Brendan Rodgers should have known only a convincing victory over opposition which last season finished fourth from bottom in a Swiss Super League that in reality is anything but, would be sufficient to prevent another dissection of his management before Sunday’s Merseyside derby.
He might point towards the likelihood that four and not all of his starting XI here will begin at Goodison Park. Yet this was another dispiriting result for Liverpool, one which felt inevitable from the moment Sion’s equaliser crept in with 73 minutes left to play.
The reality of how bad Liverpool were was revealed by the circumstantial context of the team they were facing.
Sion had qualified for the Europa League by winning their domestic cup in May and although this season has begun in a more encouraging manner, last weekend chairman Christian Constantin delivered a withering assessment of the effort made during a 1-0 defeat in Liechtenstein to FC Vaduz, claiming players should be ashamed for accepting their pay.
Briefly – but only briefly – this this augured to be another embarrassing occasion for them. Liverpool had rushed into a lead when Divock Origi’s surging run beyond a succession of markers resulted in an opportunity for Adam Lallana, who added to the goal scored against Bordeaux during Liverpool’s previous Europa League fixture. That it was allowed to stand was fortunate. Lallana was offside in the build up.
Both Danny Ings and Jordon Ibe were denied by a concoction of blocks made in desperation and improvised goalkeeping by the time a winger called Ebenezer seized on the type of charitable defending that has followed Rodgers throughout his reign at Anfield.
Here, it stemmed from a wayward Nathaniel Clyne pass but then, Simon Mignolet’s leaden footwork did not help; nor Joe Gomez’s absenteeism, with Ibe stranded as the last outfielder. Because of such generosity Ebenezer Assifuah was able to toe-poke an equaliser and somewhere, perhaps, Charles Dickens smiled.
Inevitably, Philippe Coutinho was summoned from the bench in the second half– just as he was last Wednesday – when Carlisle were a penalty shoot out away from causing an almighty upset through defending so deep, some of their players were almost in the Kop, as their manager, Keith Curle, admitted.
There was no sense that the Swiss visitors were here to merely spoil Liverpool’s tactics. Origi and Lallana were afforded clear sights of goal but did not display the level of conviction needed to offer Liverpool a lead that probably wouldn’t have been merited anyway.
Graeme Jones, Everton’s assistant manager, watching on behalf of his club ahead of Sunday’s lunchtime encounter across Stanley Park, sat in the directors’ box until he had seen enough, leaving with five minutes to go.
With Liverpool’s faltering like this and the mood at Anfield reflected by a boom of boos at the end, there is unlikely to be many points of concern raised in his report.Reuse content