Did anything really change after the result against West Ham United? Sure, Liverpool lost to West Ham at Anfield for the first time in over fifty years, but a stirring victory wouldn't have unequivocally confirmed that Rodgers has what it takes to lead Liverpool to the land of milk and honey. A comprehensive defeat at home may not be the confirmation of excruciating inadequacy in the leadership of Brendan Rodgers, but doubts have quickly, and understandably, risen once again.
Of last season's top seven, only Manchester City have convinced. Southampton didn't qualify for the Europa League and won a Premier League game in 15/16 at the fourth time of asking against Norwich City. Chelsea, the reigning champions, have lost half their league games so far. Tottenham Hotspur, a team that have finished above Liverpool quite a bit in recent years, are without a win. Arsenal and Manchester United are only above Brendan Rodgers' side by virtue goal difference.
There is still time for many clubs to improve, and Merseyside's finest offerings could make September gains from a position of relative strength. A pertinent problem lies in the fact that Liverpool's games at Anfield feel like end of last season. Quibbling with the way Liverpool secured away points is unnecessary, because it's no easy task to snare four points at the Britannia and the Emirates. A negative goal difference of eight from those two games last season is now plus one in 2015/16. Rodgers has it all to do, though, to convince as Liverpool manager. A few positive or negative results will shift opinion further into the realms progress or crisis, and the level of performances over the course of the next month will count.
There's no credit in the bank for Rodgers to expect anything different. Away games against Manchester United and Bordeaux kick off September before four straight home games, which takes Liverpool to ten competitive games in the season before the derby at Goodison Park. While others have already made their minds up about the manager, an entirely reasonable approach after three complete seasons, this fan is prepared to wait for further signs. Even after ten competitive games, a complete picture may not have fully emerged. What we will know, though, is whether this side operates in a different manner to one that probably should have resulted in Rodgers losing his job.
Take the example of Southampton last season, a club that started Premier League life last season with a narrow loss away to Liverpool and a draw at home to West Bromwich Albion. What came next? Eight wins in nine league games from late August to early November. A draw and four successive defeats deflated growing talk of an unlikely title challenge, but another burst of excellent form restored hopes of a possible top four finish. After the first month of the season, it was apparent that Koeman was working effectively in constructing a good, organised side.
To the Dutch manager's credit, upheaval in the summer should have made his job almost impossible. Although Champions League qualification was beyond Southampton, a season of genuine progress was made. In defeat, they usually looked competitive. A loss is a loss, but when a club's fans and owners begin to scrutinise a manager closely, how unfortunate losses appear begin to matter. Unfortunately, Rodgers will not be judged on this season in isolation as Koeman was last season even if that might be an approach worth taking. The Northern Irishman needs to show that he is the right manager for the present as we're living in the future he spoke of in previous years.
The worst home defeat since losing 3-0 at home to West Bromwich Albion in April 1965 was chastening. An unwanted record so early in the season carries a familiar stench from 2014/15, one that possesses a far fouler odour after the timid and insipid response to losing at home to Manchester United in March. Liverpool have been beaten well in five of the club's last six losses in the league, and the loss to West Ham was just as rancid as last season's potentially defining losses to Crystal Palace and Stoke City in terms of margins, performances, and in-game managerial changes. The home win against AFC Bournemouth was was as unconvincing as it gets against a newly-promoted side.
Liverpool's early and good work in the summer, much of which Rodgers was involved with to his credit, should have changed this with a new coaching set-up to provide fresher and more astute support to a young manager. The players brought in to start regularly were largely, with the exception of the excellent Raheem Sterling, significant upgrades on those they replaced. Yet Liverpool looked so dangerous against Arsenal and possessed the requisite doggedness against Stoke. It is these competing forces in a young season that leave this writer unsure of where to firmly stand.
Arguments for and against the manager all seem enlightened enough, but it must be noted that such considerable support over the summer was not given just to pull the plug on the Rodgers era after a matter of months. Since the days of the nicest of guys otherwise known as Roy Evans, no manager has inspired my support as much as Brendan Rodgers. I desperately want the current manager to succeed but will not expect or want the club to reward failure, especially after a fourth season that can only be described as contrary to the lack of patience in terms of time and support generally given by football hierarchies in the modern game.