It's easy to forget just how strange the start to last summer was--Kenny Dalglish was brought to Boston for normal end-of-season talks that turned out to be normal you-are-not-manager-anymore talks, John Henry and Roberto Martinez were photographed having coffee and window-shopping Miami pawn shops, and Brendan Rodgers, who'd initially declined to be included in a broader pool of applicants, shot to the front of the line and became Liverpool's new boss as the calendar turned to June.
Regardless of who the new manager was, change of some sort was on order, but with Rodgers there was a definitive style and playing philosophy that were part of the package. It couldn't be escaped, really, as any conversation about what Liverpool would look like under the Northern Irishman started and ended with possession, passing, death by football, and other really Spanish things.
Early expectations were never going to be met, of course and the changes that have taken place were always going to be incremental. But even talk of having a defined style or approach represented a change of sorts--everyone knows Liverpool have always been a pass-and-move side, except for those long chunks of time when they weren't--as the club limped to the finish of the 2011-2012 season looking directionless and disjointed.
That's been apparent at times this season as well, with a number of performances indicating that the general malaise that's plagued the club for the past three years is still very much a problem. However, Brendan Rodgers is confident that what makes him different will be enough to push the club forward, even though it poses a greater challenge than the work he did at Swansea:
"There was great work here with Kenny and Steve [Clarke, Dalglish's assistant]. But I am a different coach and a different tactician and a different man to them. I came here and looked to put my template in place which of course was going to take a bit longer because when I went to Swansea there was a foundation there."
The talk about templates and transitions is understandable, and I think most are willing to afford Brendan Rodgers enough time to see a project unfold. But ultimately the biggest change isn't just talk or philosophy or system, it's Liverpool finding a way to perform at a high level on a regular basis--one that would see them start to consistently challenge teams at the top of the table.