You could call this shambolic but it would be unfair to dwell on Blackburn's purple patch. They had Henning Berg sent off and could have lost by double the margin, such was their supine resistance to a Liverpool side who approached their best, although given the space at their disposal it would have been hard to perform otherwise.
"Morale is very low," Ray Harford, Blackburn's manager, said. "It wasn't until 3pm today, because we thought we'd maybe turned a corner. But it's another kick in the teeth and we have to show character now. They are not bad players, the majority of it is confidence."
He might have added appetite, too, because Blackburn show symptoms of sitting back for a breather after gorging on achievement last season. The moment, after five minutes, when Tim Sherwood tackled and injured his own team-mate Mike Newell was like a snap-shot of the whole, disorganised afternoon, except that Newell was unique in being dispossesed by anyone in a blue shirt.
Liverpool's first goal was a perfect example. The visitors pulled every man back but not one of them had the gumption to guard against a short corner and fewer could be bothered to make a serious challenge once Steve Harkness and Steve McManaman played the ball to Jamie Redknapp on the edge of the area. He is shooting like Wyatt Earp at the moment and, with oodles of space, he cracked the ball past Tim Flowers.
By the 29th minute Robbie Fowler and Stan Collymore had made it 3-0 and when Berg was dismissed (a decision Blackburn intend to appeal against) they were looking down the barrels of a humiliating thrashing. Only Liverpool's profligacy and fatigue, after a tiring midweek journey into Europe, spared them.
Even so, 11 points behind the front-runners and with four Premiership defeats already, Rovers' chances of retaining their title are not so much slim as anorexic. "We're getting beaten because we deserve to." Newell said frankly. "We're not competing properly, doing enough to win the ball back. The only way you get yourselves out of a situation like this is by hard work."
Harford has admitted he needs three or four players to seek a solution but as to who they might be, he is keeping quiet. When it was put to him that reports suggested he was interested in Dennis Wise, his reply was "Did they?"
The answers, in more ways than one, are not coming easily at Blackburn.
Goals: Redknapp (11) 1-0; Fowler (21) 2-0; Collymore (28) 3-0.
Liverpool (5-3-2): James; Jones, Wright, Ruddock, Babb, Harkness; McManaman, Redknapp (McAteer, 80), Barnes (Thomas, 80); Collymore, Fowler. Substitute not used: Warner (gk).
Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Flowers; Berg, Pearce, Hendry, Le Saux; Kenna (Makel, 67), Batty, Sherwood, Ripley (Sutton, 45); Newell, Shearer. Substitute not used: Mimms (gk).
Referee: G Willard (Worthing).Reuse content