Imagine you are Brendan Rodgers for a minute.
Are you there yet? Great.
You’ve just led Liverpool to their best finish in five years, during a season when even the most ardent Scouse baiters could do little but sit back in awe at the explosive, dynamic football coming out of Anfield.
For the first time since the birth of the Premier League over two decades ago, the Reds had the title in their hands with three games of the campaign left, after a remarkable run of 11 wins on the bounce coming at a combined scoreline of 38 goals to 15.
Alas, an under-resourced squad ahead of schedule could not go on to lift the title by extending that winning run to 14, with Liverpool eventually finishing sandwiched between mega-spending pair Manchester City and Chelsea in second.
Get all that? Good. Now imagine that just over six months later, reports are coming through from Italy that your job is on the line. Worse, former Reds boss Rafa Benitez is the 7/1 favourite to take over.
Confused? How do you think Rodgers feels?
To be fair, a couple of red tops drumming up nonsensical rumours during an international break shouldn’t cause the Northern Irishman much concern, and the chunky price about the favourite is indicative of Rodgers’ chances of getting the heave-ho.
Still, the notion that Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group might turn to Benitez or a tactician of his ilk if Rodgers is deemed surplus to requirements should strike fear into the Anfield faithful.
Benitez may have brought a measure of success in his six seasons with the club, the 2005 European Cup being the highlight, but his Reds sides rarely displayed anything like the attacking verve showcased by Rodgers’ men last term.
The Spaniard largely relied on the ‘Alonso-Gerrard-Torres’ axis to attack teams directly, knowing the ball-playing ability of the feted trio and their ability to make it stick up front, while high-end water carriers such as Dirk Kuyt, Momo Sissoko and Javier Mascherano ran themselves ragged.
The slick, passing football Rodgers has promoted since taking over less than two-and-a-half years ago would disappear under the Spaniard; for example, exciting-but-raw Spanish full-back Alberto Moreno would no doubt be replaced by a converted centre-half in the Alvaro Arbeloa mould.
That would be palatable if results were guaranteed, but all known form suggests nothing of the sort.
Benitez is forgiven a seventh-place finish in his last term in England, due to the hellish end to the Tom Hicks/George Gillet era at Liverpool, but he can’t hide from his record in Italy.
He left then-Serie A, Champions League and Coppa Italia holders Inter 13 points off top spot in seventh place in December 2010, 15 league matches into his Nerazurri coaching career, before taking over at Napoli 18 months ago.
The sum total of Benitez’s achievements with the Partenopei have been a third-place finish last season, 24 points behind Scudetto winners Juventus, and two early Champions League exits, with Athletic Bilbao condemning Napoli to Europe League ignominy before August was done this term.
Benitez has even lost his touch in Europe, so what could Liverpool possibly see in him now?