As Brendan Rodgers tucked himself into bed on Friday night, never in his worst nightmares could he have conjured up how his first Premier League match in charge of Liverpool would unfold.
It was supposed to be a routine victory at The Hawthrons, a ground Liverpool have relished playing at in the past. It was supposed to be a chance to build on the pre season optimism, to impress fans and pundits with a performance and to implement the new ‘philosophy’ Rodgers has been preaching about ever since he walked through the famous Anfield gates.
Instead, mayhem followed. Three goals, two penalties and a red card later, Liverpool and Rodgers were walking back to the dressing room knowing they had suffered their heaviest opening day defeat since 1937.
If Rodgers was under any illusions as to how difficult a task it would be to awake this sleeping giant, he certainly wasn’t anymore. His post match comments certainly suggested he was more than aware of the enormous task in front of him.
“I knew the task was a big challenge, but obviously when you lose a game like we did on Saturday then it’s difficult to take,” said the Northern Irishman.
“I’ve known along the way it’s a big challenge and that’s something we need to make right.
“We are bitterly disappointed, but we’ll use that as a lever and learn from it, and go again.
“There are going to be more days of hurt as well, in terms of where we are trying to go.”
Rodgers added: “You never like to lose a game to have anything proven to the fans. Our supporters are very educated supporters, they know where we’re at.
“For 45 minutes we played some terrific stuff, and should have been in front.
“But we didn’t, and we lost the game. All managers want time but I understand the pressures of this game.”
Rodgers was backed up in his assessment of the game by his iconic captain Steven Gerrard, who insisted it was ‘no time for panic.’
” It’s only the first game and it was one bad day at the office.
“We’ve got to look at the bigger picture. There’s been so much hope around the place and rightly so.
“After a 3-0 defeat everyone is going to be concerned. It’s important that the likes of myself and the other experienced players take responsibility for a poor defeat.
“We have to put it behind us. We’ve got to dust ourselves down and bounce back against Hearts (in the Europa League) on Thursday night.
“We have to react in the right manner and look to put things right in the coming games.”
It had all been going so well for Rodgers and Liverpool up until this point, with optimism high amongst supporters following some good pre season results and performances.
Fabio Borini, Joe Allen and Oussama Assaidi had been added to the ranks, and talks of Nuri Sahin joining on loan from Real Madrid was the hot topic of conversation amongst fans, although now it seems the Turk is destined for the Emirates.
It seems Rodgers is going to have to bring in some more faces if his side are to mount any sort of challenge to to the top four, and prove that Saturday was a minor blip.
The main problem seems to lie in front of goal. Luis Suarez could have easily bagged himself a hat-trick on Saturday, but failed to even hit the target with three clear cut opportunities inside the box. Two were free headers, which makes you wonder what the story would have been had Andy Carroll been given the opportunity from the start.
With so much changing off the pitch for Liverpool, Saturday showed not much has changed on it as failure to finish countless chances again proved costly.
There is no doubting the ability of Luis Suarez, but in all honesty his finishing leaves a lot to be desired. He scored under 10% of his chances last season and bagged 11 Premier League goals.
It seems Liverpool are still a top class finisher short of realising their ambitions. Rodgers clearly doesn’t fancy Carroll, which is a shame considering the form he showed towards the back end of last season and during the Euro’s.
A poacher in the mould of Jermaine Defoe or Darren Bent would have put the game out of sight by half time on Saturday, and when you think of all those near misses last season and how costly they proved, it is remarkable a goal scoring striker has not been seen as a priority.
Fabio Borini has been bought in but is operating on the left of a front three. With Downing not offering much at present, you feel a front three of Suarez Borini and Carroll could be the way forward for Rodgers. However, the fact Joe Cole was bought on ahead of the big number 9 with Liverpool 2-0 down and looking for a goal, suggests Carroll does not have a future at Anfield.
It is too early to draw conclusions, but perhaps the most worrying aspect following Saturday’s defeat was the tough run of fixtures Liverpool have to follow. Rodgers next four opportunities to get it right come against Manchester City, Arsenal, Sunderland and Manchester United.
It is not all doom and gloom for Liverpool. A positive result against Manchester City and everything changes. It is important the fans get behind Rodgers and the team, and do their best to make Anfield a fortress once again this season.
Rodgers has the spine of a fantastic team. A top goalkeeper in Reina, two fine centre backs in Skrtel and Agger, and the England full back in Johnson set the basis of a top defence.
The return to fitness of Lucas Leiva will prove crucial, whilst Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez need no introduction.
If Rodgers is smart in the remaining days of the transfer window, and a finisher is bought in, it could yet be a season to remember for Liverpool.