Gary Neville said full-back Andy Robertson was a shadow of himself in Liverpool’s defeat to Manchester City on Thursday.
Last year’s champions City brought the newly-crowned champions back down to Earth with a 4-0 win at the Etihad Stadium.
The Reds had chances early on but after Kevin de Bruyne’s opening penalty, it was all City pressure.
Robertson was particularly in the firing line for City’s third, scored by Phil Foden. Amid a quick one-two, the left-back went to tackle Kevin de Bruyne, who passed back to Foden in acres of space to finish.
Speaking on Sky Sports‘ commentary of the match, Neville was quick to point out Robertson’s unusual mistake.
“He’s playing tonight like he has had a week on the lash,” Neville said (via the Daily Star).
“It’s so unlike him. You see him getting drawn in again. He just has to hold his nerve. He’s getting played around.
“I think it’s more a lack of concentration from Robertson, the preparation won’t have been the same.
“He looks like he’s seeing two of Foden out there. He’s done it three or four times in this first half.”
However, Neville also appreciated that, with the title wrapped up last week, Liverpool naturally would have felt no pressure.
“You do switch off,” he added. “There’s nothing to play for, the pressure that exists on players when you haven’t won the league [is no longer there]. To continue to play at the highest level is hard.”
Jurgen Klopp‘s men return to action on Sunday when Aston Villa are the visitors to Anfield.
ROBERTSON, LIVERPOOL STARS DEFENDED BY KEANE
Neville’s defence of the Liverpool players was a sentiment echoed by fellow United legend Roy Keane.
Keane said: “It’s human nature. You’re going to be slacking off. I was fortunate enough to play in some good teams where you won the league with two games to go, and you do switch off
“You end up at the pub for a week or two and you’re trying to get back in the swing of things. It’s different for City tonight because they’ve got other competitions.”