Liverpool FC players
need to stop sulking
Comment by Ian Rush - Liverpool Echo
Liverpool managed a feat on Monday that
many would have thought impossible – they lost twice on the
same night. If it was not bad enough seeing Wigan Athletic
take three precious points, the defeat at the DW Stadium
effectively saw us relinquish pole position in the race for
the Champions League; things, from this moment, are going to
be exceptionally hard.
The problem with which Liverpool are faced now is the fact
Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa all have
games in hand and all know they can lose on the run-in
without it unduly affecting their position in the table.
It’s difficult to explain why things fell apart at Wigan. I
honestly expected Liverpool to go there full of confidence,
win and set themselves up to get a couple more victories
over Lille and Portsmouth.
We couldn’t have wished for a bigger incentive, either, than
knowing those three points would have lifted us back into
the top four but, as things stand, the prospects of
returning to the Champions League are dwindling quite
How, then, does Rafa Benitez turn the tide? He has got to do
everything in his power to lift the squad as if they are
starting to feel sorry for themselves, they really won’t
finish fourth – teams that sulk head in only one direction.
I still believe there is sufficient talent at Anfield to get
us out of this tight spot and maybe we need to get into the
mindset where teams worry about us, rather than us worrying
about keeping things tight.
Should we start showing a bit more adventure going forward
and the players have just got to roll their sleeves up, work
hard and believe they can do it.
There is no point rounding on the manager or the squad now;
I’ve said all along that the time for inquests and analysis
should be once the final ball of the campaign has been
kicked. Doing it now only gets in the way.
Finishing fourth is going to be hard enough without everyone
turning on one another and it’s not the Liverpool way to
After all, there are still 27 points to play for – but if
there is a sense the players believe we will struggle to get
every single one, we might not even finish in the top six
Champions League chase?
It looked more like
a relegation fight for Liverpool at Wigan
Comment by Mark Lawrenson - Liverpool Daily Post
Never mind going for the Champions League
– Liverpool played like a team trying to avoid getting
relegated at Wigan the other night.
And this negative mindset where you try to make yourself
tough to beat before you try to go out and win a game
finally came crashing down at the DW Stadium.
For starters, that policy means that you have to make sure
you get everything spot on, stay disciplined and
Basically, there’s very little room for switching off and
making errors – and the one from Dirk Kuyt that led to Hugo
Rodallega’s winning goal was a real howler.
Which wouldn’t have been a problem if this current Liverpool
team knew how to respond – but they are just bereft of
Wigan goalkeeper Chris Kirkland didn’t have to make a save
of any sort of quality. He was put under a worrying lack of
And the number of times Liverpool passed it back rather than
forward was frightening. That just immediately cuts down
your options when you get the ball.
When you play a team that really is threatened with
relegation, how can you not be committing players to get
beyond their midfielders. What’s the point in even turning
It was telling that Rafael Benitez, for once, criticised his
players’ attitude and approach to the game. In truth, there
was very little else he could do given the quality of that
And he could hardly blame the pitch, however bad it was – it
was newly laid so it was the same for both teams.
But I think that was also an attempt to deflect a bit of the
attention away from himself. He was one of many people
involved at Anfield who made mistakes on Monday night.
The set-up of the team was worrying from the outset with
Steven Gerrard far too deep. You never felt that Liverpool
were going to exert any pressure and score. Alarmingly, you
could never have said the same about Wigan – they could have
No wonder Gerrard looks visibly frustrated with the whole
situation. When that’s clear to see during a game, you know
you’ve got problems.
So yet again, it’s another week of asking, ‘where do
Liverpool go from here?’
Well for starters, it’s time to ditch this nonsense about
holding on to what you have and being hard to beat. It’s
time to commit players now and go for victories, there’s no
The lateness of the reaction at Wigan was extremely
disappointing but the reaction to the defeat has to be
instant at Lille on Thursday, similarly at home to
Portsmouth on Monday.
But I honestly don’t think you can finish fourth by trying
not to lose games.
I remain optimistic of Benitez leading his side to the top
four simply because I believe that the likes of Spurs and
Manchester City will run into their own problems in the
remaining away games they have left.
So let’s get that glass half full for a change, and give
Gerrard and Torres the best possible chance to make an
impact in games.
Sometimes you lose when you’re trying to win, sometimes you
go for it and get beat.
But what’s the difference? This Liverpool side is getting it
so badly wrong that they’re trying not to lose games – and
still losing them anyway!
shedding tears for Rafa
Roberto Martinez does not feel too much
sympathy for Rafa Benitez as he believes there are "too many
managers worried at the moment".
