THE last time Liverpool travelled to Ewood Park a chastening defeat triggered the manager’s departure.

There is no chance of history repeating itself tonight but the memories of that previous visit should help put the Reds’ current slump into context.

It was January 5 2011 when a severely depleted Blackburn side delivered the final crushing setback of Roy Hodgson’s sorry reign.

Hodgson stood motionless on the touchline as the Reds, who were comprehensively outfought and outplayed, limped towards a 3-1 defeat which left them just four points above the relegation zone.

The swathes of empty seats in the Darwen End highlighted the absence of hope. Those who did sit through a shambolic reverse chanted for Kenny Dalglish and joined in the taunts from the home fans of ‘you’re getting sacked in the morning’.

In fact it was three days later when Hodgson got the bullet and Dalglish was summoned from his cruise ship.

Fifteen months on Liverpool return to Ewood Park amid fresh talk of being a club in crisis.

Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Aston Villa stopped the rot after three straight defeats but did little to stem the tide of criticism.

A return of just nine points out of 39 since the turn of the year has not only left hopes of Champions League qualification in tatters but sent Dalglish’s side sliding into mid-table mediocrity.

Jose Enrique insists the frustration felt in the stands is replicated in the dressing room.

The left-back can’t defend a league record which has put the Reds in danger of registering their lowest finish of the Premier League era.

But Enrique refuses to accept that his first season at Anfield is destined to be one of collective failure.

Just over six weeks ago he enjoyed the greatest day of his professional career when he got his hands on the Carling Cup as the Reds’ six-year silverware drought was ended.

And the Spaniard is relishing the prospect of returning to Wembley again on Saturday to face Everton in the FA Cup semi-final. Morale may have been dented by a miserable run of just one win in nine league games but with a Cup double still in his sights Enrique is staying positive.

“Saturday was like so many games this season,” he said. “We played some good football and it was disappointing to only get a point. We had some good chances to score but we missed them. We deserved to win.

“We have some amazing players up front but we haven’t had much luck in front of goal. We wanted to qualify for the Champions League. That’s the best place to be but it’s finished now. We have dropped too many points, especially at home.

“Teams have to have fear because they are playing Liverpool at Anfield but it hasn’t happened this season. Next season we can’t allow this to happen and we must be stronger at home.

“But the truth about this season is that we already have a cup in our pocket. And we are still playing for another one. No-one can say we haven’t won anything this season.

“I came here to win titles and play for good things. I’ve done that, I’ve already won one trophy.

“We will be playing in the Europa League next season and I’ve never played in that competition. That wasn’t our objective but that’s not that bad.

“At the moment this has been a great year for me and if we can take two titles in one season it will be amazing.”

Enrique knows victory over relegation-threatened Blackburn tonight would be the ideal boost ahead of a potentially season-defining derby at Wembley.

But the former Newcastle defender doesn’t even attempt to disguise the fact that Liverpool’s biggest game of the week doesn’t involve the club which Dalglish led to the Premier League title in 1995.

“In the league we know we have to try to finish as high as possible but the truth is the league isn’t as important as the Cup now,” he added.

“In the league we aren’t playing for anything. The semi-final is very important.

“To play Everton in a derby at Wembley is one of the best games we can play and we will try to do well.

“It will be amazing – two teams playing at 200%. It will be a special game for everyone and we have to win.

“We have one game before then. We need to go to Blackburn and try to get a win for some confidence before the semi-final.

“We are motivated and we’re creating chances. The only problem is we aren’t scoring enough goals.”

After an impressive start to the campaign, Enrique’s form has suffered in recent months and he was substituted prior to Luis Suarez’s late equaliser against Villa on Saturday.

The 26-year-old knows like many of his team-mates he needs to lift his game or risk watching the Wembley clash unfold from the sidelines.

“When the team isn’t working we all have to improve,” Enrique said.

“I try to do my best but no-one is safe. Everyone has to improve and I have to improve a lot.

“I can only speak for myself but I want to play in every game and hopefully by playing against Blackburn I can get more confidence.

“It’s been difficult not just in the last few weeks but in the last few months.”

Dalglish were left fuming by the refereeing decisions that went against the Reds against Villa. Suarez in particular was harshly treated but Enrique insists they can’t concern themselves with things beyond their control.

“Referees are not our problem,” he added.

“We know Luis is an amazing player and really important for us. I don’t know what the referees think.

“But I don’t think we dropped points on Saturday because of the referee. We just have to try to improve.”