Belfast Telegraph

Angry Rafael Benitez cannot explain Liverpool's poor performance

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez was at a loss to explain his side's dismal performance in the 1-0 defeat to Wigan at the DW Stadium.

Hugo Rodallega's eighth Barclays Premier League goal of the season in the 35th minute - after Dirk Kuyt had given the ball away near his own penalty area - proved decisive.

But Benitez's team were woeful in the first half when they could not string two passes together and looked well off the pace.

The clearly angry Reds boss could not explain why his players had been so terrible but stressed it could not happen again.

"We have to be really disappointed. After a defeat always you cannot be happy but after a defeat in this way...the first half we didn't do anything," he said.

"We gave the ball away, we didn't win any first or second ball, and that is difficult to explain.

"I think it was a question of attitude in the first half; sometimes we played too quickly, we were in too much of a hurry. It was a poor half.

"In the second half there was a much better attitude but it was not enough.

"We had some chances but we didn't play well. If you approach the game in this kind of way you cannot win this kind of game or maybe any game.

"Everyone is very low. There are too many things we cannot understand."

Benitez never criticises his players in public but this was as close as he has come in nearly six years in charge.

But having missed the chance to regain fourth place - his side still sit sixth having played more matches than all of their rivals - the Spaniard said he had not given up the battle for Champions League football.

"We have to keep going. We have an important game on Thursday (against Lille in the Europa League) and then we have to keep going and keep winning games if we can," he said.

"We have to win games. We cannot approach an important game like this and then play in this way.

"You have some good games, bad games, but at this time in a crucial moment I think we could do better

"Sometimes you play badly but it is not a question of remembering too many games, it is a question of analysing why we didn't show the character."

There was some suggestion television pictures had captured captain Steven Gerrard flashing a v-sign at referee Andre Marriner after he was booked late in the game but both Benitez and club officials have played it down.

"I don't know, I was too far away," was the Liverpool manager's response.

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez was delighted after recording only the club's - and his - second victory over a 'big four' side.

"Today the things you needed to beat a top-four club were there. Character, responsibility, desire, the 'over my dead body' mentality," said the Spaniard, whose side moved four points clear of the relegation zone with the win.

"It was very pleasing but on top of that we scored a very good goal from open play against a very tough side and we limited Liverpool to very little.

"That is probably the biggest compliment of the night. They have a real threat with Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres, Dirk Kuyt, Yossi Benayoun and to keep them quiet we made the fans proud.

"This is one of the days to be very, very proud of Wigan. You saw a group of players who want to play the right way, want to win in the right manner. They have all the attributes needed in a very good football side.

"We need to carry on this standard till the end of the season."

Belfast Telegraph


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