Liverpool have needed to be better for most of the past three months. In attack, midfield, and defense, from top to bottom, it's simply not been good enough, and there haven't been any quick fixes. Brendan Rodgers has come under fire the past few weeks for his hesitancy to ring in any sort of significant changes to the squad or general approach, and while cries for a dismissal are a bit premature, those underlining a need for the manager to adapt what's clearly an ineffective approach are more than justified in their concern.
Rodgers can't do much about who's in his squad at the present time, with injuries ruling out his first- and second-choice strikers and those playing regularly--or at least those selected in the starting eleven regularly--failing to produce at a level that can be deemed anything close to acceptable. There are plenty of obvious areas of concern, but what exactly Rodgers will do about them remains to be seen.
This close to the winter transfer window attentions understandably turn to players not currently at Liverpool, as midseason spending is often viewed as a chance to quickly cure whatever's ailing the club at the current moment. And while that might be in full swing for supporters, it isn't the case for Rodgers, who struck a focused figure in his pre-match presser on Tuesday:
'It (buying new players) is not something I am looking at. After the weekend, the focus was not to dwell on that. We have to learn from that and try and get a result here. I just need to get us back to a level of confidence that allows you to perform. Losing can be the making of you. You learn from it. That is what we are aiming to do.'
Rodgers' side was characterised last season by the intensity of their play, but that seems to have disappeared, and the former Swansea boss is intent on regaining that confidence. When you don't have so much coaching time, it is mostly psychological what you are trying to achieve. If we focus on that too much there is no way we could play to our level.
'We need to make sure the training ground is a happy place to be. We have lost more than we would have liked. But the next game is an opportunity. You try to affect the players in a positive way. Sometimes it just takes a game, an action to change a season for you. We have to believe that can happen. We haven't been anywhere near our levels. But you can never give up. We have to believe that the honesty of the group will get us the results and that is what we will keep working towards.'
Some have taken this to mean that the boss expects there to be no action in the January window, but unless there's something missing, it doesn't appear to be indicative of anything other than focus on the task at hand rather than an asinine slideshow of the 42 Top Transfer Targets Linked with Liverpool in November. With his squad struggling of late, one would hope that Rodgers is attentive to those currently with the squad, especially publicly, and there's little fault with what he's said here.
As always, there can be debate about public words versus private, and just how much confident club ownership retains in the manager after a disappointing start to the season. But Brendan Rodgers has at least been making all the right noises in response to the loss at Crystal Palace, and hopefully both his and the squad are able to turn things around quickly enough to push transfer talk into the background with a solid finish to the 2014 calendar year.