Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez expects his "big names" to lead by example and drive the club on to Champions League qualification.
A difficult season has seen captain Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres' form affected by injuries while even the ever-consistent Jamie Carragher had an uncharacteristically poor start to the campaign. Despite Torres scoring his fifth goal in three matches early on against Manchester United on Sunday the team failed to recover from Wayne Rooney's penalty soon after and eventually lost 2-1 at Old Trafford.
"Sometimes when you talk about big names, top-class players, you are expecting something from them when the team is not doing well," said Benitez. "You expect them to say: 'It's okay, follow me'."
Torres' disenchantment grew as the match wore on and his increasing frustration led to him being booked for a foul on Park Ji-sung and subsequent dissent to referee Howard Webb.
The Reds have now fallen behind both Tottenham and Manchester City in the race for fourth place while should Aston Villa win their two matches in hand they too will overtake the Anfield club.
Liverpool have seven matches - with only one against a top-four club in Chelsea at home - to save their season and Benitez believes his experienced players have to lead the way.
"We have had this conversation with Fernando and the rest of the team. It was something we were expecting from Torres and he was really good the other day (scoring two apiece against Portsmouth and Lille)."
Benitez was not overly concerned by Torres' display of petulance against United. But he has told the Spain striker to concentrate on causing problems for opponents and not allow himself to be distracted by their spoiling tactics.
"Fernando knows he has to focus a little bit more," said the Reds boss. "We were talking about this at half-time (against United) so that is something that will be better for him and better for the team.
"He can score more goals by concentrating on football. All strikers, especially top-class strikers, they are marked a little bit more closely than others and that is normal."
Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: http://gms.to/writeforgms