"Climate," said the oft-quoted Mark Twain, "is what we expect, weather is what we get."
As fans of Liverpool Football Club, we are only to familiar with the veracity of these words. Expectation has plagued us for seasons now. We had become accustomed to unquestioned top four status under Houllier and Benitez and the absence of Champion's League football is all the more galling when we compare our previous campaigns to the type of histrionic posturing on display at Old Trafford last night.
The balmy "climate" we expect has been replaced with the biting chill of the "weather" we must endure at this juncture. Of course, our tentative grasp on realism has not been aided by the procession of staff and players wittering on about how an assault on the Champions League places is an achievable goal this season. It's not and it hasn't been for some time.
However, one man who has always been direct and honest, to the exclusion of sentiment, is Daniel Agger. Our Danish centre-half is a courteous but direct fellow, as Roy Hodgson will attest. Asked about where Liverpool might finish, Agger was cautiously positive, acknowledging that the team was "finally starting to show some consistency" and that the aim now was simply to finish as high as possible in the league.
"When you play for a club like Liverpool, you have to be on top of your game every week. What is the target for us now? I think we've all agreed that we only look one game at a time. Our focus now is on Tottenham. But only having one game each week for the rest of the season should help us."
The stylish defender insisted that Liverpool "should be finishing the season strongly," adding that "there's still a lot to play for." Such tempered musings on the rest of the campaign are soothing music to ears that have been deafened by an onslaught of bravado and bluster about top 4 finishes, even if Hugo Lloris has given us a little toffee, Bob Paisley-style, by claiming that Liverpool are "playing the best football in the Premier League."
Coupled with the new, measured approach from Brendan Rodgers, there would appear to be a coherence and realism about the club's attitude to the last leg of the campaign which is most welcome. Perhaps the climate is changing.