Just hours into his Liverpool Premier League career Brendan Rodgers was a man under siege. Ushered into a corridor to field the inevitable barrage of questions, the manager was lost for words as he tried to relay positivity despite a wretched 3-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion.
He looked tired and frustrated at his side's capitulation, talking of budget constraints and hard work. With both the Manchester giants and Arsenal to play in the coming weeks, it might be that the days get darker before Liverpool hit their stride. The upcoming fixtures, though, do not concern the manager. "You have to play them," he said, "that's the nature of football. You have to win games. We're bitterly disappointed now, of course, but we'll use that as a lever to move on and learn from it."
Judging by the tone of Rodgers' answers, there seems to be a belief that Liverpool have been mismanaged in the past, and while he is not in the business of lowering expectations, there may be an acceptance that in order to go forward the club may first have to endure a few more outings like Saturday. "The reality is that the team finished eighth last year and there are reasons behind that," he said. "I've always said we need to bring in one or two but [we have] to work with the players that are here. I know what my limitations are in terms of budget."
The Northern Irishman's task at Anfield is epitomised by the Joe Cole conundrum. One of Liverpool's highest earners, Cole has been welcomed back after a productive season on loan in France with Lille. But after an injury-free pre-season the midfielder has already had two setbacks and lasted just 13 minutes at The Hawthorns before being brought off with a hamstring complaint.
A stunning Zoltan Gera half-volley alongside goals from Peter Odemwingie and Romelu Lukaku, and the dismissal of Daniel Agger, gave the new manager a start to life with the Reds he would rather forget. Rodgers plans to appeal against the red card, but admitted that West Bromwich deserved their win.