Much of the tone since the draw against Aston Villa--and in many ways, the win at Stoke--has been a negative one, with focus on injuries, stagnancy in the transfer market, and tactical tinkering by Brendan Rodgers that seemed to compromise the squad's balance as a whole to accommodate his captain. There's still time for the former pair to be corrected or resolve in some way; far-fetched as it might seem now, Liverpool's injury woes will get better, and there's still time for a deal or two to get done before the window closes on Friday night.
The latter point is an ongoing concern, however, as both Rodgers and Steven Gerrard appear fully committed to seeing out a project that places the skipper in the deepest midfield role, tasked with increased responsibility defensively and in possession. Things improved marginally at Bournemouth this past weekend, but in each of his previous three appearances he was overrun whenever the opposition applied pressure, or, in the case of the draw with Villa, the project was rightly abandoned.
Clearly it's an adaptation that's not going to come without some problems, but Gerrard's focus was entirely optimistic when discussing the change ahead of Tuesday's visit from Everton:
"I knew there would be a time in my career when I'd need to adapt my role and drop a bit deeper. I knew when that time came other people would be talking about it more than myself. Brendan has spoken to me about the role an awful lot recently, and about the adaptation, and that's what everyone will see moving forward. It's more about people understanding that I'm not going to be the Steven Gerrard I've been for the last 15 years and going from goalline to goalline at every opportunity.
"It's going to be more of a controlled performance and a role that can help the team win games, rather than trying to rescue games on my own. I do have to get my head around it too, but with Brendan on the training ground every day and speaking to him on a regular basis I think I can make the adaptation really quickly.It's not as though I'm being asked to do something that I've never done before. It is something I have done in the past for England and Liverpool.
"I think a really top performance from me in the next couple of games will make people realise why we are doing this and that maybe it is the right time."
With the most important league derby in years on the immediate horizon and Liverpool's squad as thin as it's been all season, we're left to hope that progress starts to happen as quickly as Gerrard thinks it will. Today especially, they'll need every bit of that control the captain mentions, and whether or not it's going to be a change for the long-term, we can at least be pulling for it to come off successfully in the short-term.
Liverpool's hopes today--and for Champions League qualification--are riding on it.