Liverpool's stated goal for the season has been a top four finish that would secure Champions League qualification for the first time in years. The club are on track to meet this goal — the math(s) checks out and everything — but manager Brendan Rodgers has suggested Liverpool are a year ahead of schedule in their rebuilding plan, despite these stated goals.
"I have talked about it since day one, just being in the conversation this year," Rodgers said in an interview with ex-Red turned pundit Jamie Carragher. "Enough times [Carra] and I would have looked at the table last year and we were never even in the top, or you would listen to the radio on the way home from games and we were never talked about, so it is good for us to be in the conversation.
"I feel that there is still a long way for this team to go, we are still building something here and to get in the top four this year would probably be a year early from what I was thinking, but you cannot always plan perfectly. We have had a terrific season up to now and we can only get better."
It's not exactly clear why Rodgers suddenly feels that top four was never in the plans for this year, especially at a point in the season when Liverpool's grasp on Champions League qualification is stronger than it has been since they last qualified in 2009. Tempering expectations and practicing the one-game-at-a-time mantra is part of a manager's PR toolkit, but it seems an odd time to be realigning the club's aspirations.
Making progress faster than one might have expected is certainly a good problem to have, of course — Champions League title in 2016, here we come! — and as bad as the season may have felt in places, the points have added up and the numbers don't lie. Liverpool are still undefeated in 2014, and while a pair of upcoming games against Arsenal might change that, the overall outlook on the season is still quite sunny.