FA CUP shocks are like practical jokes – great fun when they’re happening to anyone else but you.
Listening to Brentford tweaking the Chelsea Lion’s tail and Leeds plucking the Tottenham Cockerel on the way to Oldham last Sunday, it scarcely crossed my mind that a similar fate could befall us later that afternoon.
Judging by the performance we served up at Boundary Park, I had good company in the Liverpool team and bench.
The scare at Mansfield should have been enough to put all on their guard, but it seemed neither manager nor players had heeded the lessons of the previous round – away cup games under barely functioning floodlights in ramshackle surroundings against highly motivated, physical opposition are not to be taken lightly.
Opinion was divided over whether Rodgers picked a strong team or not – the radio commentators and pundits in their post-match analysis pointed to the number of full internationals on show, while many fans bemoaned the lack of physicality and experience in the team.
Rodgers himself was in no doubt where the blame lay, castigating the young players for not seizing the opportunity to perform.
Why he chose to let Jones and Skrtel off the hook is anyone’s guess, particularly when our reserve keeper spent the entire match kicking or handing the ball to the opposition.
At least his post-match interview was dignified and well-judged, refusing to search for excuses when any such attempt would have met with derision.
Criticism of Rodgers’ selection has to be tempered by the alternatives available to him.