King Kenny blames 'tiredness' for Wigan defeat
A "JEKYLL and Hyde side" was how former Liverpool captain Tommy Smith described Anfield's current crop when reflecting on their late horror show against QPR.
But at least Dr Jekyll turned up at Loftus Road; Saturday's new low in a schizophrenic season of Cup successes and league setbacks was a Hyde-only affair, as Kenny Dalglish's men slumped to a first-ever home defeat by Wigan Athletic.
This was a sobering afternoon for a club that began the campaign with Champions League qualification hopes and, as the dust settled, it left some pretty damning statistics about Liverpool's recent league performance: only Wolves have taken fewer Premier League points since January 1 and their haul of eight from a possible 33 in 2012 is less than the total managed by Roy Hodgson in his last 11 games.
Against this backdrop, Dalglish was not wholly convincing when pointing afterwards to a Carling Cup triumph and FA Cup semi-final appearance in defence of his record.
"You can look at us and pick out our league form," he said. "You can look at someone else, who has been knocked out of three cups - yet you take that as a good season. It depends how you depict it."
Quite how Liverpool's supporters and, more significantly, owners will depict it if this trajectory continues will be interesting to see.
For Dalglish there is no deep-lying problem: "You don't get into an FA Cup semi-final or be a Carling Cup winner if you are not (a good team)," he repeated, and his explanation for Saturday's sluggish showing was tiredness "with three games in six days". In mitigation, he was without Glen Johnson, Martin Kelly, Craig Bellamy, Daniel Agger and Charlie Adam through injury, but the limited contributions of three players signed for a combined £80m: Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson and substitute Andy Carroll, must diminish any sympathy.
Liverpool's passing was poor and they conceded both goals after failing to clear free-kicks into their box. The first instance led to Shaun Maloney's penalty opener, after Martin Skrtel's boot caught Victor Moses in the face, the second to captain Gary Caldwell's close-range finish in front of the Kop which restored the advantage after Luis Suarez's equaliser.