Under-fire Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admitted his team lacked a killer touch in front of goal as they crumbled to defeat at Manchester United in Barclays Premier League action on Sunday.
Just nine months after Rodgers strutted out of Old Trafford following a 3-0 win, his team lost to their biggest rivals by the same margin thanks to goals from Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Robin van Persie.
Gary Neville, Ronnie Whelan and Robbie Fowler criticised Liverpool this week and Rodgers’ critics will have further ammunition following this latest setback.
Rooney was unmarked as he swept home Antonio Valencia’s pass, and a comical error by B£20million defender Dejan Lovren allowed Van Persie to seal United’s biggest win over their rivals in six years.
Rodgers was more concerned about Liverpool’s attacking play than their defence. The Reds squandered a number of chances, although that was partly due to another excellent performance from David de Gea.
“It epitomised what our season has been,” the Liverpool manager said when asked to reflect on his team’s profligacy.
“They (United) were much more clinical when they needed to be.
“You come here and create so many chances. You would expect to score at least two or three.
“We have nowhere near enough goals in the team and that has put pressure on the team.”
The statistics suggests Rodgers is right.
Liverpool have scored 19 goals so far – 20 fewer than they had managed by this stage last year.
Rodgers feels something else is missing – the “team ethos” which carried the Reds to within two points of their first title in 24 years last term.
“The whole scenario was about looking to build a team again. We want to recapture the team ethos,” the Liverpool boss said when asked about his summer spending spree, which brought nine players to Anfield at a cost of B£115million.
“We had a team that was growing for a couple of years and has changed with injuries.”
Brad Jones, who started ahead of Simon Mignolet at Old Trafford, will continue in goal until the Belgian rediscovers his form.
When asked whether 32-year-old Jones was now his first-choice goalkeeper, Rodgers said: “Yes. I said to Simon it was for an indefinite period.”
Glen Johnson said after the final whistle that he had torn his groin in the first half and he faces a spell on the sidelines.