BRENDAN RODGERS gave a media briefing last week in almost faultless Spanish, pausing to say that at one time in his career he would like to manage in La Liga.
Was he showing off, or seeing if anybody important out there was listening? That is perhaps a question for the future.
But here is one now. Rodgers is facing perhaps the most challenging time of his management at Anfield and, after last night, we must wonder whether he is good enough for the job.
Might he be like the David Moyes of last season, a man who never got to grips with what he inherited?
Against Real Madrid, Rodgers’ side were not only outplayed – they seemed old fashioned.
Liverpool so nearly won the Barclays Premier League title last season, but then, of course, Rodgers was able to call on one of the great goal-scorers of the modern generation.
Luis Suarez was the reason Liverpool were so successful, so good to watch, and Rodgers rode and basked in all the hype and publicity.
But Suarez is no longer at the club, and his replacement, Mario Balotelli, has much to prove to Rodgers as well as the Liverpool support. Can he become a goal-scorer instead of a poseur?
He represents a massive challenge to Rodgers’ ability to get the best out of players, and, could decide where the Reds finish this season, and what becomes of their manager.
And then, on a similar problem front, there is Raheem Sterling, another massively talented player. The thins is he appears lacking the right attitude that could make him the next Kop folk hero.
How does Rodgers deal with a player who has shown signs of indiscipline and petulance? Once again, the Northern Irishman must use diplomatic skills, common sense and manage with a firm, but fair, hand.
Rodgers is new to Liverpool and perhaps he doesn’t yet understand the values of a club which are deeply steeped in tradition.
Allegedly, a friend of Rodgers was not allowed into the boardroom of a club because she was wearing the now fashionable torn jeans.
She, of course, should have been dressed appropriately and Rodgers should have seen to it that she was. Small things are noticed at clubs like Liverpool. Class is far more important than couture.
And what of Rodgers’ team? The defence is not good enough. It was embarrassed by QPR last week, with the same errors aerially being made against Madrid.
And while Balotelli is still finding his way, and Sterling is nowhere near the finished article, Steven Gerrard continues to struggle.
These are the things that will decide whether Rodgers can become an Anfield great. Or, conversely, whether he has been found out. These are issues with which he must now deal.
Tactics? The jury is out on that one. Much will depend on how he handles the Champions League adventure as well as the League form, which has been unconvincing so far and rank bad against QPR.
Rodgers must find a place for Daniel Sturridge when he is fit. Who does he leave out – Balotelli?
It is believed that figures within Manchester City warned Rodgers not to go near the Italian, who had a wretched time at the Etihad. Rodgers ignored the warnings. That’s more pressure.
Until recently, Rodgers has been mentioned in the same breath as England, and we are informed would have gone in as chief coach if Harry Redknapp had been put in charge.
That’s a lot to live up to and he must start showing he is worthy of the praise that has come his way, and can manage without a striker who guarantees goals.
It’s his team now and he will be judged on it.
I must suggest that, on the evidence of the Real Madrid tie, the signs are that Liverpool will face a long hard winter and that Rodgers may discover he is not as good as he thinks he is.
PICTURE COURTESY OF: WBUR Boston