeeper and centre-back.
Unlike Pep Guardiola's Manchester City, Klopp's Liverpool haven't really perfected a Plan B beyond their tried and tested 4-3-3 counter-pressing, which has now been successfully tracked and traced by smart opponents.
The erratic form of Thiago Alcantara and fitness of Diogo Jota haven't helped, stopping Klopp from implementing a tactical alternative, but his calls to arms on the touchline are falling on deaf ears.
There no longer seems to be the will. So there's no longer a way.
And yet, there's still the Champions League. Tomorrow morning (Singapore time) Liverpool take on RB Leipzig in the first leg of their last-16 tie in Budapest - a stark, visual reminder of the unremitting misery that lingers in the background.
The Reds are heading to a neutral venue for the same reason Klopp couldn't head back to Germany to attend his mother's funeral. The pandemic continues to put all things in perspective.
Or at least it would for those who do not spend their evenings screaming at social media feeds about Klopp's apparent failings. They are, as always, a minority. They are, as always, muddled.
But the very act of provocatively sticking the words "Klopp" and "sack" in the same sentence highlights where we are in this alternate reality of craziness.
Like the heroes of Istanbul, the Reds have a chance of airbrushing a poor league season from history and replacing it with another grand night in Europe.
But, even if Klopp's men fail, the manager has enough goodwill, surely, in the bank of human kindness to spare him such intense criticism until at least the end of the season.
Liverpool have 10 players missing through injury. Their Anfield advantage is gone. The club's owners remain reluctant to lavish huge sums on an ageing squad and the Reds are clearly passing their prime.
Maybe these factors could be taken into consideration before demanding Klopp's head.
And maybe, a grieving son might be allowed to mourn his late mother first.