Grant demands Reds reaction

Avram Grant has already identified next weekend's vital visit of Wigan Athletic as hugely significant to the season after the Hammers came up second best in a 3-0 defeat at Anfield.

Liverpool proved too strong on a disappointing evening in front of 1,900 travelling fans who had arrived full of hope of a first victory away to the Reds in 47 years despite the absence of Scott Parker with a chest infection. What they saw was Glen Johnson, Dirk Kuyt and Maxi Rodriguez fire first-half goals that put Liverpool in full control and they were to cruise to victory.

The one-sided scoreline was a repeat of the previous trip to Liverpool back on 19 April - the last time Parker was absent - but Grant can take comfort from the fact the Hammers followed the 3-0 setback with a stirring 3-2 home win against Wigan seven days later. In that pulsating contest, Parker was back in the ranks and stole the show with an electrifying strike that proved the pivotal moment of the campaign. 

"It was not a good performance," said Grant as he faced the press at Anfield after a match in which Robert Green had to be at his best to deny Liverpool even more goals. "In the last weeks we have performed well, better than our opponents, but we didn't win. Today we deserved to lose.

"It was not easy but I can take some positives from the second half. It showed that it is not easy to break us even in a bad situation.

"We have to take that spirit into the next game against Wigan because that is very important for us. We need to win. Even if there are a lot of games left we need to start winning now."

Although lamenting Parker's absence when asked about the impact of the No8 missing out, along with Manuel da Costa, Kieron Dyer and Valon Behrami, Grant refused to dwell on his selection headaches for too long. "The movement was not good. We didn't play well. We conceded in the second phase of a corner [for the Johnson goal] and a penalty [for the second from Kuyt] that was not a dangerous situation.

"As well as Parker, we missed a lot of players that were in good shape. Even without them we should have performed better - as we did for the second half."

He also understood the supporters' frustration and rejected outright reporters' questions that had suggested crowd discontent affected his players. "The fans are always right. They came all the way. They wanted to see a good performance and they didn't see that. That is what is important. It was not because of the supporters that we didn't perform. They are always right behind the team."

With Wigan's next visit to the Boleyn followed by Manchester United in the Carling Cup quarter-finals on Tuesday week, the manager remains committed to the task and retains the belief that the story of the season could change quickly. "I am concerned only with my job and what I can affect.

"I will not only analyse this game but will remember the way we played in the other games in recent weeks. We can still do a good job in this situation and take ourselves out of it."