Very little has gone according to plan for Liverpool this season outside of the friendly against Dortmund to finish off the preseason and an away win at Spurs just ahead of the first international break. That effectively leaves Brendan Rodgers' side with one really good performance that actually counts, and a whole heap of forgettable performances through the first three months of the campaign.
Unsurprisingly, few have covered themselves in glory to this point, with a handful on the receiving end of consistent criticism. Dejan Lovren's led the pack for most, failing to follow up on what was an very good debut season at Southampton with a number of disappointing displays for Liverpool. Rodgers clearly prefers him alongside Martin Skrtel, but so far his preference hasn't paid off, and there's a growing sentiment that the Croatian isn't the first-choice center-back Rodgers clearly thinks he is.
That judgment comes too early for Jamie Carragher, though, who feels that the manager needs to stick with his manregardless of the difficulties he's had settling in:
"I thought he was excellent for Southampton last season and that is the reason Liverpool bought him but every manager has a different way of doing things. Liverpool's full-backs are more offensive and so are going to leave you more exposed, that could be something to look at because Brendan Rodgers likes his full-backs to get forward.
"He is proven in the Premier League last season and showed he is a very good centre-back, he showed that a lot, but it is difficult for him at the moment - it is difficult for them all - but they will come through it. When you pay that much money for a centre-back you have to persist with it and get him through it. Get Lovren to learn your values but it is also about getting to know him and playing to his strengths and weaknesses."
Carragher goes on to highlight the return of Mamadou Sakho from injury as a possible mediating factor; the French center-half has been out of action for weeks but should be available before November's over, leaving Rodgers with choices to make if his ailing defense doesn't find their way through the wilderness. Sakho's no shrinking violet, either, going on record recently with his intentions to lead Liverpool from the back once he's back to full fitness.
In the meantime, patience will have to be the name of the game for Dejan Lovren and Liverpool as a whole. Lovren's struggled, yes, but he's certainly not alone, and he's one of many who need to be far more convincing if Liverpool are going to enter the new year on firmer footing.