at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Brendan Rodgers started with a 180-page dossier for the owners on how to improve Liverpool, but he might need a few more sheets on which to write his thoughts about this debacle.
Never mind, it’s only champions Manchester City next in the Premier League on Sunday.
There are plenty of questions for Rodgers to answer – and quickly. Judging by Saturday’s 3-0 defeat at West Bromwich, Rodgers might start with these:
1. Is Luis Suarez the right spearhead?
Liverpool fans saw the best and worst of the Uruguayan inside 90 minutes. He was constantly probing and teasing. And constantly missing chances. His conversion rate remains such that he needs four chances to score once and he was decidedly off-key on Saturday.
A goal at any time – even the chance he spooned over the bar from inside the six-yard box when Liverpool were 2-0 down – would have caused nervousness in the home ranks.
Is Suarez better utilised behind the front man, running at opponents and linking up play, rather than being the focal point of the Liverpool attack?
2. Why spend £15m on Joe Allen and then play him out of position? (Ditto Borini)
Rodgers knows Allen’s qualities better than anyone.
The Wales international made his name at Swansea, finding space in midfield, given licence to link up play and operate in areas further forward where he could hurt the opposition.
It was therefore little short of bizarre to see Liverpool set up with Allen holding a defensive midfield position alongside Lucas.
Likewise, Borini was used during Swansea’s promotion season as the spearhead of their attack.
Here, he was asked to play wide in a front three.
3. Steven Gerrard was anonymous. Was this the best use of England’s skipper?
At the age of 32, Gerrard’s days of being the all-action midfielder may be drawing to a close, but it was nevertheless difficult to recall ever seeing the Anfield legend have less of an impact on a game.
Gerrard didn’t look entirely happy with whatever system Rodgers is trying to introduce at Liverpool.
He was caught in a midfield no man’s land, not sure of his role or what he was supposed to be trying to achieve.
4. Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger looked shaky. Is it time for a rethink on Agger?
Manchester City would like to sign Agger and Rodgers could be tempted to cash in.
Agger confirmed afterwards that he will contest his red card but his protest is unlikely to provide much hope that he will face City next week.
Even before shoving Shane Long in the back for the penalty which led to his dismissal, this had been far from a blemish-free performance from the Dane.
He and Skrtel seemed uncertain on the ball: shall we try to play, or should we clear our lines?
5. How does he change it for Manchester City?
Andy Carroll can do a job, if he is given the chance. But Rodgers doesn’t seem to fancy him at all. Jamie Carragher could come back to shore up the defence, but what else can Rodgers do?
He needs to prove his ability and, with games against Arsenal and Manchester United coming up, he will need to act quickly.
Verdict: On the evidence of this, two centre halves. Maybe it is time to cash in on Daniel Agger. He and Martin Skrtel had an off-day and Jamie Carragher won’t last for ever. – Daily Mail