Rudderless Liverpool heading nowhere unless they find leaders fast

Anfield Pitch

A Jordan Henderson-less Liverpool will continue heading nowhere until they find a leader, fast.

Assistant manager Gary McAllister had talked up the need to be brave ahead of their Capital One Cup meeting with Carlisle United on Wednesday evening, and the visit of the League Two outfit represented the perfect chance for Brendan Rodgers' men to regain their scoring touch.

The game was ideal; a hugely inferior side, a team who are 65 places below them in the football pyramid no less visiting Anfield, and the feeling was that they would be swatted aside by a team who finally began to regain a fluency that has been absent for the last six months, and ahead of the game, McAllister talked up the leaders in the squad.

McAllister told reporters ahead of the Cup game: "They have got to rise above that anxiety and that is where we come in as coaches.

"I have played in front of frustrated crowds when things aren't going well and I think that is when you push your shoulders back and show that bravery.

"Bravery is getting on the ball in tight areas and taking responsibility. The middle of the park is where you do need people to get on the ball and make play.

"I watch Philippe Coutinho, Lucas Leiva and James Milner, they don't shy away from the ball and they will continue to prompt and probe to try to make things happen."

Liverpool eventually squeezed past Carlisle on penalties to avoid a true nadir of Rodgers' reign, and while the inquests will continue into the Northern Irishman's credntials as manager of the 18-time league winners, the Reds can at least point to the fact that they are in the fourth round.

However, the loss of Steven Gerrard in the summer and subsequent absence of replacement skipper Jordan Henderson has laid bare a true lack of real leadership amongst the club's senior players.

Make no mistake, Liverpool's malaise has dragged on now for the best part of six months, and a rudderless side are heading nowhere until a few of the first-choice stars take responsibility for matters on the pitch.

Too often, the team seem content to supply the ball to Coutinho and expect the Brazilian playmaker to conjure something special from very little and when the No.10 isn't firing, Liverpool labour.

Adam Lallana was Southampton's captain prior to his switch in the summer of 2014, and while the ex-Saints skipper has been dogged by injuries, at £25m, the England international really needs to be imposing his ability on games more often.

Milner is another who is struggling for form, despite finally being given a sustained run in his favoured position, much more will be expected of the ex-Manchester City man in the coming months.

Rodgers is unlikely to be given the boot by owners Fenway Sports Group anytime soon after entrusting him to splurge around £80m in the summer, but that won't stop supporter unrest as long as performances and results continue to reside in the gutter.

Liverpool need leaders, and fast.

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