Roy Hodgson admits Liverpool are still some way from being the finished article after a frustrating 1-1 draw at Wigan.
Just weeks ago Hodgson's position as Reds manager was in doubt, with his new side lurching from one crisis to another. But three successive Premier League wins, including the scalp of Chelsea, suggested the Reds were on the road to recovery.
However, that impressive run ground to a halt with a below par performance against Wigan on Wednesday. Hodgson's side took the lead through an early goal from Fernando Torres but Hugo Rodallega equalised after the interval and Liverpool were fortunate to come away with a draw having been out-played for long periods.
Hodgson claimed the amount of games his side have played recently may have been to blame for their poor showing, but he knows he still has work to do to improve the squad. "I thought we looked tired against Wigan," he said.
"I don't think our passing was anywhere near as good as we expect it to be. I don't think we were anywhere near where what I'd expect us to be. I would put it down to Napoli, Blackburn, Bolton and Chelsea with a small squad of players. We've got five players injured and ended the game with Jonjo Shelvey, Nathan Eccleston and Martin Kelly. That's what we have and that's what we are using and hopefully we'll get a few players back soon."
Liverpool may be without some key individuals, but they still have the combination of Steven Gerrard and Torres to call upon. The pair sometimes look to have a telepathic understanding and that was evident as the Spaniard collected Gerrard's pass to open the scoring at the DW Stadium.
But that was as good as it got for Liverpool as their control faded and were duly punished when Rodallega fired home in the second half. Suddenly this was the sloppy Liverpool team of a few weeks ago. Even Torres was catching it, as the striker strangely opted to go for goal from an acute angle with Gerrard and team-mates in support and in acres of space at one stage.
But this just underlined how Liverpool are still someway off from being the finished article. Not that this frustration is anything new to Hodgson. "I've given up trying to temper expectations," he added. I deal with every game as it comes and try and win it. Sometimes we are good enough, other times we are not. We weren't good enough at Wigan and have to build on that."
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez was delighted with his side's display. "The first 15 minutes we were not in the game at all and we got heavily punished as you would expect against world-class players," he said. "But after that I was extremely pleased with the way we controlled the game, imposed ourselves and created chances.
"You feel when you do that against Liverpool you expect to get the reward of three points. I am extremely proud of the players. It would have been very easy to feel sorry about themselves and allow Liverpool to win the game. They are really disappointed and frustrated in the dressing room and that fills me with pride and it shows you the characters we have at this club."