Wigan secured only their second victory against 'big four'
opposition with a 1-0 win over Liverpool at the DW Stadium.
Wigan's performance heaped more pressure on Benitez, who had
appeared to have weathered the storm after early exits from
the title race, Champions League and FA Cup.
It left sixth-placed Liverpool's pursuit of Champions League
qualification precariously placed with just nine matches of
their campaign remaining.
But Martinez was not too concerned for his fellow Spaniard,
saying: "Rafa doesn't need my sympathy because he is too
talented to be worried.
"I think there are too many managers worried at the moment
for me to sympathise with anyone.
"It is quite clear there are still many games. Liverpool
have been playing a certain way for a long time now and they
have huge experience in their ranks.
"Liverpool, in my eyes, are an outstanding team and I don't
see them being too far away from the top four."
The Wigan boss did, however, admit he did not think last
night's win over the Merseysiders was unexpected considering
the scrutiny Benitez's side are under.
"I wouldn't say it was a surprise they struggled," he added.
"When you put that extra pressure on Liverpool, everyone
wants to beat them and with their style people can work
tactically against that.
"You always get good and bad performances but I think the
Premier League is extremely exciting this season: three
teams competing for the title, four teams for fourth place
and eight teams to avoid relegation."
Down but not out
By James Carroll - LFC Official Website
Ryan Babel admits Liverpool were left
bitterly disappointed by Monday's 1-0 defeat at Wigan
Athletic – but the Dutchman insists the Reds' top four
prospects shouldn't be written off.
Hugo Rodallega's first-half goal condemned Rafael Benitez's
side to their first ever loss against the Latics and ensured
they remain in sixth position in
the Barclays Premier League table - a point behind Tottenham
Hotspur and Manchester City, both of whom have games in
Babel acknowledges Liverpool's frustration at the reversal,
but the forward, who was a second-half substitute at the DW
Stadium, is confident the Reds can embark on another
morale-boosting run as the season enters its latter stages.
"I think we made it difficult for ourselves," he said. "In
the first half especially, there was space to play football
but we failed to do it.
"Then they scored and it was difficult because they were
staying behind the ball. In any away game it is hard to
score two goals.
"We definitely still have faith we can get fourth place. It
will be harder and it's important to get three points in
every game, as it was before Wigan. That's why it is so
disappointing to have lost.
"It is frustrating that we had built up some confidence by
winning games, but one game can spoil the confidence.
"The disappointment is very big for everybody, but we have
to start again."
Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez spoke of his dissatisfaction
following the defeat at the DW Stadium - pinpointing a
sloppy first-half display as a key reason for the reversal.
Babel admits the manager did not say much in the dressing
room after the final whistle, though the 23-year-old
revealed players and staff will review tapes of the game at
Melwood on Tuesday.
"We will analyse the game and then we will know what his
thoughts are," he said.
Liverpool resume action on Thursday with a trip to France to
take on Lille in the first leg of the last 16 Europa League
tie - and Babel is certain he and his teammates will be
He added: "We have another important game on Thursday, so we
have to be ready and prepared.
"We cannot be disappointed for too long. We will analyse and
watch videos, like we always do, and I am sure we will be
good for the game."
Another inept display
just raises more questions
Comment by Ian Doyle - Liverpool Daily Post
Never mind the new pitch, Liverpool laid
out the red carpet for Wigan Athletic last night.
An utterly woeful performance from Rafael Benitez’s side saw
them slip to defeat at the DW Stadium and suffer a
devastating blow to their hopes of Champions League
Knowing victory would move them back into fourth place,
Liverpool were architects of their own downfall as Hugo
Rodallega’s 35th-minute strike was enough to deepen the
gloom at Anfield.
That it was Wigan’s first-ever victory over Liverpool at the
12th attempt said everything about a truly shockingly inept
display that raises serious questions about the rest of the
campaign and beyond.
Liverpool clearly don’t like Mondays, having not won on the
first day of the working week since 2001 – a sequence of
And they never convinced that statistic would be altered
here, Roberto Martinez increasing the pressure on his
Spanish compatriot by masterminding a famous
Liverpool couldn’t even use the playing surface as an
excuse, Wigan having laid down a completely fresh pitch in
response to complaints over the previous turf.
No. This defeat was purely down to talent, teamwork and
desire. And over the full 90 minutes – and in particular a
pathetic first half – Liverpool didn’t show
anywhere near enough.
Benitez will come in for some heavy criticism with the
result again sparking debate over whether his time at
Anfield is coming to an ignominious close.
But the Liverpool manager was right to afterwards berate the
character and attitude of his players, particularly given an
opening 45 minutes that made the stunned visiting supporters
question whether the team were even aware of the team’s
Sure, for the second time in three Premier League games
Liverpool accrued five bookings, suggesting determination
and bodies being put on the line.
