After their win over Crystal Palace, Brendan Rodgers was widely praised for his post-match comments. The manager acknowledged the importance of the three points, but spent most of his time discussing his disappointment at the style of the performance and the lack of control Liverpool exerted. At home against a side many have tipped for relegation, his sentiment was more than justified, and it appeared to signal a change in Liverpool's approach, one focused on both points and performances.
By that standard yesterday was a clear disappointment, with neither points nor performance to celebrate, and against a side that only had ten men for a good portion of the match, that's simply not good enough. Those expecting Rodgers to highlight that notion were left wanting, however, as he made brief mention of the areas of concern but appeared to be largely pleased with what Liverpool produced:
"It's a little bit of frustration in terms of not getting the three points. But on the back of an international break and with 13 players away and some not coming back until Thursday night, to come over to St James' Park is never an easy place to come. To go behind twice in the game and to come back and then show moments of real quality I was pleased with. It's a point that we'll hopefully look back on at the end of the season and say is a good point having been behind twice. I just felt it was one of those games where we couldn't quite make the breakthrough, but everything that the players put into the game was exceptional. A lot of them have played two international games and played around the world, so I've got no complaints.
"I think what I can look to is that we're not getting cut open as a team. No-one is really playing through us and moving us about. The goals we conceded were disappointing. We conceded from a set-piece against Crystal Palace and it took a wee bit of the gloss off the performance. Today we could do better. Cabaye is a wonderful player and it was a great shot. It dipped at the end, but we can look at that and feel that we can stop it. The second goal was a mistake. We just lost our man and he's nipped in and finished it really well. These are goals that we can avoid, for sure."
It's a well-worn path from Rodgers; tread lightly after losses and disappointing draws while praising team spirit and effort, take a chance after a victory with some more pointed criticism. That's Manager-Speak 101, and it's fairly effective when the aim is maintaining a fairly neutral public perception that won't engender any strong opinion one way or the other.
t least aware of the crisis they're faced with at defending set pieces, and we're left to hope that the message being delivered behind closed doors is more pointed. We have another week to wait to see if anything changes, though, with yesterday's evidence suggesting that it's more than just set pieces that needs attention.