Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers and captain Steven Gerrard were in total agreement about the side’s performances not being good enough to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League.
A 1-1 draw against Basle in a must-win encounter at Anfield, which saw substitute Lazar Markovic sent off, meant the Reds finished third in Group B and now have to face the Europa League in the new year.
Just five points and five goals in six matches told its own story and Rodgers accepted they had come up short. “We are obviously disappointed to go out. We had earned the right to be in it after a wonderful season last year,” he said.
“Over the course of the games we weren’t good enough, we didn’t get enough points and ultimately went out.
“First half we weren’t good enough. Technically we were way short.
“Our positioning wasn’t good. The second half we were much better on that front. In the last 10 minutes, we just couldn’t find the final pass.”
Gerrard, who scored a free-kick with 10 minutes to go to cancel out Fabian Frei’s first-half opener and set up a grandstand finish, was equally honest about the campaign.
“We haven’t gone out of the competition because of our performance tonight,” he told ITV1. “We’ve gone out because away at Basle we weren’t good enough, in our last game (against Ludogorets) we conceded a stupid goal towards injury time.
“You always qualify over the six games and unfortunately we haven’t been good enough.”
Liverpool were not helped by the harsh dismissal of substitute Markovic, 15 minutes after arriving as a half-time substitute, for flicking an arm in the face of Behrang Safari.
“I thought the sending off was really disappointing decision by the referee,” added Rodgers.
“Lazar Markovic gets sent off for that, his fingernail barely touches the nose of the defender and the defender is the guy who should be looked at for his reaction.
“But we really took the fight to them with 10 men. In that final half hour we were outstanding.
“A lot of decisions tonight were disappointing. It is not the Premier League and we respect that.”
Liverpool, without the injured Daniel Sturridge, have struggled for goals this term. Sturridge, frustrated he could play no part, wrote on Twitter: “We fought hard man. Sat here devastated wishing I could have helped. We’ll come back stronger from this and i’m working hard to do the same.”
Basle coach Paulo Sousa admitted the red card roused Liverpool into a final flourish but he would not comment on the offence.
“It created difficulties for us in the end,” he said. “But it is not for me to contest these decisions. I will not contest what Rodgers says. “From what I hear from my players he (Safari) is not that sort of player.”