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FIRST came the crushing disappointment, then followed the quiet reflection; now the time has arrived for Liverpool to continue their fight back.
After being flattened at Manchester City six days ago, fears started to mount that obituaries would be written about the Reds before summer had passed – those worries were exacerbated in Turkey on Thursday night when Roy Hodgson's men stood on the brink against Trabzonspor.
It can only be speculated what might have happened had Liverpool been eliminated from the Europa League before that competition really started but there is no doubting that getting the job done in the Huseyin Avni Aker Stadium has lifted the mood around the club.
“It was vital to win for the psychological feeling coming into the West Brom game – it also gives us a psychological boost because you don't want to go into it staring at three bad results on the trot,” Roy Hodgson pointed out before boarding flight BLE989 yesterday morning.
“Every time you step into a difficult situation and step up to the plate you take that next step. We went about the task in the right way. Now It will be nice to be at home again and hopefully get the other players back into the fray as well. Believe me, this was a very, very good victory.”
Having used a skeleton squad in Trabzon, Hodgson will recall star names Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard tomorrow when Liverpool resume Premier League duties.
There is also sure to be a place somewhere for Milan Jovanovic, who was given the chance to catch his breath in midweek after a frantic start to life as a Liverpool player and taking a break meant he was also able to take stock off recent events.
When he shuffled out of the away dressing room on Monday evening, the expression that the Serbian international sported left you with no illusions how badly he had taken being on the end of such a demoralising experience.
Brow furrowed and eyes heavy, Jovanovic could not accept that Liverpool were City's inferiors by three goals and the more he has thought about it, the more he believes it was personal failings as opposed to individual brilliance that contributed to the final score.
No wonder, then, that the man who arrived at Anfield on free transfer from Standard Liege is itching to return to the fray and build on some encouraging early appearances; enthusiastic and energetic, it is easy to see Jovanovic becoming a popular figure with supporters.
That he also speaks with sense, passion and reason adds to the perception he can flourish in these parts; Liverpool's number 14 came here to sample success and one reverse – heavy though it might have been – has not shaken his confidence.
“It was so disappointing,” he said. “In the first half, we know we could have been better. We didn't keep possession as well as we can and that meant we didn't get control of the game. They scored a lucky goal because we made mistakes.
“After they got in front, it wasn't the same game. When it got to 2-0 and 3-0, it was very difficult and we couldn't comeback, even though we tried. Is there a gap? My feeling on the game is that we were unlucky.
“But this is only after two games. There is a long way to go in the season and we have plenty of time to come back. We will be stronger after this defeat, I am sure. We have lost one battle but we have not lost the war.
“There is a good atmosphere and a good feeling at the club. I am really grateful to everyone for helping me feel so welcome. The coach, the players, everybody has been brilliant. When I get more practice and I am fitter, I am confident that I can help this team.
“I have never doubted my ability. I want to adapt. This will be another hard game because every team wants to try and beat Liverpool. Every team sees us as a trophy. That is something we have to deal with – I know we will.”
Though Jovanovic had offers at various stages last winter from Real Madrid and AC Milan, his heart was always set on joining Liverpool and you could see during his debut against Arsenal how much he wants to win.
“I am trying to adapt all the time,” said Jovanovic, whose spirits have been lifted further by the arrival on Merseyside of his wife and two sons, Lazar and Dusan.
“But how I am is not important. The important thing is that we get our first win of the season. I have got to use every minute and every small chance and every game for Liverpool to show I deserve to be here.”