YEP, football’s back. Match fixing, drug use, sulking on the playing area: those Olympics can try your patience at times.
Good to get back to the Premier League, that heady combination of taekwondo, rhythmic gymnastics and, in the form of Andy Carroll, dressage.
There’s nothing quite like the opening day of the season to stir the blood, bringing the hope for all but the blessed few that last season was an aberration, and that this year everything will click into place and see you assume your rightful place near the top of your particular division.
For Liverpool fans, this sense of misplaced optimism is becoming all too familiar, heralded by a succession of new managers, owners or signings. But all too quickly the reality of our position rudely interrupts our hopeful reverie, rips off our rose-tinted glasses and reminds us of the travails ahead.
With Kenny Dalglish having violated what is surely the 28th Amendment to the US Constitution – you shall not waste Americans’ money – the arrival of Brendan Rogers may not have been to everyone’s taste as the next in line to try his hand at reviving our fortunes, but his achievements at Swansea and his studied and humble pronouncements since getting the job have at least built up a bank of respect that was denied to Roy Hodgson from the moment he walked in the door.
His promise of playing Barcelona-style attacking football is an alluring one, which he has tempered wisely by stating that it will take a while to get his ideas across to the players.
On Saturday’s evidence, however, they haven’t been listening to a blind word he’s been saying.
Apart from a bit of harmless keep-ball around the half-way line in the first half, there was no sign of the movement and pressing that typifies Rogers’ preferred style.
The close inter-play between players in and around the penalty area which draws opponents out of position was rarely attempted, whether through lack of confidence or ability I’ll leave you to surmise.
Instead what we saw was, with the exception of Suarez, the usual predictable approach play which was easily suffocated before the goalkeeper was even troubled.
Lucas and Gerrard seemed unsettled by the industry of Allen and unsure of their positioning, while Borini played so wide that he wasn’t so much peripheral as irrelevant.
And of course Downing on the other wing continues to illustrate the irony of bearing the name of alleged money-launderers across his shirt while taking us to the cleaners every week for his wages.
The second-half collapse, albeit under difficult circumstances once Agger had been dispatched and Skrtel unfairly penalised by the fussy Dowd, was merely the natural extension of the disarray that was becoming increasingly apparent, but none the less embarrassing for that. And so we continued last season’s pattern of providing noteworthy statistics around worst starts/runs defeats dating back 30/40/50 years.
Of course it will take time for new players to bed in and for existing players to adapt to new demands. But is it asking too much for a bunch of international footballers to have enough about them to conjure up a decent performance against the likes of West Brom regardless of the unfamiliarity of their formation and tactics?
If they continue to show so little adaptability, then Rogers’ task in turning this round will truly assume Olympian proportions.