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Richard Dunne: 'I wouldn’t be too downhearted if I was in the Liverpool camp'

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Andrew Robertson of Liverpool reacts during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Liverpool FC on January 3, 2019. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)

Andrew Robertson of Liverpool reacts during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Liverpool FC on January 3, 2019. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Andrew Robertson of Liverpool reacts during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Liverpool FC on January 3, 2019. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)

Liverpool are not champions yet and how they react to last night’s loss to Manchester City is a test of whether they can become champions at last. It will be a sign of their title credentials if they can react to this and go on a run.

I know the defeat will hurt the Liverpool players and supporters today but I wouldn’t be too downhearted if I was in their camp.

In fact, they will use the result to spur them on and they will remind themselves that they are still in a great position. Yes, they’ve suffered a blow but they can’t let it slip away from them now.

Liverpool played well and they were in the game for the whole night. For me, they answered a few questions, even though they were beaten.

Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola reflect on the Premier League title race after Man City's vital 2-1 win over Liverpool that reduced the gap between them to just four points.

City were better than them on the night but that doesn’t mean the title race is over for Liverpool – far from it – and the fact that they matched City for so long will give them hope.

I think the feeling among the Liverpool support now will be that in Virgil van Dijk they have a great centre half but Dejan Lovren looked so poor on the night and that’s an issue for them. 

In games like that you need players to stand up and be counted and Fernandinho did that for City.

He’s so important for them and they really missed him in the games they lost last month.

He was so vital last night: he won every tackle, he got stuck in, he’s someone who protects the back four so well that it’s hard to get past him and with the front three that started for Liverpool never had the creativity you’d need to cause problems.

Liverpool started off slowly. They tried to play it too cool; Alisson was taking too long on the ball and that gave City the impetus to go and pressure them.

Over the 90 minutes City edged it and were the better team in possession. Liverpool improved when Fabinho came on but overall City were the better side on the night.

Liverpool have not been used to being in this position; being the ones ahead, at the top of the table and the burden that comes with that – the pressure of being leaders and not chasers.

You look at what happened with Tottenham recently. They got involved, however briefly, in the title race but right away, the pressure got to them and they lost 3-1 to Wolves.

Even before last night, you look at Liverpool and their recent history suggests they can’t hold on when they are in the lead, like under Brendan Rogers a few years back when they had an opportunity to go on and win it and of course that didn’t work out.

People tend not to risk things when they are ahead. It’s easy when you have nothing to lose, you can throw caution to the wind. But when you are in the lead and you have to go on and achieve something, it’s difficult.

And in Liverpool’s case it’s not just anyone who is chasing them but it’s Manchester City, one of the best teams in Premier League history.

The mentality to cope with this kind of pressure comes from the manager. Klopp has been through it all before, as he has won leagues in Germany.

If Liverpool do get over the line this season, this year will only be the start for them, but they still have a long way to go.

Herald