Football Expert & Columnist
Jamie Carragher: Liverpool collapse at Crystal Palace "not acceptable"
Jamie Carragher has no sympathy for Liverpool, saying their collapse at Palace was unacceptable.
Last Updated: 06/05/14 11:27am
Brendan Rodgers' side led 3-0 at Crystal Palace with 12 minutes to go and looked set to go three points clear of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League - but Damien Delaney pulled one back and Dwight Gayle hit a late brace as the home side completed a stunning comeback.
Former centre-back Carragher, who retired last summer after spending his entire career at Anfield, feels Liverpool have shown vulnerability in the back four all season.
And as Luis Suarez left the pitch in tears after the final whistle, he said the players only have themselves to blame.
"You look at Suarez and you think you feel sorry for him, but you can't feel sorry for Liverpool in that situation," he told Monday Night Football.
"That is not acceptable, for all the plaudits Liverpool have had in the last few months - and deservedly so as they have been the most outstanding team in the Premier League to watch and excited us all.
"But that has been their Achilles' heel all season. Even when they've been winning games it's been 4-3 or 6-3 or 3-2. We always felt the defence would come back and haunt them with the goals they've conceded.
"Tonight's the night, not so much the back four but as a team defensively the goals conceded have come back to haunt them.
"The strikers normally get them out of jail and you could have argued if it had been 3-2 tonight and they'd hung on then the strikers - Sturridge and Suarez - would have got them out of jail again.
"You can't keep conceding goals at this level and expect to win big trophies. It's not acceptable the way they've finished that game in the last 20 minutes.
"It's a bit of a freak, of course it is, but we've been saying for months now that the defensive side of this team is not up to scratch and is not at the level of Premier League champions."
Carragher says Rodgers' preferred central defensive pairing of Mamadou Sakho and Martin Skrtel lack leadership skills - and there was evidence of it in the 3-2 win over Norwich last month.
And he believes Liverpool paid the price for trying to chase down Manchester City's superior goal difference instead of tightening up at the back.
"Goal difference could become a factor, so you're thinking 'get to 3-0 and now try to get goals and move forward'," Carragher added.
"Liverpool were throwing men forward and people were staying up front and maybe weren't coming back, but the back four and the defensive side of this team have shown they can't cope with the pressure.
"When they come under pressure, we saw them at Norwich dropping back into the box. Sakho and Skrtel don't communicate enough and they're not pushing out. They're good players, but they're not leaders.
"They need people out there pushing people out. You can't keep dropping back against these teams, inviting pressure and think you'll get away with it.
"We mentioned a couple of weeks ago the Norwich game and they got out of jail. We mentioned on the day it could have easily been 3-3.
"They basically haven't learned the lesson of that Norwich game. You think of the City game when they let people back into the game as well, the 3-2 situation, and it just continuously goes on and on for the last few months.
"They've been getting away with it. Tonight is the night that they haven't got away with it and they've probably lost the league title."
Carragher also accused the central defenders of showing weakness both physically and mentally - and says the duo's record shows they are not good enough.
"I look at those centre-backs and that's weak mentally for me, not pushing out," he added.
"You do that as a centre-back. In plenty of tough away games you keep driving out and then you've got to come back and then you've got to keep pushing out.
"It's your goalkeeper as well. I don't think there's enough leadership or communication in the two centre-backs or the goalkeeper especially.
"Sakho is new. Brendan Rodgers has gone with him and Skrtel as a partnership and he's got Daniel Agger on the bench. I've mentioned before I don't think he's the biggest fan of Daniel Agger and that's why he always seems to leave him out.
"That's 17 games Sakho and Skrtel have played together now and one clean sheet. They always concede goals whenever they play together."