Mario Cuomo, former Governor of New York famously said, 'You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose.' It kind of reminds me where Liverpool - and Brendan - are at this juncture. Except the prose is littered with mistakes, lacks fluency and coherence and worst of all, has no bite.
Managing this Club also involves managing expectations. Gérard tried to do it towards the end of his reign, revising downwards our Championship aspirations and trying to establish Fourth as the (un)Holy Grail. Rodgers too, was at it last season, understandably so, to be fair to him, given the monumental loss of Luis and Daniel's long-term absence. And he'll no doubt be at the same thing soon given this season's start.
That's the thing, though. On the 27th of April 2014, scarcely 18 months ago, L4 was thronged with 45,000 Reds EXPECTING to win the Title. Jesus, even the following week against Palace, when we went 3-0 up, the pre-game hope fleetingly became expectation. We went into the last game of the season with a chance to win the Title, however slim. We've come from those heady heights to there being literally no expectation of anything positive this season. And worse than that, no hope, the breadcrumb we all feed off during every pre-season.
So, amid the mounting criticism of his 'reign', let there not be talk of 'knee-jerk reactions'. Or the word 'support' being in the word 'supporter'. This problem, this imminent crisis, has been festering for over two years. The defensive problems have never been addressed. Let it be repeated: we conceded FIFTY goals in that 2013-2014 season. Yes, we scored a ton (literally!) but that was because of a perfect storm, with Luis responsible for some of the best football ever seen at Anfield. The more time goes by, the less Brendan seems responsible for any of those glorious days.
Last season we conceded nearly as many goals (48) and scored almost 50 fewer!
Worst of all, a fourth-place finish would be seen as an achievement! This is what managing expectations is all about: lower the bar far enough that you can jump over it. Get the fans (and the owners) to expect nothing. Thus, by giving them anything, they'll keep quiet. Except, that doesn't really work at Anfield. We mightn't expect to win every time, but we expect to, y'know, try. Yesterday, we didn't even seem to be trying any more.
Talking to mates after the game, none of us could figure out what Rodgers was trying. But I don't think he knows himself! It reminds me of the worst excesses of the Houllier days, where Vladimir would play up front and Heskey would be out on the wing (Newcastle away and yes, I am still bitter). For those two, read Benteke and Ings. It's hard enough to win football matches, but when you play to players' weaknesses and not their strengths, the task becomes doubly difficult.
Panic seeps through every pore of this team. From our keeper, right down the spine. To coin a phrase, in 'defender' is the word 'defend'. If Lovren and Skrtel are the answer, then I want to know the question. Can can't. Milner and Lucas toil, but we need inspiration rather than perspiration. If Coutinho (who'll leave next summer anyway) doesn't do it, then who will? How many goalscorers were in our team yesterday?
Go to Old Trafford and get beaten by all means. But not in this manner. It's never nice losing to them, but at least when they were good, we knew there was nothing we could do. That's not the case now. They're a bad team too. A bad team we never looked like threatening.
You can do what you want when you're winning. You can say what you want in press conferences. Everything sounds good, inspired even. But when results are thin on the ground, when performances are a thing of yesteryear, when the only palpitations are when your own defenders play it around amongst themselves, that's when you've got to stop floundering, that's when the excuses have got to stop, that's when you've got to stop pulling the wool over our eyes.
You're lucky to still have this job. You're privileged to have it. So do it justice. Play your (they're all YOUR players now) best men. Try to win football matches. Manage the team. We'll manage our expectations.