Liverpool are facing up to a title crisis just a few days into a season when they were being hailed as Premier League favourites.
Two disturbing defeats inside the first nine days of the campaign - by teams with genuine hopes of breaking into the top four - has seen boss Rafael Benitez turn on his senior stars and demand more responsibility. Liverpool players, predictably, have jumped to the defence of a side already six points behind the leaders.
Midfielder Yossi Benayoun said: "Last season we only lost two league games, so of course we are not pleased. But we have to show we are still a strong team with character to recover from this."
The defeats at Tottenham and then against Aston Villa at Anfield have brought to a head a summer of change at Anfield that has been largely kept very much under wraps.
Not any more. Major changes in staffing at Anfield, the club's academy and the Melwood training complex has created a sense of upheaval.
Now the financial problems of American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, which has deprived Benitez of the funds to buy a much-needed top striker, is taking its toll.
Benitez, unhappy it is believed at the easy access to dressing room secrets by TV pundits who are friendly with his top players, has now called for "greater responsibility" from his star names.
"Of course we are disappointed," added Benayoun. "We did not expect to lose to Villa but it was just one of those nights when everything went against us.
"Now we know we have to improve on Saturday at Bolton. Against Villa we did not play like we can play, we didn't move the ball quickly enough as we did to beat Stoke last week. It is all about hard work and effort, working from game to game and We know we can do better than this.
"Normally a club like Liverpool will lose only two or three games (a season). Of course everyone will ask if we are strong enough to win the league, but there is still a long way to go and everything can change."
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