Gary Neville: Liverpool were asking to be punched against Crystal Palace
Gary Neville has questioned Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers’ decision not to bring on a defender in the closing stages of the dramatic 3-3 draw with Crystal Palace that all but ended his side’s Premier League title hopes.
The Merseysiders’ were seemingly cruising to a routine victory at Selhurst Park but squandered a three goal lead in the final 10 minutes of the match as the Eagles staged a stunning fight back.
However, although Tony Pulis’ side deserve credit, Liverpool’s defence capitulated and Neville is adamant that their centre-backs did not do what was required of them once their advantage had been cut to a single goal.
“Liverpool didn’t have the capabilities and the leadership in the back to be able to get out [When it was 3-2]. Those two centre-backs (Martin Skrtel and Mamdou Sakho) are a big problem, you’ve got to get out of the box.
“Tonight they were playing a team who once it went to 3-2, it was an inevitability. You just know it’s coming you can see it, there was too much happening,” he told Sky Sports.
Liverpool continued to play the same attacking brand of football that they have employed throughout the season rather than protect their slender advantage and ultimately paid the price.
Many managers would have opted to introduce another defender to shore up the defence with only a matter of minutes left to play and Neville believes the decision to introduce an attack minded player when the tide had turned against Liverpool was the wrong one.
“I wondered whether [Daniel] Agger could come on at 3-2, [Victor] Moses came on instead. You’ve got to kill the flow of a game when you go to 3-2, the crowd here are up anyway whether it’s 3-2 or 3-0. You’ve got to somehow kill the momentum.
“I thought the two centre-backs look liked they needed help, whether it’s Kolo Toure or Agger. They needed support, they were struggling to cope with [Yannick] Bolasie.
“[For the third goal] those two [Liverpool] centre-backs have not got out of their box, there just retreating and asking for trouble. You’re asking to be hit, asking to be punched. Your defence is down and your asking for trouble and they got trouble tonight,” he insisted.
Liverpool’s players were dejected at the final whistle, with Luis Suarez in tears, as their title challenge has unravelled in spectacular fashion.