Liverpool’s display against Tottenham on Sunday was seen as a chance to prove their intentions to challenge for trophies this season.
Kenny Dalglish had spent over £100 million building the team the ran onto the pitch at White Hart Lane, and spirits in the Reds’ side were at an all time high.
As the whistle sounded to signal the end of the game though, the looks on Liverpool players’ faces told a different story. The Anfield club had been dominated in every position of the pitch, and a 4-0 thrashing was not the only thing they had to take home – suspensions for Martin Skrtel and Charlie Adam after the pair received red cards also loomed.
Pundits were at a loss to describe how a team with so much hope had disappointed on every level, and Tottenham, meanwhile, are now looking like Champions League contenders, despite having a mixed start to the season.
And now Jamie Carragher believes that Steven Gerrard could be the missing piece of the puzzle, with the defender telling reporters: "His presence will give everyone a lift. It's disappointing, of course, that he has missed the start of the new season, but what a player we now have to come back to help.
"I speak to him on a daily basis, so I know how much he has wanted to get back. That is what makes him the player he is. He is just so desperate to be part of the new scene."
But Gerrard will hardly solve all of Liverpool’s problems. A host of other injuries are affecting the squad, with Glen Johnson and Martin Kelly out, and Daniel Agger having broken his ribs.
And Adam and Skrtel’s displays against the superior Gareth Bale, which contributed to a double sending off, showed a great weakness in the side’s defence.
The seven summer signings at Liverpool, which came to around £65 million, clearly haven’t fully adjusted to playing as a team yet. Tottenham, meanwhile, only made three big signings, equating to £5 million, and between Emmanuel Adebayor, Scott Parker and Brad Friedel, the squad have improved to no end.
Andy Carroll also has yet to show some of the magic he displayed at Newcastle to warrant his £35 million price tag, with rumours doing the rounds that his lifestyle is affecting his performances.
Liverpool will no doubt have their spirits lifted by Gerrard’s return, and while the midfielder is a star on the pitch as well as off it, he has continually been held back by injuries. If Dalglish is relying on him to make a difference in the long term, he should hope for a bit of luck along with Gerrard’s talent as Liverpool regroup.
Liverpool have an easier fixture this weekend, with the side taking on Wolves, and should they win, they will be able to move closer to turning their season around.
But Gerrard won’t be the overwhelming difference to an invigorated Reds side on Saturday; if they do come out and win, and their big players start to show their potential and prove the nay-sayers wrong, Dalglish will be the one who deserves the most praise, not Gerrard.