‘Young players let us down and we can’t keep relying on Steven Gerrard’, blasts Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers after Oldham defeat
Rodgers started with only three players aged over 23 in the FA Cup fourth-round tie against League One strugglers Oldham Athletic, yet his emerging youngsters found themselves outplayed and outfought by Paul Dickov’s team.
The second-half introduction of captain Gerrard did little to turn the tide and Rodgers pointed the finger at his underperforming players.
“Our mentality was poor and it ended up costing us,” Rodgers said. “But I was really disappointed with our young players.
“We are trying to give them experience and let them see what it’s like to play for Liverpool, but you’ve got to be able to be competitive and part of a group that is going to challenge for trophies. If you are going to win trophies and go far, then you need to come to places like Oldham and win. We were not good enough.
“Gerrard has come on with Stewart Downing and, for 35 minutes we were terrific, but it was too late then. We were 3-1 down and it was not good enough.
I can’t rely on Steven for 70 games. He’s been incredible, but he shouldn’t be expected to have to come and win games on his own.
“You can’t be comfortable at Liverpool. The youngsters are never allowed to be. This is a different type of football to the Premier League and you have to stand up and be counted.”
Aside from failing to match the desire of the home team, Liverpool also lost the physical battle, with Oldham centre-forward Matt Smith – who ended the game with a dislocated shoulder – dominating the defensive pairing of Martin Skrtel and Sebastian Coates.
“We didn’t have enough physicality, especially considering we have got two big strong centre-halves.” Rodgers said. “We have a 6ft 4in and a 6ft 3in centre-half.
“The big guy Smith did well, but it is not like we haven’t played against that big type before.
“We were too much on the back foot early on, you have got to be aggressive. Across the board, we didn’t press well enough from the front.
“This was a trophy that we put focus on to go far and now we are out of it. Oldham did well. If they play like that then they shouldn’t be down where they are in the league. They had lost seven of their last eight league games.”
Liverpool expect to complete the signing of Inter Milan’s Brazilian attacking midfielder Philippe Coutinho early this week for £8 million