I NEVER tire of being surprised at myself for being surprised by the changing of the seasons. Like a dog with no real sense of itself or the past.

Oh look, how wild is that wind? How hot is that sun. How brown are those falling leaves? Aren’t these showers abundant in April?

It’s getting slightly lighter in the mornings now. Another surprise to me. Never saw it coming. But like the dog, I intuitively sense winter’s fading.

The darkness, when it comes, seems to hang around for so long. Those black mornings roll in one night and then seem to stay indefinitely. Like bastard uninvited guests.

It’s always darkest before the dawn.

Isn’t it just.

Winter. The cold. The dark. Seems so relentless. So unending.

I’ve been watching Liverpool lose football matches for an awfully long time. Decades. You would think I’d get used to it. How it all plays out. You’d think I’d have coping strategies.

KINGSTON-UPON-HULL, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 4, 2017: Liverpool players looks dejected as Hull City score the opening goal after a fumble by goalkeeper Simon Mignolet during the FA Premier League match at the KCOM Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Actually, I do have some coping strategies. They only partially work, but still. I’m a firm believer that if you’re suffering emotional pain and you can’t do anything to affect the root cause of that pain — and losing a football match is not something you can practically do anything about — then the only palliative is to give yourself a treat. Be as kind to yourself as you possibly can.

My wife Michaela has goaded me with hypotheticals such as “what would you do if I died?”

A heavy one, and I know it’s an invitation to pay rich tribute, but I can’t help but look into the middle distance and think about what I’d actually do. I’m transported in my mind to Euro Disney. I’m playing the tables in Vegas. I’m tucking into the world’s best burger at Junior’s of Brooklyn. I’m being good to myself.

Michaela might argue that I’m acting out most of my life in this way — the pursuit of my own gratification and convenience — already. This is probably true. I’m pre-emptively compensating myself for the wretched disappointment that is mortality.

I protect myself from the pain of Liverpool losing in a number of ways. Firstly, I bet voraciously. I bet always against the Mighty Reds. Money cannot take away the hurting if and when Liverpool are defeated but it can help form a distraction. And you see, kids, that distraction is really what I’m on about here. You don’t like Liverpool losing, I don’t like Liverpool losing. The way to deal with that is to stop thinking about Liverpool. And losing.

I don’t begin to understand the mindset of many fellow fans who enjoy the post-defeat inquest. The people who want to watch Match of the Day just so that they can identify the culprits behind the concession of the third and fourth goals. Those who welcome the pub conversation on a Saturday night that starts with the rhetorical enquiry ‘how shit were we?’

You will rarely find me down the boozer on a Saturday evening after a defeat. Don’t come looking for me there. You will find me in a Chinese restaurant. In the bosom of my family. Planning holidays, talking about movies, books and better times. You might even find me doing some work. Anything really that doesn’t involve the colour red, green grass, orbs or words with two Ls and two Os in them.

KINGSTON-UPON-HULL, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 4, 2017: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho Correia walk off dejected after losing 2-0 to Hull City during the FA Premier League match at the KCOM Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I do know what to do in defeat, then. I have ‘go to’ remedies. What I cannot console myself with is the true fact, that as surely as day follows night, as spring arrives before summer, that Liverpool FC will one day win another football match.

A win.

What a thing that was. That feeling. I’ve known it so often. Far more than I’ve known defeat. And yet, once taken away from the land of the wins and planted in the countryside of defeats I lose all memory of victory. I can’t smell it, can’t recall the endorphin rush, the satisfaction, the pride. None of it. It’s like I’m a winning virgin. I’m all brand new. Just right now, I’m a defeat guy. I’ve heard about those winning folks. They seem so very happy. I’ll never be one of them.

It’s getting just a tiny bit brighter in the mornings. It’s still too fucking dark, though. It’ll never get properly light, and warm again, will it?

It’s always darkest before the dawn.

That’s what Jürgen Klopp will be saying to the Redmen in Saturday’s dressing room as they prepare to face Tottenham Hotspur. Unlike me, these lads can choose not to lose. They can do something about all of this. They can change the seasons. They can play god. They can play like gods.

God, they could play like gods.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 27, 2016: Liverpool's James Milner celebrates scoring the first goal against Tottenham Hotspur from the penalty spot during the FA Premier League match at White Hart Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Was Autumn all just a dream? Did that Liverpool that stormed to the summit of the Premier League playing football from another world really happen? Pull up the old fixture list. Look at the pre-Christmas results — 4-3 at Arsenal, 2-1 at Chelsea, 4-1 v Leicester, 5-1 v Hull, 6-1 v Watford. And on, and on. It was no dream.

Those performances, those lads. Those magnificent incarnations of red warriors can’t have been frauds. They can’t just have been sent down to deceive us. To raise us up so high only to send us crashing down so low.

Klopp knows Liverpool must win again. He knows Liverpool will win again. I think even my two dogs know this, even if I don’t.

It’s always darkest before the dawn.

Reds to shake off seasonal affective disorder: Karius; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Lucas, Milner; Henderson, Wijnaldum, Lallana; Coutinho, Mane, Firmino.

Kick-Off: 5.30pm live on BT Sport 1

Last Match: Tottenham Hotspur 1 Liverpool 1

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Odds: Liverpool 13-10, Draw 5-2, Tottenham 5-2

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Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo

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