After 77 minutes of this contest, it felt like most of Anfield stood up.
Not to hail their team’s performance — those days are long gone — but to head for the exits, in order to show the club’s hierarchy that £77 for a match-day ticket in the newly refurbished Anfield is beyond the pale.
And they are right.
Especially when their team squander matches and points and respect and affection as quickly as Liverpool did in this contest.
Before that 77th minute, Liverpool had been the better team — but only just — and had a 2-0 lead courtesy of goals from the industrious Roberto Firmino and the hitherto poor Adam Lallana.
Radicalism and Merseyside have a long and proud relationship and with 13 minutes to go, approximately 15,000 took to their feet to show Ian Ayre and his boardroom pals what they thought about being charged such exorbitant amounts to watch 22 men kick a bag of air about.
Liverpool’s players might as well have followed them.
Firstly, Adam Johnson hit a competent — but no more — free-kick that squirmed past Simon Mignolet before Jermain Defoe, wily old fox that he is, turned the execrable Mamadou Sakho and equalised with the last kick of the match.
“That could be a huge point,” Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce said.
“There is an awful long way to go, but a point here is precious, especially under the circumstances we got it. If we can recreate that never say die spirit then we have a got chance of surviving.”
Meanwhile, amidst all the Anfield gloom, four miles away Allardyce’s counterpart Jurgen Klopp was lying in the Sefton Suite at Aintree Hospital recovering from surgery after having his appendix removed.
Yet it is the soul of Liverpool Football Club that is up for grabs at the moment — and no amount of Klopp’s charm or effervescence can disguise the fact that they are still to click under his tutelage.
“We’ve only got ourselves to blame,” goalscorer Lallana said.
“We probably dropped a bit too deep as a team and didn’t continue doing what we were doing in the second half to get the goals.
“At 2-0 the lads were confident, so it’s very disappointing to concede two late goals.”
Lallana at least had the good grace not to blame Klopp’s absence for the draw and made little mention of the protest that must have affected the players.
“Everything was the same, the manager was present last night but obviously he had to be rushed off to be seen to,” he said.
“Hopefully he’s well and recovering but it’s a shame we couldn’t get the result for him today “It’s now as simple as working as hard as we’ve been working, even harder.”
Liverpool were just about worth their 2-0 lead before it all went wrong although the first half was as poor an example of Premier League football as can be imagined.
After the restart, Liverpool had more fire and fight in their minds and legs and Firmino’s header from a Milner cross after 59 minutes was direct and effective.
When Lallana tapped home Firmino’s cross 11 minutes later, it should have been game over and the fact it was not can be attributed to a combination of Sunderland tenacity and a shameful lack of concentration from the home side.
Those supporters who left after 77 minutes will not be surprised to hear their team frittered away their advantage yet in the end. Who knows, the dismal showing might put more pressure on the Liverpool hierarchy to drop their ludicrous pricing structure.
Because Anfield, grand old cathedral that it is, deserves far more than that type of performance.
Klopp is expected to make a fast and full recovery from his appendicitis bout but, not for the first time this season, he will be feeling sick to his stomach for a host of reasons.
Perhaps even 77 of them.
Mignolet 5; Clyne 6, Lovren 5 (Toure 12, 6), Sakho 4, Moreno 5; Henderson 7, Can 6; Allen 5 (Ibe 45, 6), Lallana 7, Milner 6; Firmino 8.
Ward, Benteke, Sturridge, Lucas, Flanagan.
Mannone 7; Jones 6 (Yedlin 75), Kone 6, O’Shea 7, van Aanholt 6; Kirchhoff 6 (Johnson 66); Watmore 6 (N’Doye 24, 5), M’Vila 6, Cattermole 5, Khazri 5; Defoe 5.
Pickford, Brown, Rodwell, Toivonen.