Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard pulled no punches with his post-match assessment of his side after the Reds fell to a disappointing 1-0 defeat away to FC Basel in the Champions League, with his sentiments echoed by manager Brendan Rodgers.
A Marco Streller goal as Liverpool failed to deal with a corner swung into the box from the right flank separated the two sides, but the Reds did little to suggest they deserved anything from the fixture.
Visibly annoyed by his side's performance, Gerrard told Sky Sports (H/T Mirror Football) post match:
We didn’t deserve anything. We were too soft all over the pitch, which is very disappointing. You can’t keep losing goals from set pieces—we were second best at times against an OK team, and we made it easy for them.
We wanted a draw, I expected us to win. We were aggressive against Everton, but we are back to where we have been—we were not good enough.
The retired England international himself was not faultless in the display, largely anonymous throughout as enthusiastic Ivorian Serey Die frequently took control of the midfield area for the Swiss side.
For all Liverpool's issues higher up the pitch, where Mario Balotelli, Lazar Markovic and Raheem Sterling all endured off days, Gerrard's assessment that the battle was lost in central areas is hard to dispute.
From the moment Basel manager Paulo Sousa was forced into an early change following an injury to left-back Behrang Safari, switching to a three-at-the-back system, it was the unfancied hosts who looked the better side in possession.
For Liverpool and manager Rodgers, it will be a major concern, given that such a performance is not an isolated event this season. Indeed, the Northern Irish manager also used the word "soft" to describe his side's showing, per Liverpoolfc.com:
The goal we conceded was far too soft—and it's not the first one. It was a very disappointing goal to concede after all the work, all the talking and all the training ground work that we do on [corners].
We never got going in the first 25 minutes; we gave it away too easily and didn't have the passing combinations. Then we grew into the game and were probably the better side. We started to distribute the ball better and create some chances.
We started the second half well and went close on a couple of occasions. Then we conceded a soft goal and it's difficult away from home. This is a club that has had a great record against English teams. But tonight was an opportunity for us to at the very least get a point from the game.
Defeat in Basel leaves Liverpool with a tricky task to progress to the latter stages of the competition, given that they now face back-to-back ties with defending champions Real Madrid before a trip to Bulgarian side Ludogorets.
While endeavouring to pick up as many points as they can against Real, Reds fans will also be hoping that Basel fail to pick up six points from their two encounters with the Bulgarians. Should they do so, Liverpool's hopes of reaching the knockout rounds would be dented.
Steven Gerrard @Gerrard8FanPage
Liverpool have kept just 1 clean sheet in 9 games this season in all competitions.2014-10-2 06:36:38
Next up for the Anfield side is West Brom on Saturday and Rodgers will hope for a morale-boosting success in front of his home crowd to ensure Liverpool go into the international break in the best position possible.
With no game for two weeks following the visit of the Baggies, giving injured stars more chance of regaining fitness—striker Daniel Sturridge foremost among those currently absent—the hope would be that Liverpool quickly return to winning ways.
Having fallen nine points behind league leaders Chelsea at this early stage of the season, the weeks ahead will be a major test of Liverpool's top-four credentials. If they are to repeat their feat of qualifying for the Champions League, they must lose the soft side of their game their captain and manager spoke of.
Without Suarez and more recently Sturridge, and with goals harder to come by, it is highly important to their season that the Reds offer a solid and organised defensive unit—something they have been failing to do thus far.
The players will have been stung by recent criticism, but it is now up to individuals to react positively and prove they have what it takes to meet expectations this season. That process must begin this Saturday against West Brom.