The topic of progress has been unavoidable over the past year. Moving on from the previous owners, moving on to new management, moving to new players, and, ideally, moving on to a more successful future. But with results on the pitch so mixed---and just plain bad in league---the concept of what constitutes progress has become entirely convoluted.
The higher-ups at Liverpool haven't done much to clarify anyone's ideas about progress, with celebrations of the concept after the League Cup victory and further assurances of development despite disappointing results over the past few weeks. These comments have predictably been met with skepticism from the media, who eagerly point to a host of other setbacks, and it hasn't exactly done wonders to assure Liverpool supporters that progress is happening in spite of the difficult run of results.
It's understandable if your concept of progress is different from the Liverpool manager's---the same position in league as the past few seasons certainly isn't an area to point to, and the personnel that's present is another source of contention. Many have pointed to the names that have left as being more skilled than those that came in, and given the struggles that past year's arrivals have had, that's a fair shout. And while they're back in Europe, the method of attaining participation via the League Cup isn't seen as the most illustrious.
But it's also easy to see how and why Dalglish is spending his energy on trying to broaden concepts of progress beyond more points and better players, and it's not just because those are a tougher sell. The club has benefited in many ways off the pitch, ranging from the change in ownership to sponsorship deals and broadening the club's exposure worldwide. The results on the pitch might be disappointing, but it's easy to see how those in charge can point to a host of positive changes that, particularly when contrasted with where the club was a year and a half ago, have left the club in much better stead.
For me this is one of the messier issues around the club right now, and that Dalglish is the one pushing a different sort of progress makes it even more challenging. I want to agree with him, and I certainly agree with him and Jonathan Wilson, who wrote an excellent piece about patience when it comes to this very issue at Liverpool, that more time is needed to determine just how exactly Liverpool have advanced.
The challenge is that the here-and-now isn't so wonderful, and when that's the case, cries to "wait until later" often fall on deaf ears. The past few weeks have been particularly difficult in that regard, and while it hasn't taken away from my hopes that progress is actually happening and will continue to, it's made being patient awfully difficult.