THE horror of watching their side meekly capitulate to third-tier opposition has rightly prompted Liverpool supporters to query their team’s appetite for a scrap.
But for Brendan Rodgers, the one glaring shortcoming on display from his players at Boundary Park on Sunday wasn’t a physical attribute.
It was in their heads.
Not for the first time, a Liverpool manager was left cursing the lack of mental strength within his team after watching them crumble to a humiliating 3-2 FA Cup fourth round defeat at League Two strugglers Oldham Athletic.
The reverberations from the defeat will be felt for some time to come, not least among the youngsters of whom Rodgers was again critical yesterday.
Much of the outside scrutiny, though, has now focused on the Northern Irishman’s own signings and the concern they may be too lightweight to compete against more forceful if less talented opposition.
And while Rodgers disagrees, he accepts players are still growing accustomed to the pressure and spotlight that comes with playing at a club of Liverpool’s stature.
“Take Fabio Borini and Joe Allen, for example,” says the Anfield manager. “One thing I would say about Borini and if you ask people about him, they’d say his biggest attribute is his physicality. His power and aggression – that’s what he’s renowned for.
“That’s something he needs to improve on becase that’s his strength. That’s where his qualities are.
“As for Joe Allen, I’ve seen Joe throw Yaya Toure to the ground in games last season. He has never been found wanting physically.
“For some players their power and strength is in their brain. Otherwise you would have basketball players throughout your team.”