Liverpool failed to turn up at Bolton and were delivered a disappointing blow in the race for a Champions League spot.
The usually solid Liverpool defence crumbled and were a goal down within minutes at a windy and cold Reebok stadium.
After the game there were suggestions that the reds two upcoming cup games were on the players minds, and Kenny Dalglish expressed his fury with the players level of commitment – warning them that their futures at Anfield won’t be long ones if they think a performance like this is acceptable.
Bolton had won only one of their ten home games prior to this one – although it appeared that Liverpool were the team facing relegation on this performance.
Before the game the team line-up pleased many supporters – with Bellamy and Rodriguez both involved, replacing Kuyt and Downing from last weekends draw against Stoke.
In the 4th minute Mark Davies was allowed to waltz through the middle of the pitch and fire past Reina, 3 Liverpool players failing to put in a challenge.
Jose Enrique was easily dispossessed later and Chris Eagles pass in front of goal was fortunate to not be picked up by a Bolton player.
The referee waved away a Bolton handball in their box and within minutes Bolton doubled their lead. Eagles again skipped through the reds defence and allowed Reo Coker to finish from 6 yards.
This second goal seemed to jolt Liverpool in to some sort of action – Carroll flicked on for Bellamy to chip in the reds first of the day.
The reds fans who made the trip expected the reds to continue their revival in the second half – but Liverpool started poorly again.
In the 50th minute a corner totally outmaneouvred Liverpool and Wheater and Steinsson combined to put the Wanderers 3-1 up. There was going to be no coming back from this lifeless Liverpool performance.
An insipid Charlie Adam was removed alongside Maxi Rodriguez, and Kuyt and Downing were sent on – but it made little difference to this dismal reds performance and the minutes ticked away as Liverpool fell to their 5th, and arguably most disappointing defeat of the season.
In another weekend when the teams around us dropped points we failed to take advantage.
A clearly furious Dalglish issued a warning to the players after the game. The reds need to buck their ideas up, and quick. Both Manchester clubs visit Anfield this week in two cup ties. If Liverpool maintain this level of performance it will be a tough week ahead.