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Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has been let down by his sloppy players


Decisive moment: Marco Streller slides in to beat Simon Mignolet in the Liverpool goal for the only goal of the game

Decisive moment: Marco Streller slides in to beat Simon Mignolet in the Liverpool goal for the only goal of the game

Decisive moment: Marco Streller slides in to beat Simon Mignolet in the Liverpool goal for the only goal of the game

Brendan Rodgers has been taking some stick lately... and after last night's dismal, desperately disappointing 1-0 defeat to Basel in the Champions League group stages, there will be more to come.

That's football management for you. Rough and smooth. Goes with the job.

Last season the Carnlough native was untouchable, a visionary hailed as the best young boss around as he almost guided Liverpool to a stunning Premier League title success.

This term, questions are being asked of his tactics, recruitment policy and what is clearly a messy ongoing battle with England over the fitness of Daniel Sturridge.

Why the difference? Plain and simple — results.

Rodgers will know better than anyone that they have been nowhere near good enough since the current campaign kicked off.

In the Premier League, the Reds are in a lowly 14th place having lost three out of their opening six games and having succumbed in Switzerland are now facing a real fight to make the Champions League knockout phase.

If matches were decided on penalties, Liverpool would be doing alright — they have taken 17 already, 15 of which were in a League Cup shoot-out victory over Middlesbrough, and netted 16.

But in just about every other aspect of the game, they have been found wanting, starting with the basic art of defending.

In nine fixtures this season they have kept only ONE clean sheet and continue to concede sloppy goals from set pieces.

Time and time again the defending has been shambolic when the opposition swing in a corner.

That was the case once more last night with Martin Skrtel making a hash of a clearing header before Marco Streller slammed home from a few yards to send Basel fans ballistic early in the second half. It would prove to be the decisive moment in the game.

The Anfield outfit weren't mean at the back last season, but such was their breathtaking movement and clinical finishing from the likes of Luis Suarez, Sturridge, Raheem Sterling, Philippe Coutinho and a few others that no matter how many times the line defence was breached, the players up front would more than make up for it at the other end.

That's not happening now.

Any club on the planet would miss the departed Suarez and the injured Sturridge, but even allowing for their absence, Liverpool are about as sharp as a balloon in attack with Mario Balotelli, along with every other new signing, yet to show he can be a consistent force for the Merseysiders.

Liverpool's yellow shirts may have been bright last night, but as their frustrated and angry captain Steven Gerrard pointed out after the final whistle, the football was far from it, in keeping with all the performances so far this season, bar a superb 3-0 victory at Tottenham.

Confidence is low. The energy and intensity, hallmarks of any side bossed by Rodgers, have not been high either and against Basel there wasn't enough desire or fight from too many to mention.

The Ulsterman's position is not under threat, with the American owners seeing him as the key element in their long term plan for the club, but that doesn't mean results can continue like this.

They must improve and quickly, otherwise pressure will increase.

Rodgers, who in a short time has taken Liverpool a long way, has great self belief and strength of character.

His underperforming players need to show the same for this storm to pass.

Belfast Telegraph