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Jan 14, 2010

Apologetic Jamie Carragher won't blame owners for woes

Jamie Carragher has apologised to Liverpool fans following the club's dismal FA Cup elimination at the hands of Reading, but has refused to blame off-the-field issues for the poor performances witnessed under Rafael Benitez this season.

• Paper Round: Rafa is responsible
• Report: Liverpool 1-2 Reading
• Harris: Rafa must go
• Purslow rules out exits

With the Premier League title a distant dream, Champions League hopes giving way to the brutal reality of the Europa League and, now, FA Cup humiliation, it has been a deeply problematic season for Liverpool and their manager.

Wednesday night's 2-1 defeat at Anfield, to a team struggling in the Championship, has once again invited focus on Benitez's record with Liverpool winning only six of their past 20 games in all competitions. Carragher admits that after the latest disappointment, the club's fans deserve an apology.

"It was a very bad night for Liverpool and we can't disguise that - we had to do more against a side from a lower league," Carragher told the Liverpool Echo. "We have to apologise for the way we performed. We have to give credit to Reading, hold our hands up. We all like to win but when you don't, you have to be a good loser.

"We have to accept they deserved it. But, at the same time, we have got to look at ourselves and the way we performed was not acceptable. We've got a massive game coming up against Stoke now. It will be very tough, as we played extra time and we have got to show enormous character to come back.

"But that's what we have got to do. We have got to move on but, at the same time, we have to say sorry to the fans who came to Anfield and all those watching on TV."

As well as their struggles on the pitch, Liverpool have also suffered from damaging headlines off the field of late with Tom Hicks Jr resigning from the board following the publication of an abusive email he sent a supporter.

The regime of Tom Hicks and George Gillett has proved vastly unpopular with the club's supporters, with concerns over debt restricting Benitez's transfer funds and plans for a new stadium being delayed, but Carragher is adamant that blame can only lie with the players.

"We have got to do better and we have got to recover," Carragher said. "There are still four months left of the season; it's been tough and this result has made it a little bit tougher for us.

"But we are Liverpool. We can't be where we are and we have got to improve. Liverpool Football Club demands certain standards. At the moment we are not reaching them and we know that but we have all got to come as one and stick together.

"The stuff that goes on off the field has got nothing to do with it. I don't think so anyway. If you say it has, you are only making excuses. Whatever goes on behind the scenes, we have got to do our own job."

Meanwhile, former Liverpool captain Ronnie Whelan has called for the club to bring a swift end to Benitez's reign at Anfield, telling BBC Radio Five Live: "The way Liverpool have been playing, they have not been good. They have lost 10 of the last 20 games. He should have gone a long time ago. They have got to do it now.

"Do they bring in someone until the end of the season? Kenny Dalglish is back at the football club. Could he do it until the end of the season and see what happens?"

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