As disappointing as Liverpool’s start to the new season has been, manager Brendan Rodgers is refusing to press the panic button just yet.
Having finished second to Manchester City in the race for the title last season, there was hope in the red half of Merseyside that they could go one better this time round. Even accounting for the loss of star player Luis Suarez, this optimism wasn’t dimmed when Rodgers was allowed to spend heavily to bolster his squad for the challenges of the campaign.
The Reds began with a narrow win against Southampton, but were then given a reminder of what they will be up against in terms of wrestling the crown from Manchester when they lost to the champions 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium. They bounced back in fashion with a 4-0 win at Tottenham Hotspur, before suffering a shock home loss to Aston Villa.
The Anfield club were back in action on Saturday evening when they travelled to the capital to take on West Ham United, but were again second best as Sam Allardyce’s side recorded a 3-1 win. This has raised further question marks over Liverpool’s ability to fight for a first title since 1990 this term, but Rodgers remains confident in the quality of his players.
“It hasn’t been a great start by any means, but I have worked with the team enough and I know the players and how they do respond,” he told the official club website. “That honesty in the group and how hard they want to work, it gives me great hope. It is a long campaign and we’ve got a lot of games. As I said, we haven’t made a great start by any means, but we’ll improve. We’ve shown in my time here, my team will get better in the second half of the season.
“We can be much better. We’re still looking to find our performance level, which apart from Tottenham we haven’t quite been at. But it’s something I have no doubt about. We’ve been here before. When I first came in, there were a lot of games and new players coming in and, at that time, it was a new manager, but we eventually got to where we wanted to be.”
Rodgers and co turn their attention to the League Cup next with the visit of Championship side Middlesbrough on Tuesday night, and then they welcome neighbours Everton to Anfield for the first Merseyside derby of the season. The Toffees, who have aspirations of a top-four finish this term, have also endured a difficult start to the campaign, having won just one of their opening five matches and collecting only five points.
Despite going so close in the race for the title last season, should Liverpool just set their sights on a top-four finish at best this time round?