Liverpool looked an improved side against Norwich City on the weekend. Manager Brendan Rodgers played something at least resembling what most fans would consider his strongest eleven. Some may have quibbled over going with three at the back rather than four, but in the end, the side he put out created enough that they really should have won the match.
The problem, of course, is that in the end they didn't win the match. Despite an improved performance and better tactics, they only managed a draw against newly promoted Norwich City. At Anfield. And, by the end of it, a smattering of boos could be heard echoing around the stadium. By the end, the Norwich supporters sang about Rodgers being sacked in the morning and Liverpool's stayed quiet.
"If you give him that much money and then say after eight league games you want to make the change, you just think they should have just done it in the summer," said ex-Red Jamie Carragher following Sunday's match, explaining why he believes the Liverpool manager is safe for at least the time being despite some disappointing results and a growing sense of unease amongst supporters at Anfield.
Many fans would agree. Many others, though, would hear that and wish Fenway Sports Group had pulled the trigger on sacking Rodgers after last season's disappointing results. Many would say that in year four, having yet to win anything at the club, it's too late to write off slow starts as yet another rebuilding. It's too late for a positive showing against a newly promoted side to count for anything.
Not when it follows a pair of crushing defeats to West Ham and Manchester United. Not when it follows a middling start to the season that saw Liverpool grinding out middling results while playing terrible football. Not when, despite that improved performance and that Rodgers' side finally created chances and looked the best they yet have this season, it still results in a disappointing 1-1 draw.
Still, while the context of the improved performance against Norwich—the result and the recent results and the results of last season—may mean that improvement doesn't count for a great deal for a great many, it was an improved performance. And Carragher is certain that, after the backing Rodgers got last summer, he is going to be given the chance to build on that in the coming weeks.
"There was talk of him going towards the end of last season, but they decided to give him the benefit of the doubt," he said. "They've backed him with money. He's got to get longer than eight to ten games now; probably closer to Christmas. But in their last 18 games, they haven't scored more than one goal, and that's a problem for a manager who is more of an attacking manager like Brendan Rodgers."