Liverpool fans are recognised around the world for the endearing support they give to their team through thick or thin, and for the tremendous loyalty they show towards managers, no matter how much the club is struggling.
Therefore, it seemed to be a defining moment when a chorus of boos rang around Anfield at full-time after Wednesday night’s embarrassing FA Cup collapse at the hands of championship strugglers Reading.
A full-strength side started the match, and despite both Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres limping off with yet more injury woes, not being competent enough to beat a modest Reading team at home simply spells one word for English football’s most decorated club: crisis.
For months now, Liverpool have been performing poorly, putting their supporters through excruciating pain. Premier League? Out of the title race within a couple of months. Champions League? A miserable campaign ending in utter humiliation. FA Cup? Outplayed by a mediocre Reading team. Verdict? Not good enough.
Liverpool now only have fourth place in the Premier League and the lowly Europa League to fight for. It's a wretched state of affairs for such a grand footballing institution.
So, who’s to blame? The players first and foremost, who have been underperforming for too long now. Insua, Degen, Lucas, Babel, and Ngog are all nowhere near good enough to be starting football matches for a club of Liverpool’s standard. Even Gerrard and Torres have been well below par this season, though both have been hampered by injury.
In particular, Gerrard has looked disheartened and despondent. His body language doesn't always appear to drive his teammates onto greater things like it has previously. Torres has scored some important goals, but he continues to run into defenders and fall over when passing would be the more appropriate and unselfish option.
The owners can be held partly accountable as well, of course. The two blundering Yanks currently steering Liverpool’s ship got lost on their voyage for silverware ages ago. Rafa Benitez now has to sell before he can buy, a situation which makes it extremely difficult for the Spaniard to improve Liverpool’s fortunes. It’s all about money, money, money.
However, Benitez is also to blame. When things are going badly, he simply doesn’t seem to posses a personable side that might lift his players psychologically from the doom and gloom. If Liverpool don’t finish in the top four, he will most definitely lose his job. He is lucky to still have one right now.
Liverpool Football Club as a whole must take a look at itself and ask what has gone so badly wrong. The players, the owners and Benitez must improve if Liverpool are to save their season from being one of the biggest disasters the club has ever encountered.