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Rodgers Sees "Character And Resilience"

After four games, Liverpool are top of the Premier League and unbeaten. It took nine games to get ten points last season. At this juncture, let me invite the hordes of naysayers and doom-mongers to temper their biting disdain and try to, y'know, enjoy it?

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Brenno had another commandment for Moses...WHAT?!
Brenno had another commandment for Moses...WHAT?!
Stu Forster

In the wake of last night's Shelvey-centric Welsh mayhem, it would have been easy to believe that Liverpool had been heavily beaten and were back oscillating between sixteenth and seventeenth positions under the bumbling stewardship of the current England manager. Bitter lamentations filled the ether and angry rebukes seared across monitors in pixelated fury, as ireful supporters raged against the Liverpool machine. Players were thrown under the bus with Hodgsonian adroitness as the post-match berserkers waged war with all in sundry. Sakho is rubbish! Aspas is not up to it! Rodgers is a spoofer! So it went. So it always goes.

Meanwhile, back in what appeared to be the minority grouping of comparatively temperate folk, an altogether calmer reflection on what had transpired was taking place. You'd need to be a denizen of Cloud Cuckoo Land to believe that there were no glaring problems emerging from yesterday's performance. It was spectacularly uneven stuff, with one or two clearly struggling on the night and yet, after refereeing foetus Michael Oliver blew his final whistle, Liverpool remained a point clear at the top and still unbeaten since the ban on Luis Suarez. Hardly the form of a one-man team.

During a game, it is part of the wonderfully cathartic process to rail against injustice and inadequacy, no matter how one-eyed our thought process is whilst doing it, but afterwards shouldn't a modicum of phlegmatic detachment inform our assessment of what actually happened? There are few more partisan than I during a match, but even to these red-tinged eyes, it was clear that the second half performance was, what my uncouth cousin would call "pure dirt."

However, to wander across the mean streets of Twitter last night or to cock an ear at the rabid whining on the phone-ins afterwards, revealed a level of bile-laden scorn and desperate disillusionment I've only ever experienced when I ask my father about Ireland's current batch of political pygmies. I stepped away in confused disillusionment, having haemorrhaged Twitter followers for the audacity of trying to grapple a little perspective back from the crazed haters. I won't miss their company.

Thankfully, our manager seems to have discovered the happy knack of clear-eyed balance in his post-match assessments, of late. Brendan Rodgers, himself, was the focus of many of the slings and arrows that made social media so treacherous to one's mental health after the match, but the Northern Irishman is a hardy sort and learned in last season's school of hard knocks to temper his native enthusiasm and allow some cold realism to permeate his observations.

"Up until sixty five minutes, we had good control," Rodgers opined. "We're disappointed with the second goal we gave away; obviously then the momentum changes into Swansea's hands for the last twenty-twenty five minutes. Then we've got to show another side, especially when you're away from home, of character and resilience. And we did that. Make no mistake, we've got a lot of improvements still to make."

For those still wiping the froth from their cheeks and binning the garments they rent asunder last night, it must give a little consolation to hear the manager acknowledge that this Liverpool side are far from perfect. New boy Mamadou Sakho showed a propensity to be attracted to the ball in areas of the pitch that caused this scribbler to flirt with cardiac arrest. His demeanour was far from composed on his debut but it would be a harsh critic who failed to note the many tackles, simple passes and clearances that must be any defender's stock in trade. Balance. It's not difficult, really. Rodgers managed it again, when speaking about the imposing Frenchman.

"Sakho did very well. He hasn't played a lot over the course of the pre-season. He has come back in and trained very well for a couple of weeks. I thought he was excellent and assured. He stepped out maybe a wee bit too far for the second goal but that's something that, once he gets used to working with us, he'll improve on. Overall, I thought he was strong, aggressive and passed it well."

Victor Moses seemed to tire a while before he was finally withdrawn but his debut was impressive. Displaying an admirable strength on the ball, the new man also showcased a pleasing fleetness of foot and his goal was a delightful piece of opportunism. The loanee was constantly motile and looking to link play in the opening hour and Rodgers insists that he has long been impressed with the player.

"When I had been here as the Swansea manager, I always felt that when Victor played here against us that he was a real threat, and scored against us here. I know when he came with Chelsea, he scored here last year. I just had a feeling for Victor and his quality, and his goal was very good tonight. He's just getting up to speed -- these are boys that haven't played a great deal over pre-season."

What was less edifying was the sight of Philippe Coutinho leaving the pitch in clear distress. Speculation is rife as to the severity of his injury, but a scan today will clarify the issue. Against Southampton on Saturday, Rodgers could be short the services of three nailed-on starters. Glen Johson's absence was glaringly apparent as André Wisdom struggled in the right back berth. Frankly, the stylish full-back cannot return quickly enough. Sakho's inclusion yesterday was down to a "freak" injury to the vice-captain. In a darkly farcical scenario, the heavily-inked Dane strained his side in an attempt to avoid a falling dumbell -- you couldn't make it up.

Whatever way you cut it, Rodgers will need to test the depth of his newly augmented squad, but with World's Greatest Man, Kolo Touré, returning from injury and the likes of Allen, Sterling, Ibe and Alberto on the bench, all is certainly not lost. Rodgers was also keen to remind those fashioning nooses that there was the minor consolation of Luis Suarez's return in the midweek. People will react as they please. If you are one of the disgruntled folks that want to BURN IT ALL DOWN, then I wish you a pleasant pyromaniacal frenzy. I choose the less energy sapping path of cautious optimism. Life's got enough grim reality, and with Kolo involved, it's all too much fun to be miserable.

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