Ray Houghton implies Liverpool boss Rodgers was naive against Chelsea

Steven Gerrard

Ray Houghton, who picked up a league title in 1988 and 1990 with Liverpool, points the finger at the club's strategy on Sunday.

The blame game is often rife in British culture, particularly when it comes to football.

While Steven Gerrard's peers claim a slip can happen to any professional, the moment where he lost his footing and allowed Demba Ba a free-run at goal before slotting the ball into the net, could prove significant in the destination of this year's Premier League title not being Anfield, but rather the Etihad Stadium.

Gerrard should be absolved, however, as Liverpool's tactics were at fault from the start, meaning the blame should instead be shouldered by Brendan Rodgers.

A favourite for manager of the year honours, Rodgers' man-management and tactical ingenuity have oft been lauded by the football industry and the media throughout the current campaign, yet his strategy was naive on Sunday.

"As soon as you saw Chelsea line up it was almost six across the back line as [Mohamed] Salah and [Andre] Schurrle would come back as additional full backs, with Schurrle coming back to Ashley Cole, so they were nicely compact - there was no room for Liverpool to get through them," said Ray Houghton, who 24 years ago was helping the Merseysiders lift their last league title, to Sky Sports News.

As soon as Chelsea's cautious, safety-first approach was evident, Houghton believes Rodgers should have adapted accordingly.

"What [Liverpool] should have done was pass the ball around their defence and just said 'well we're not going to go forward'.

"The most important thing from yesterday wasn't to win, but to not lose.

"If they drew, they'd still be favourites to win title. But by pressing and going for a goal they left themselves vulnerable to the counter attack and were punished twice by Chelsea."

Former Chelsea striker Tony Cascarino added: "There was a lot of naiviety about Liverpool yesterday, Ray just touched on it. But even in their line-up… [Philippe] Coutinho and [Raheem] Sterling against Chelsea? Against Norwich City fine, but Chelsea?"

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