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Rodgers Talking Top Four

It was inevitable really. There was only so long it could last. Reporters keep pressing. The team keeps winning. The ten game mark is approaching. Confidence is soaring. And Brendan Rodgers is talking about finishing in the top four.

The chorus always gave Brendan trouble. He was no tenor...
The chorus always gave Brendan trouble. He was no tenor...
Clive Brunskill

Irish mythology presents us with the tale of King Lowry Lynch who had horses' ears. Each year a barber was chosen by lottery to cut the hair, which the king used to enshroud his equine aural appendages. The poor wretch would then be put to death after he discovered the monarch's dreaded secret in the course of his craft. One mother, whose son had been chosen for the job, pleaded with the king for his life and he relented on the proviso that the young barber keep the secret to his grave.

It was, however, a terrible burden and the proto-hairdresser, on the advice of a druid, unburdened himself to a willow tree. Alas, the court harpist broke his instrument soon after and the new harp was fashioned from that very tree which had 'heard' the secret of the king's ears. Every time the musician played it, it sang the legend, "Lowry Lynch has horses' ears" to the assembled court. The king was humbled and repented of all those he had killed. Gaelic mythology, it seems, is trying to tell us that the truth will out. And that hairdressers have loose lips.

It doesn't matter how hard you try. If there's something you're bursting to talk about, somebody's going to get told. Brendan Rodgers has a secret. He believes that his squad has what it takes to be "in the conversation" for Champions League football and under the constant pressure of hacks looking for an angle, he has, nine games in, said as much in public.

Your scribbler is an advocate of the old-school, one-game-at-a-time contribution from Liverpool managers and I won't deny a world-weary sigh upon reading his latest quotes. Only very recently I've spoken about how much the manager has matured and improved in his public utterances, seeming to be far more circumspect than the starry-eyed version of himself that first walked into Anfield. Nowadays, Rodgers is measured and wary, in as much as an inherent optimist can ever be measured and wary. And so we must ask, is there really anything wrong with saying you have faith in your charges to attain the goal every supporter craves?

Perhaps, we should more appropriately turn the critical gaze away from the manager and back onto ourselves as supporters, inveterate pessimists and damaged goods that we have become. The last four years have had too much darkness and despondency. The club was so close to ruin. The fall from being Europe's most highly rated team has been very steep and injurious, and then, gentle reader, there was Roy Hodgson. We need no justification, then, for our cagey and gloom-drenched demeanour and yet the signs are there that we would do well to cast it off and embrace an era of hope and positivity.

With twenty points from nine games thus far, Liverpool Football Club is on track to dine at Europe's top table, but for the sake of a reality-check, Everton are only two points behind and Chelsea, despite the perceptions of many, are ahead in second place on goal-difference. There are plenty of reasons to believe but there are also plenty of reasons to be calm and cautious about predictions. Brendan Rodgers, as the focal point of the club must tread this line. It is a parlous path. Speaking ahead of the Arsenal match, he was eager to be upbeat, but retained a note of caution.

"This is a good benchmark for us," offered the Liverpool gaffer. "We have shown that we have quality in the team and that we have got a winning mentality, which is important. And we have shown that we can consistently bring that to the table. Saturday won't be the be-all-and-end-all in terms of whether we can make the top four or not, but I think what we have shown so far is that we are going to be in the conversation."

Having fought back an initial inclination to wince a little, one finds oneself incapable of arguing with a word of what the Northern Irishman has said. He then went on, depending on your level of residual pessimism, to either rationally justify his belief or engage in a display of wanton and foolish hubris.

"We want to be challenging and winning trophies here," Rodgers insisted. "That's what Liverpool is about and there is never any shying away from that. That expectancy will always be here. That's something we relish and look forward to. I believe we are in a good moment. We have started the season as we would have wanted -- strong. We are putting a marker down that we are going to be consistent. After that early period we've played very well. I think we can only get better and improve.

"We have a lot of young players who are developing. Everyone talks about Daniel (Sturridge), at twenty four, improving all the time. Everyone talks about Luis Suarez, his goals and his work rate, but I've seen an improvement in his footballing ability and his maturity this year, so that bodes well for us."

Ah yes, Sturridge and Suarez. How could any Red be overly sepulchral in their outlook when the team is spearheaded by two such talents? With Jordan Henderson and Steven Gerrard pressing high in support of them and the sedulous efficiency of Lucas Leiva behind them, there is a platform on which to build a confidence or even, as Rodgers would have it, an "expectancy" that success may come. Any remaining folk of a saturnine disposition may find further solace in the fact that the magisterial skills of Philippe Coutinho are about to be on display once more, as the Brazilian makes his comeback to the squad.

Still gloomy? Well, I really don't know what to say to you, dear reader. Except that you may be right and I may be a skittish fool embracing the promise of glory like some flighty ingenue. It is, however, a thrilling feeling to be looking to the future with excitement and hope, as opposed to fearfully squinting at the latest horror from between one's fingers. Clear eyes, full heart, can't lose! I possibly got a bit carried away there at the end.

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