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When Patience Is Not a Virtue

In a time of complete mediocrity in the Premier League, Liverpool should play a game of wait and see.

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Arsenal have had their worst start in the Premier League after losing at home to Manchester United and haven't done as badly at this stage since 1982. Manchester United's Louis van Gaal has picked up fewer points (two) after 12 games in comparison to David Moyes last season. Both have been unconvincing on 19 points but are only five points ahead of Liverpool; Everton and Tottenham lie only three points ahead. Manchester City have lost two league games already to trail Chelsea by eight points after nearly a third of the season gone. This season has been strange but the purported top six or seven is full of teams that can be exposed, attacked, and beaten.

Pointing to Arsenal's worst start is hardly inspiring, as talk surrounding Arsène Wenger's effectiveness as manager has been highlighted from a notable figure within the club. Arsenal generally do just enough but that may be just beyond Wenger's current crop. As for Manchester United, David Moyes drew game 13, lost both games 14 and 15, and was under far greater pressure as successor to one of the game's greatest ever managers. Van Gaal would be expected to surpass 21 points with games against Hull (h), Stoke (h), and Southampton (a) coming up. Tottenham appear to lack identity with many players who lack the necessary fire after years of being accustomed to a climate where the manager leaves soon enough, and Everton are decent, nothing more. Pointing to the failings of others actually makes Liverpool's current crisis look even worse.

The competition is not very good, but Liverpool cannot even trundle alongside such average and uninspiring sides. Southampton have been the big surprise and their draw away to Aston Villa ahead of a tough set of fixtures, leaves Ronald Koeman's side on 26 points. Except for Chelsea, none of England's European representatives have shown anything of substance sourced from either big transfer signings, somewhat sound changes in leadership, managerial stability, or inroads made last season under young and talented managers. Is this the best the Premier League has to offer in the Champions League and Europa League?

Liverpool have lost a lot of games this season with performances, decisions, and results all just unacceptable. However, we cannot view these set of disappointing results in isolation. Liverpool exist in a climate where a few results can propel a manager seemingly on the brink of losing his job to flavour of the month with a side over-performing and playing full of confidence. To José Mourinho's predictable annoyance, this manager will obviously become the leading candidate for manager of the month and inevitably win it with members of the press hailing "an amazing turnaround" in glorious unison. The next X-Men film may begin the Age of Apocalypse, 2015's Avengers sequel brings the Age of Ultron, and the Premier League has entered the Age of Mediocrity.

What does this mean for Brendan Rodgers? Nothing yet, except for carry on and see what you can do in this era of lowered expectations, where the league has the weakest fourth-placed side in terms of points since the early 1980s. Liverpool don't have to make a decision as there's none to make at this stage with a manager who has shown progress in his two seasons at the club. Stability means riding a few rough months out but getting through that to continue a general story of progress but doesn't mean a few rough months followed by a couple more with no improvement in sight. Wouldn't it be a shame to change a long-term strategy after 26 months based on just three months of struggles?

Brendan Rodgers looks like he has a lot to do but only has to be the manager he has shown himself to be in his Liverpool tenure to date: be open to change and respond fairly quickly after making mistakes. Liverpool's poor defending is a long-term problem, one he must remedy along with restoring a side that boasted a solid attack in his first season that blossomed in a romantic yet unsuccessful title challenge in 2013/14. This isn't blindly following a manager but giving a plan time to breathe. Patience here isn't a virtue but a sensible game of wait and see.

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