Liverpool defender Glen Johnson accepts it is inevitable the players will be criticised when they fail to reach the high standards they have set themselves.
The goalless FA Cup quarter-final draw at home to mid-table Championship side Blackburn was so alien to what fans have become accustomed to since the turn of the year that there were some grumbles at Anfield.
Brendan Rodgers’ side are unbeaten in the Premier League since January 1 and playing football that is approaching their free-flowing best from last season, but such displays have set a high benchmark which is not always easy to achieve.
Rovers stuck to their game plan of nullifying the threat of Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana, Liverpool’s two playmakers behind the striker, and were rewarded with a replay next month at Ewood Park – where they have already beaten Swansea and Stoke in the competition.
“That’s football. You aren’t going to play to the best of your ability in every game,” said Johnson.
“Whether you play well or not, the most important thing is that you don’t go out of the cup. We’re still in the draw and we can still win the tie.
“It was frustrating. Everyone wanted to win the game but the most important thing is that we’re in the hat for the semi-finals.
“You’ve got to give Blackburn a lot of credit because they worked hard. They got men behind the ball.
“Hopefully we’ll play better in the replay and get the win we want.
“The fixture list isn’t too crowded for us now so having a replay isn’t a big problem.
“We’ve got plenty of time on the training ground in between matches to work on things now.
“We’re still confident we can go through. Hopefully we can pick up our performance and go through in the replay.”
Blackburn’s performance was not just a resilient one as for a long period in the first half they dominated the match – despite having made seven changes – but what did not help Liverpool was the state of the Anfield pitch, which is in desperate need of an overhaul.
“It slowed us down a bit but we can’t make excuses. We just didn’t play to our best. That happens sometimes. They played well and made it tough,” added Johnson.
“Without doubt it’s the worst it’s been during my time at Liverpool. It’s the same pitch for both sides. You have to watch your touch more because it bobbles so much and it’s harder for the likes of Philippe and Raheem (Sterling) to dribble with the ball.
“It slows everything down because the bounce is so irregular. It’s different every time.
“It takes a bit more concentration and it’s harder to play one touch football which is what you need to open these teams up from around the box.”
Reds boss Rodgers believes they may have been lacking a spark after their exertions in the two Premier League games in the preceding week.
“Big credit has to go to my players on the back of a tough week of games,” said the Reds boss.
“The objective in this game was to make sure we were in the hat for the semi-final. We didn’t quite win it but we are still in there.”