Kenny Dalglish tore into his under-performing Liverpool players after a lacklustre defeat at Bolton Wanderers, accusing them of thinking they only had to turn up to win and disrespecting both their opponents and the traditions of their own club.
"The most disappointing thing for me was that I don't think the approach was correct," the Liverpool manager said after Bolton's surprisingly comprehensive 3-1 win. "The foundations of this club have always been based on respect for other people. You can't come to places like this thinking all you need to do is turn up to get a result. That's what I think we did today, and that's why we were taught a lesson. It's not the right way to represent the club. I don't think we were even ready to play the game. That's probably why we lost a goal after four minutes. I don't think the way we went about our work was correct."
Liverpool have two important cup games against more illustrious opponents coming up, the second leg of the Carling Cup semi-final against Manchester City on Wednesday followed by Manchester United in the FA Cup fourth round at the weekend, and the suspicion is that Dalglish's players were looking too far ahead rather than concentrating on the matter in hand. "This philosophy of this club has always been that the next game is the most important one, not the one two or three games down the line," Dalglish said. "You have to match the opposition for effort and commitment and today we didn't do that. I hope a lesson has been learned. I don't want to take anything away from Owen or the way Bolton played, but we have to see what we can do to prevent this happening in the future."
After climbing out of the bottom three with victory, Bolton's manager was naturally elated. "We have had our problems this season but we always knew we could address them," Owen Coyle said. "We have been working to put things right, we have players coming back and we have played well in our last few games. We deserved this result: we were terrific in possession and organised when we lost the ball.
"It's not very enjoyable, to be honest, waiting for a late kick-off and watching all the other results coming in, not when you are in the bottom three anyway. But we played to a very high standard today, we showed what we could do and we will continue to believe in ourselves. It was a fantastic team performance."