BRENDAN RODGERS admits Liverpool did not “stand up and be counted” as they crashed out of the FA Cup against Oldham Athletic.
The struggling League One outfit punished a woeful performance from the Reds as Rodgers criticised his players’ approach to the fourth round tie at Boundary Park.
The bulk of Rodgers’ anger was directed at Liverpool’s younger players as the majority failed to make the most of their opportunity to impress in the first team.
Captain Steven Gerrard came off the bench in the second half in an attempt to rescue Liverpool from a desperate situation but even the 32-year-old’s powerful display was not enough.
Oldham now progress to a fifth round home tie with Everton whilst Liverpool are left to sift through the wreckage of one of their most humiliating losses in recent times.
Rodgers refused to shy away from what had been a hugely humbling experience in Greater Manchester.
“I am bitterly disappointed,” he said.
“We started and finished the first half poorly and started the second half poorly and got punished.
“Our mentality was poor and ended up costing us.
“I was really disappointed in our young players. We’re trying to give them experience and let them see what it’s like to play for Liverpool. You’ve got to be able to be competitive and be part of a group that is going to challenge for trophies.
“If you are going to win trophies and go far then you need to come to places like Oldham and win. We were not good enough.”
Goals at either end of the first half from Oldham striker Matt Smith – who was playing non-League football less than two years ago – and another from Reece Wabara put the cash-strapped Latics into a 3-1 lead.
Though Joe Allen reduced the deficit late and Gerrard rattled an effort against the bar, Oldham held on for a famous victory.
Rodgers says cup football is a different beast to life in the Premier League, a concept his players failed to grasp yesterday afternoon.
“This is a different type of football to the Premier League and you have to stand up and be counted,” Rodgers said.
“They did against Mansfield, but today we were slow out of the blocks and got punished. It was not until the last 40 minutes that we played with any intensity.
“The big guy Smith up front did well but it is not like we haven’t played against that big type before. We were too much on the back foot early on, you have got to be aggressive.
“It is a different game to the Premier League. Premier League games are nice, teams stroke the ball about and give you time to get your shape. This is a different type of football, you have got to roll your sleeves up and be strong and aggressive.
“We didn’t have enough physicality, especially considering we have got two big strong centre-halves. We have a six foot four inch and a six foot three inch centre-half.
“But across the board we didn’t press well enough from the front. You have to stop the ball at source. The ball comes into the big guy but you have opportunities to stop it before it does. Today our young players disappointed me.”