Dalglish defends decision to criticise Liverpool players

 

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has defended his very public criticism of the players after insisting there can be no hiding place from failure.

The Scot diverted from his usual stout defence of the squad to lambast their attitude and lack of application in Saturday's abject 3-1 defeat at struggling Bolton.

In arguably the worst display since Dalglish took over for a second spell a year ago the Reds boss pulled no punches in telling the group any repetition was likely to result in a swift exit.

Because the 60-year-old is usually so protective of his players the hard-hitting comments carried far more resonance and attracted plenty of headlines but he does not regret speaking out.

"I think what was said had to be said," Dalglish explained.

"It's a difficult thing to do but I think it was an honest thing to do as well.

"At the end of the day I don't think anyone can object to the fact that we never played anything like we're capable of playing.

"I don't think anybody can hide behind a performance like we had on Saturday and I don't think anyone would try to do that.

"In the past we've rightly praised them when they've deserved it, we've given them plaudits when we've done well and we've congratulated them for the way they've gone about their work.

"We have to be honest in our appraisal when we've been bad as well.

"When you've been critical it doesn't mean to say you're getting any pleasure from it because at the end of the day we're all in it together.

"It's not the coaching staff and the players, it's everybody."

The woeful display at the Reebok Stadium could not have come at a worse time with two huge matches ahead in the next few days.

Barclays Premier League leaders Manchester City visit Anfield tomorrow as they attempt to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg of their Carling Cup semi-final.

Three days later arch-rivals Manchester United arrive for an FA Cup fourth round tie, an encounter which is always fiery on and off the field but has been given extra spice in the wake of striker Luis Suarez's eight-match ban after being found guilty of racially abusing United's Patrice Evra.

Dalglish suggested one of the reasons his side were so off their game at Bolton was because they were focusing on these games, the first of which could present Liverpool with their first trip to Wembley since 1996 and a first final since their FA Cup triumph six years ago.

But the Scot, wary of what happened at the weekend, will not entertain any mention of Wembley until their place has been secured.

And that is no easy task against a City side who are averaging almost three goals a game in the league this season.

"Let's not be running away with ourselves, let's make sure we get the hard work done first," Dalglish told liverpoolfc.tv.

"We have a slight advantage, we just need to go into the game and compete.

"It's not going to be a game that's going to be anything other than really difficult for us.

"They got a fantastic result on Sunday against Tottenham (winning 3-2) which keeps them at the top of the league, so I'm sure they'll be well up for it.

"For us it's important to do our own job, and if we do that then a bit of luck as well wouldn't go amiss.

"Hopefully it will be a fantastic occasion for everyone."

While they are unbeaten at home this season Liverpool's record at Anfield is disappointing, having drawn seven of 11 league matches.

Those performances have left fans disappointed and Dalglish, having seen a packed away end at the Reebok Stadium empty well before the end, has called on the players to put in a performance which will give supporters something to cheer.

"There'll be loads of support for us but we need to do something that's going to get the supporters on our side," he added.

"We can't always leave it for them to lift us, sometimes we need to lift them.

"We should never assume we're going to get the fantastic support that we do - we've got to earn that.

"They've got to see that we're up to put in a tremendous effort on Wednesday night to get a result for the club."

PA

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