Southampton 3 Liverpool 1 match report: Inconsistent Reds to get reality check after standards slip
Reds lose at St Mary's
If anyone at or around Anfield was getting too excited about four successive victories and the outside chance of a top-four finish, Saturday's defeat at Southampton was a blast of cold reality. Brendan Rodgers, the manager, saw it as a useful reminder that rebuilding a team is not an overnight job, and while he will not be going back to the drawing board, he recognises that plenty of work remains to be done.
Unfortunately, that will have to wait while all but seven of his squad disappear on the international break, but he hopes they can use some of the time to assess the step back taken at St Mary's after what had appeared to be several steps forward.
"Maybe you've just got to go away and reflect on the last few weeks," he said. "Because it's important for us to maintain the efforts that we have been putting in that have got us results. We let those standards slip a wee bit so we just need to get back now and refocus on that and I'm sure we'll see a different side against Villa."
He will be especially concerned that they do not repeat the slow start on Saturday that allowed Southampton to take a 2-0 lead that they were unable to recover. It takes time, he suggested, to build that resilience into a refashioned side. "We're a team that is not quite on that level yet," he said. "We need to be right on it every game to get results and unfortunately today we suffered."
However, Rodgers argued that the result should be seen in the wider context of general improvement. "We had it last week against Tottenham when we went 2-1 behind [and won 3-2]. Especially in the second half of the season there's been a real upturn in terms of performance level. The players have been outstanding. This was just one of those days. Every team has them. We just didn't perform anywhere near what we have been. And, having said that, we could have scored three or four goals. So we just have to go away now, lick our wounds, and sit on it for a couple of weeks and get back to winning ways."
The influence of the injured Jamie Carragher was badly missed at the back, while Luis Suarez, mesmerising recently, was starved of service. But as Rodgers said, they still made chances and Mauricio Pochettino's high-pressing Southampton side, although dynamic going forward, still found the straightforward ball over the top difficult to defend.
It is also a concern for the Argentinian that Saints raised their game to beat Manchester City and Liverpool but lost to QPR and Newcastle. It is one he will address. "It just goes to show that football is based on your mental attitude in every single game you play," he said.
"We have to make sure that in every single game we play, not just these two games, that we have the same hunger and mentality to always go out for the win."
Latest in Sport
Mayweather-Pacquiao: Ricky Hatton, Mike Tyson, Ronda Rousey and more make their predictions
Frank Lampard's face drops when Holly Willoughby introduces him as a 'Man City legend'
Olivier Giroud doesn't believe Chelsea will change their style next season and responds to Thierry Henry's criticism of the Arsenal striker
Kyle Walker video: Tottenham defender categorically denies 'disgusting' rumours on Facebook
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: What time does it start and where can I watch it?
- 1 Frank Lampard's face drops when Holly Willoughby introduces him as a 'Man City legend'
- 2 'Do not give them a reason': Baltimore man divides police and rioters in hope of avoiding violence
- 3 X Factor in crisis as numbers of people auditioning plummets
- 4 Baltimore riots: Furious mother marches her son home live on TV
- 5 General Election 2015: Stephen Hawking says he will vote Labour
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Phantom of the Opera writer mocked after issuing a warning about Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon
General election 2015: Labour will toughen hate crimes legislation surrounding Islamophobia