Liverpool striker Rickie Lambert insists the players have to stand up and be counted as manager Brendan Rodgers cannot shoulder all the blame for their dismal season so far.
In the aftermath of Sunday’s defeat at Crystal Palace – a fourth in succession – the Reds boss said he accepted his job is on the line if things do not turn around.
However, Lambert insisted the players owed it to their manager to start taking responsibility.
“Most of the players know what the gaffer said. It is full credit that Brendan said that but it was totally down to the players,” he said ahead of a crucial Champions League tie against Ludogorets in Bulgaria.
“They are desperate to get the game under way and try to rectify our performance at the weekend.
“First and foremost we are focusing on our performance. Win or lose we have to put in a performance of the standard of a Liverpool team.”
In the wake of the loss at Selhurst Park former defender Jamie Carragher criticised the side for a lack of mental and physical toughness.
“You look at the time and there are no men in the team. Sometimes you’ve got to grind results out,” Carragher told Sky Sports. “There’s no leadership on the pitch. Liverpool aren’t getting beat by quality – they’re getting bullied.”
Lambert found it difficult to argue with that. “We lost the individual battles and it wasn’t good enough,” said the £4 million summer signing from Southampton, who is likely to start in Sofia in the absence of the injured Mario Balotelli, having finally got off the mark for his new club against Palace.
“There wasn’t anyone in a Liverpool shirt who was good enough and it was wholly down to the players on the pitch.
“I do believe it is a lack of confidence at the minute but that will come back.
“We will get back up the league and performing to the way we know.
“It is not going ideally but it is up to the players on the pitch to ‘dog’ the performances out.
“Whatever the result in any game, we have to perform better than we did at the weekend.”
Manager Brendan Rodgers has a decision to make over captain Steven Gerrard after admitting he cannot play three games in a week at the required level and fellow midfielder Jordan Henderson is back after illness.
Provisional squad: Mignolet, Johnson, Skrtel, Lovren, Moreno, Gerrard, Can, Henderson, Allen, Sterling, Lambert, Lallana, Jones, Manquillo, Toure, Enrique, Lucas, Markovic, Coutinho, Borini.