Usually when a TV analyst goes on a long rant about what's wrong with one team or another, you just kind of tune him out and let him froth. When that analyst is Jamie Carragher, though, and he's railing on Liverpool and players that he stood next to not all that long ago, you sit up and listen.
"Liverpool aren’t being beaten by quality, they’re getting bullied. They’re getting beaten by enthusiasm," the former Liverpool star said on Sky Sports after today's brutal loss to Crystal Palace. "This is more than just a poor start, there’s something wrong. Something’s not right, they’re getting bullied out of games."
You know what? He's right. Carra is dead right. It's been happening all year long: Liverpool play decently, then their opponent punches them in the mouth a few times and they just kind of curl up and die. That's maybe a dramatic way of putting it, but it seems apt when you look at the results.
Manchester City. Aston Villa. West Ham. Hull City. Newcastle. Chelsea. Today against Palace. Each and every one of those matches follow that exact pattern. Even in years past under Brendan Rodgers, it was a problem for stretches of the season, but Liverpool were able to find other answers and the wider results masked the problem. The fans are tired of seeing it, and so too is Carragher.
"As a fan watching your own team the worst thing you can ever think of them is being bullied and being weak – that’s what we saw from Liverpool and not for the first time. It’s been going on all season.
"There’s no leadership and we had that last season at the end, it cost Liverpool the league. They conceded 50 goals last season. It hasn’t been rectified with the money that’s been spent and I’m very worried now as a Liverpool fan.
"There’s no men in the team. There’s not enough organising. You can’t always play well, it doesn’t happen like that, but sometimes you’ve got to grind results out. A game like that is a perfect illustration of that.
"Very rarely, if ever over the past few years, do Liverpool play poorly and win."
Scathing words from Carragher, but they're also words that are painfully, terrifyingly true. He went on to criticize the quality of the signings, saying how damning it is that Liverpool spent all that money but still need four or five players with how things have shaken out, but those quotes above are the real meat of Carra's stumping.
And again, he's right. There's no leadership on the pitch. Steven Gerrard is the captain, but he's doing very little visible leading on the pitch, and certainly his performances aren't doing anything to inspire these days. Jordan Henderson is too busy trying to cover others' mistakes to lead. Dejan "20 million pounds of leadership" Lovren has proved to be anything but.
Obviously, if Liverpool were winning, that lack of leadership wouldn't be nearly as big of an issue, but with the season and quality of performance sliding further and further away, that void shines ever brighter. How much of these problems lie at the feet of Brendan Rodgers and how much belongs to his players is tough to determine, but either way, they need to get fixed fast if Liverpool are going to find success this season.