Liverpool started their season in a disappointing fashion, losing 3-0 away to West Bromwich Albion yesterday, in what was Brendan Rodgers's first game in charge of the club.
The defeat came as a shock to most, after the Reds enjoyed a relatively productive pre-season, progressing through the first qualifying round of the Europa League against Gomel and acquiring two new names, in Fabio Borini and Joe Allen.
On paper, Liverpool looked strong, with Lucas Leiva returning to the starting eleven after his long-term injury last season. Lucas accompanied Allen and captain Steven Gerrard in a midfield three, playing behind Luis Suarez, Borini and Stuart Downing up front. The central defensive pairing of Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel is enough to worry any striker in football, but in Jose Enrique's absence due to injury, Glen Johnson played on the left and Martin Kelly played at right back. The ever-reliable Pepe Reina kept his place between the sticks.
So why was Rodgers's first game in charge such a flop? The obvious answer is Liverpool are a team in progress, under a new regime and success is evidently going to take time. The Merseysiders were once a real force in English football and indeed, in Europe, but the reality is it could be a few seasons yet until Rodgers can engineer a side that can reach those heights again. The former Swansea boss has arrived at the club with his preferred style of play and it will take time for him to implement his tactics on his team. Having only signed two players since arriving in the summer, Rodgers is still working with the players he inherited from Kenny Dalglish's reign. For those that are expecting instant success under Rodgers, then prepare yourself for disappointment, especially with a top four finish now tougher than ever to achieve.
Liverpool's next two Premier League fixtures will be a tougher test and a further indication of how far the club have got to go before they can claim back their 'big club' status. Manchester City, followed by Arsenal at Anfield, provides Liverpool with a possible form of redemption after a dismal opening day defeat and could set the team up with a vital confidence boost ahead of a tough season. The owners have expressed their willingness to give Rodgers time at the helm, but there is no mistaking what everyone involved with the club craves, a return to the big time.