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Liverpool's night of horrors

SOMETIMES, evenings at Anfield produce a performance from the home side so ghastly that the match ticket should carry a parental warning.

This was such an occasion, a 18-certificate horror show for Halloween. Swansea City returned to haunt former manager Brendan Rodgers and secure a deserved quarter-final place.

There are not too many Premier League managers who use the League Cup to rest the kids and throw in some hardly seen, expensive senior players. After this humbling experience, with Liverpool deposed as the trophy's holders, Rodgers will not repeat the mistake any time soon.

Joe Cole did not so much play as spend 45 minutes ghosting about the pitch with a performance so inept the audience was spared a repeat in the second half.

No sooner was the midfielder welcomed back from the wilderness again, he found himself exiled again, subbed at half-time. Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing did nothing to ensure they will avoid spending more time as substitutes.

Henderson, signed for £18million as a midfielder, was used as a right-back. Downing, a £20m acquisition, has been asked to reinvent himself as a left-back, although he was a midfielder again here.

If someone wantonly threw money around like that on Wall Street, they would spend years fighting allegations of corporate negligence.

With respect to Swansea, when they are held as the yardstick for Liverpool, you understand the scale of the job facing Rodgers.

The Liverpool manager reluctantly summoned Luis Suárez and Steven Gerrard from the bench at half-time.

That nearly worked when the South American led a late revival, but the damage was already done in the first half by Chico Flores, before Nathan Dyer and Jonathan de Guzman completed a memorable night for the Welsh side on the counter-attack.

"The best team won," Rodgers acknowledged. "It shows the size of the job here. I know how much work is required. We have a small, thin squad and when you give players opportunities and they do not take them, there are even less to choose from.

"You look at Joe Cole, he is a talented player the club paid an astronomical amount for and this was an opportunity for him, but we were too slow and it just wasn't what I expected from a team set up to be dynamic."

Not that any of this should undermine Swansea's excellence. They comprehensively outplayed Liverpool. Before last night, their manager Michael Laudrup had a remote place in Anfield history as the greatest player Liverpool nearly signed.

But for Liverpool's stand-in goalkeeper Brad Jones, the margin of victory could have been greater. Dyer and De Guzman scored with second-half tap-ins, but Liverpool were chasing after Flores outjumped Sebastián Coates on 34 minutes.

"You're getting sacked in the morning," the Swansea fans sang at the man they once adored.

Not quite, but a few others at Anfield will not get another opportunity to put right what went so wrong here.