Flowery language, miserable characters, regular preoccupations with the fouler aspects of existence, and predictions of doom belong elsewhere. Everything is probably the worst and may be for some time. This is probably the most depressing time to be a fan, as a stream of games serve up either a performance or a result considerably below expectations. Even after a poor run of form, a game appears where fans think that their cherished side will win by default to their own disgust. It's not what they want to want but will take it anyway. When desired results don't arrive even in those circumstances, frustration has to be directed somewhere. When fans start being realistic in their short-terms aspirations, and they still remain beyond the club, there will be problems.
Brendan Rodgers and his players haven't shown their best qualities so far this season; they are capable of much more. There is a notable difference in the criticism of players and manager this season. In Rodgers' first season, fans could point to the lack of quality and depth available with which Rodgers could use for the benefit of our pride and happiness. Even the biggest critics in the fanbase would accede to the fact that Liverpool should be performing better with the quality in the squad. The players may not be good enough to win the title, they may not be sharp enough to comfortably claim an automatic Champions League qualification spot, they may not be much better than some of the other clubs vying for a top four spot, but they are better than this. Whatever their struggles are, Rodgers is involved and could perform better to help them help us!
As for the man in charge, his problems are his own. Sure, the players may fear another muted Anfield atmosphere where errors are met with groans from a hopeful yet seemingly beleaguered crowd, but they do not face questions after the game. One or two may provide interviewers with some stock phrases with beads of sweat dangling from ruffled brows, yet their experience of pressure is different to the manager's. There are instances when a player lives a luckless and artless existence on the field that garners ridicule before, during, and after matches. Maybe a striker isn't being given the right service from wingers or just needs a regular partner to flourish. A player's problems are the manager's problems.
The manager, however, generally stands alone. When managers are under pressure, they'll often find novel ways of explaining decisions and handling interviews; this is the life of a manager. Brendan Rodgers has been doing just that recently but what else should he do? Liverpool have finally reached the Champions League thanks to his award-winning management last season, had a lot of money to reinvest in the squad in the summer transfer window, currently posses decent depth in key positions, can look forward to an improved stadium in the next few years, have young players coming through under a manager who has handled them impressively, and aren't in a position where selling players is part of club strategy. In short, Brendan Rodgers has a decent gig and has played his part in creating that environment.
Whether you think Rodgers talks too much or not, his comments relating to Chelsea, Southampton, and Tottenham Hotspur have put more pressure on his shoulders. He hasn't built a side that understands the basics of defending and Southampton look more like a Champions League side than Liverpool do, despite the fact that the Merseyside club raided its south coast Premier League colleague for a number of key players. How the hell does that work? What's even more annoying than the foolish and flagrant mistakes your supposedly omniscient boss makes everyday, is that Liverpool just might be doing a "Tottenham". In fact, we might just be doing a "Liverpool": finish second and completely implode the following season.
This is the problem for Brendan Rodgers, because Liverpool have been wretched since August when there's no excuse. Luis Suárez and Daniel Sturridge are considerable absences, Steven Gerrard's set-pieces are now as threatening as England in the knock-out stages of an international tournament, Philippe Coutinho hasn't been at his best, Jordan Henderson's dynamism as well as verticality is on holiday, and Raheem Sterling's sparkling start to the season has been flogged out of him. Rodgers could count on all of those key pieces to promulgate his "way of working" last season ... no longer.
The defending, the management of the captain, the integration of Adam Lallana, the way squad rotation has maddeningly ossified, the absence of threat in attack, the failure to make in-game changes to provide players with support to chase or protect a result, the stubbornness which appears to be part of incompetence, and a perplexing erosion of any points of strength only witnessed earlier in the year are all mainly on the shoulders of Brendan Rodgers. He needs more from his three key "mature" signings who were pencilled in to start regularly: Mario Balotelli, Dejan Lovren, and Adam Lallana. Whether they're being assisted enough by colleagues or staff is debatable, but Liverpool need more from them. The youngsters will be okay as flippant that sounds, and by signing them, we must understand and accept Liverpool are playing a longer game.
Yet one must give the Antrim man his due, for it is he who shaped such a surprising and enthralling season that brought Liverpool closest to finally ending a weary, long title drought. Liverpool haven't been that ruthless or exciting since Kenny Dalglish's fantastic side in the late eighties. If you've watched Liverpool under Graeme Souness, Roy Evans, Gerard Houllier, Rafa Benítez, Roy Hodgson, and the return of the King, then you'll know that not one of them brought Liverpool closer than Brendan Rodgers. That counts for something but doesn't change the fact that Liverpool are in a crisis.
It's all going wrong for Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers has to fix it. He has the players, and frustratingly, possesses the vision and philosophy to improve both results and performances over the next month. Liverpool have ten games from the game against Stoke City up to, and including, the game against Leicester City to start 2015. There are those who claim that he should be given until the end of the season, but after what we've witnessed so far, wouldn't a good manager respond to the side's current perils over the next ten games? With the variety of sides that lay in wait, a continuation of what has been offered in autumn could provide Brendan Rodgers with an even lonelier road in 2015.