LIVERPOOL had landed back on English soil but the airwaves were still clogged with supporters disconcerted by Brendan Rodgers describing Europa League defeat in Russia as “a near-perfect away performance”.
Yet that has been the way for the Anfield outfit for most of the campaign.
Nearly, but not quite. More potential than end product.
The 2-0 loss at Zenit St Petersburg on Thursday was a carbon copy of the setback at home to West Bromwich Albion three days earlier, when Liverpool were made to pay for their profligacy by conceding two late goals.
“The game typified our season really,” admits Rodgers. “We arrived in the last couple of games on the back of two outstanding performances at Arsenal and Manchester City in games nobody could argue against that we should have won.
“We were confident going into the West Brom game and didn’t take our chances and got punished late on. Likewise on Thursday.
“It’s not a tactical or technical or a physical issue, it’s one about having more maturity in our performances that will get us the results we need. We need to improve that and will do.
“I can’t criticise the players. They have been brilliant in my time here. But we may not just be good enough at the end of the day.
“We have some top players here, some world class players but it might not be this year that we will make that jump. But lapses of concentration are costing us dearly.”
That Liverpool aren’t good enough is something supporters have accepted for some time, given the evidence of their early exits from both domestic cup competitions and the fact they lie in ninth place, as near to the bottom four as the top four.
The last time the Anfield outfit went into a second leg in Europe looking to overturn a two-goal deficit at home saw them ultimately lose 4-1 on aggregate to Genoa in 1992.
Only once before, against Auxerre earlier in that UEFA Cup campaign, have Liverpool successfully fought back from such a position.
But with the return leg against Zenit to come on Thursday, Rodgers says: “It’s still all to play for. We certainly aren’t out of it. The chances we created shows we can get goals. But to lose 2-0 was disappointing having up until 70 minutes had probably the perfect away performance.
“We still have a lot of big games to play between now and the end of the season.”
The first comes tomorrow afternoon at home to Rodgers’ former side Swansea City, a fixture rescheduled after the Welsh side won through to next Sunday’s Capital One Cup final against giantkillers Bradford City.
And the Liverpool manager has pointed the finger at the Premier League for not rearranging the game until later in the season.
“It absolutely puts us at a disadvantage,” he says. “I was very disappointed with the Premier League to be honest.