Rafael Benitez was extremely unhappy with his team after they dropped two more points in the league – this time at home to Middlesborough.
Benitez had made five changes to the team that played against Chelsea in midweek, with one eye on Tuesday’s return. Where Wednesday 0-0 draw was a good result in a two-legged European tie, Liverpool needed all three today. They’d have been just a point from fourth place if they had managed a victory – Fulham beat Everton 2-0.
Rafa’s comments were strong: "It is similar to last Saturday against Crystal Palace and I am very unhappy with a lot of things about my team. The result is not good and we only played for 20 minutes in the second half." Liverpool’s inability to be putting in the effort and concentration for 90 minutes is perhaps one of the main reasons they are so far behind first-placed Chelsea. Liverpool have players with skill, but it seems the determination is lacking.
Benitez tried to look on the bright side: "If you think positive we have one more point but it’s one less game. "
Rafa’s frustration was there for all to see, as he pointed out: "This is three times now we have failed to close the gap after Everton losing."
What was unbelievable today was that Benitez had players who couldn’t lift themselves for a game that was so important – and with summer looming some of these players could find the exit door is waiting for them. It’s not been lost on Rafa that Liverpool struggle after Champions League games. He wants this to stop: "I don’t know why we are struggling after playing a Champions League game midweek but we need to change things for the future. We can’t this season and we just have to get on with it." Expect the axe to fall behind the scenes – hopefully Rafa will be brave enough to stand up to those players whose attitude is wrong.
Liverpool have now got just two days off before the return leg in the Champions League, Benitez obviously wants better from his men: "I hope we will see a different Liverpool on Tuesday night against Chelsea and I hope to see a lot more good things."