Liverpool’s laboured Capital One Cup penalty shoot-out victory over League Two Carlisle did little to ease the pressure on manager Brendan Rodgers.
Despite the positive of seeing summer signing Danny Ings score for the second successive match, Derek Asamoah equalised in the first half and – despite having 47 shots – the Reds could not add to the 1-1 scoreline over 120 minutes and were taken to spot-kicks.
Another summer signing, Adam Bogdan, came to Rodgers’ rescue with three saves as Liverpool won 3-2 in the shoot-out to dash Carlisle’s hopes of causing a huge upset at Anfield.
But Rodgers remains under scrutiny – even if the club flatly dismissed reports they had approached veteran Italian and two-time Champions League winner Carlo Ancelotti – and only an upturn of results and performances will start answering many of the questions now being asked of him.
However, first-team coach Gary McAllister believes the spirit within the squad may have been galvanised by having to scrape past a team with the leakiest defence in the fourth tier.
“When it comes to a penalty shoot-out, there is that coming together of players in the middle of the pitch and we’ve stepped forward and got through,” the Scot said after Liverpool booked a fourth-round date at home to Bournemouth.
“We’ve shown that bit of character and we’re delighted for Adam Bogdan, making the saves to get us through.
“Maybe this is one of those little things that can just pull us together as we look forward to the weekend (home game against Aston Villa on Saturday).
“We want to perform better and that is what we are striving to do, to get that rhythm back we’ve seen in the past.
“It will get better. The feeling is that we are working hard at training, we will persevere and we will try to win games and perform well.”
Carlisle manager Keith Curle was proud of his players.
“You are looking at a team which made a lot of friends,” he said.