Yet the yellow cards shown to Steven Gerrard and Fernando
Torres were out of frustration at the general malaise, the
stellar duo as guilty as anyone for this
On this evidence, Liverpool can forget fourth place. Indeed,
they will struggle to earn a berth in the Europa League if
there are any more repeats of an evening that should not be
Where is the guile? Where is the imagination? Where is the
creativity? And with last night’s return of Glen Johnson,
injuries can no longer be used as
a possible excuse.
The statistics make for grim reading.
Before the game, Wigan were in freefall having won just one
of their previous 13 top-flight games, scoring just twice in
their last seven outings.
With the Latics having kept just five clean sheets in 27
league fixtures this season, the opportunity was there for
Benitez’s side to improve on a poor scoring record that had
seen them fail to net in five of their last seven away
Liverpool have given themselves so little margin for error
in the race for Champions League qualification that every
game is built up into a must-win, the tension restricting
the players to produce and resulting in far too many dour,
desperate, incident-free encounters.
And with Wigan teetering just above the relegation zone,
it’s small wonder there were so many empty seats at a
chilly, miserable DW Stadium. Even the half-time pies
weren’t up to much.
The decisive moment had come 10 minutes before then, with
Wigan scoring their first goal in more than six hours.
They still required a helping hand from Liverpool in
creating the opening, Dirk Kuyt catching his own defence
off-guard by playing a pass straight to the feet of Emmerson
Boyce on the right flank, who instantly crossed into the
centre where Rodallega, having ghosted in front of Javier
Mascherano, prodded in past Pepe Reina.
The manner of the goal was perhaps no surprise, given the
number of times Liverpool coughed up possession during the
Up until that point, the most intriguing aspect of a chronic
match was that Wigan’s former Liverpool goalkeeper Chris
Kirkland had somehow managed to avoid injury.
To be fair, the visitors did have a few openings.
After a deceiving bright start, a Gerrard corner was cleared
by Marcelo Moreno to Maxi Rodriguez, and the Argentine
headed back to the far post where Torres struck the outside
of the woodwork from six yards.
And on 27 minutes, a rare incisive move saw Yossi Benayoun
fed by Kuyt, dance around Maynor Figueroa but elect to cut
the ball back instead of shooting, Gerrard rushed into an
eventually harmless effort.
But too often their movement was non-existent, epitomised by
one moment when Gerrard, accepting possession near the
halfway line, looked up and flailed his arms in frustration
at finding precisely no Liverpool players making any runs
Matters did improve marginally after falling behind. Torres
headed over a good Rodriguez cross and, shortly after the
break, fired wastefully over from a decent position after
being found by the same player.
But only the alertness of Sotirios Kyrgiakos, back after
serving his domestic three-match suspension, prevented Wigan
scoring a ridiculous second on 59 minutes.
In defending a long ball, Jamie Carragher took command of
the situation ahead of Reina but smacked his clearance at
Moreno, Kyrgiakos racing back
to head clear off the line.
With Liverpool pressing forward and the home team dangerous
on the counter-attack, the game almost became mildly
But despite the encouragement of Wigan’s inability to shut
up shop, Benitez’s side struggled to test Kirkland.
And Wigan almost snatched a second on 73 minutes when Reina
did enough to divert an N’Zogbia cross away from goal and a
sliding Paul Scharnercouldn’t quite divert the ball in at
the far post.
Moments later, Kuyt nodded down a fine Emiliano Insua cross
but the volley from Torres dropped the wrong side of the
post for Liverpool.
And while Alberto Aquilani and Ryan Babel were brought on to
fleetingly raise hopes of an equaliser, Wigan always looked
the more likely to extend
Any more of this and it’s not a new pitch that Liverpool
Benitez questions attitude
By James Riach - Sky Sports
Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez was
disappointed with his team's attitude after their defeat to
The Reds were beaten 1-0 at the DW Stadium in a Premier
League tie that could prove influential in the race for a
top-four finish come the end of the season.
Liverpool had looked to have turned the corner in recent
weeks after a poor run of form, but a woeful performance
that lacked creativity in the final third will give hope to
their rivals in a hunt for a UEFA Champions League spot.
Hugo Rodallega got the only goal of the game on 35 minutes,
slotting home an Emmerson Boyce cross from the right after
Dirk Kuyt surrendered possession.
And Benitez had no qualms about the result after the final
"We have to be really disappointed, after a defeat you
always cannot be happy," he told Sky Sports.
"In the first-half we didn't do anything, (we were) giving
the ball away, not winning any first or second balls.
"It's difficult to explain. The second-half a much better
attitude but it wasn't enough.
"It's difficult to explain. I think it's a question of
attitude in the first-half.
"I think that the players in the second-half showed
character. I think sometimes we were playing too quick, but
at least we showed character, in the first-half we didn't
When asked about Wigan's performance, Benitez remarked: "I
think that they were working very hard from the beginning to
the end. We expected this."
Liverpool's position in the quest for a top-four finish is
hurt by the fact that they have now played more games than
any other side in contention.
But Benitez, who promised that he would lead the Anfield
outfit to a Champions League berth earlier in the campaign,
insists they will not give up.
He added: "We have to keep going. We have an important game
on Thursday (against Lille) and then we have to keep going,
keep winning games if we can.
"We had some chances but we didn't play well."
When asked what the atmosphere was like in the dressing room
after the game, he said: "Everybody was really low."
Hugo hits Reds'
Hugo Rodallega's eighth Premier League
goal of the season put a huge dent in Liverpool's top-four
hopes as Wigan won 1-0 at the DW Stadium.
The Colombia international volleyed home Emmerson Boyce's
35th-minute cross after Dirk Kuyt had needlessly given away
possession close to his ownpenalty area.
Liverpool showed little of the quality required for a place
in the Champions League once Fernando Torres had hit a post
in the eighth minute and the Latics were well worth their
It was Wigan's first Premier League win over Liverpool and
only their second over one of the so-called 'big four' - the
other coming at home to Chelsea earlier this season.
That ended a run of seven league matches without a victory
and lifted them four points clear of the relegation zone.
And while it was only sixth-placed Liverpool's second defeat
in 11 games it could have done irreparable damage to their
chances of finishing fourth as they have now played more
games than all of their rivals.
Rafael Benitez's side's problems are clear to see as this
was the sixth time in their last eight away league matches
they have failed to score.
The closest they came in this game was when Torres hit the
outside of the upright after Maxi Rodriguez's header from
Steven Gerrard's corner dropped to him at the far post.
But Wigan quickly grew in confidence and Marcelo Moreno was
only inches from connecting with a driven cross through the
six-yard area by Charles N'Zogbia, who was causing left-back
Emiliano Insua plenty of problems.
Rodallega curled over a 20-yard free-kick after being fouled
by Lucas Leiva while Insua's difficulties against N'Zogbia
continued as he was booked for bringing down his opponent in
Gerrard could have opened the scoring in the 26th minute
after good link play between Rodriguez, Kuyt and Yossi
Benayoun but the England international's first shot was
blocked by Paul Scharner and although he quickly recovered
he could not hit the target with the follow-up.
Lucas was next to be booked for tripping Titus Bramble and
Sotirios Kyrgiakos was also cautioned for cynically blocking
Liverpool were struggling to find any sort of rhythm and
their alarming tendency to give the ball away proved
expensive in the 35th minute.
Kuyt, deep position on the left, rolled the ball aimlessly
to Boyce who instantly fired a cross to the far post where
Rodallega poked home.
It was the first time the Reds had conceded in the opening
45 minutes of a league match for 11 games.
Bramble was then booked for clattering into the back of
Torres, who headed over Rodriguez's cross from six yards
just before half-time.
Within 42 seconds of the second half kicking-off Mascherano
had to be quick to block Rodallega's shot.
At the other end Torres, unusually for him, failed to hit
the target from Rodriguez's cut-back.
Ten minutes into the half Johnson replaced Lucas, with
Mascherano returning to his favoured central midfield.
Liverpool almost gifted Wigan a second as Jose Reina came
out to claim a through-ball only for Carragher to knock it
past him and then smashed his clearance into Moreno.
The ball looped towards the goal only for Kyrgiakos to get
back to head over his own crossbar.
However, Liverpool were not getting any better and Torres'
ambitious 25-yard volley summed things up when it went out
for a throw close to the right corner flag.
Wigan should have had a second in the 73rd minute when
Rodallega's pass put N'Zogbia through but his shot was
partially stopped by Reina and Johnson scrambled the ball
out at the far post under pressure from Scharner.
Moments later Torres' volley from Kuyt's header down rolled
agonisingly wide of the post.
Liverpool's frustrations boiled over as first the Spain
international was booked after chasing Boyce half the length
of the pitch to bring him down and then Gerrard was then
cautioned for diving in on McCarthy, despite appearing to
win the ball.
A sign of Liverpool's desperation could been seen in the
five minutes of injury time when Kyrgiakos went to play up
It typified a night when the Reds' short-comings this season
were laid bare by an industrious but by no means brilliant