BACK in the days before social media, ratios and memes, league tables were withheld prior to the completion of the fourth match of the season – and for good reason. What could possibly be gleaned from looking at the standings after a handful of matches?

Then along came Twitter with its zero-tolerance lads’ banter accounts and binary judgments. The logical conclusion was that it was only a matter of time before a poor run of form became “a slump”, then another three defeats later a benighted manager was facing a full-blown crisis with the campaign only weeks old.

A trio of Premier League bosses already find themselves under serious scrutiny after three games but it is not so much for what has happened at the start of this season as what was happening at the tail end of the last campaign that has them staring down the barrel of a bazooka.

Intriguingly there are affiliations that connect Brendan Rodgers, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, the 1-2-3 in the betting for next Premier League manager to lose his job. Rodgers and Lampard were at Chelsea together, while the latter was an England team-mate of Gerrard’s. Of the trio, Lampard is likely protected most since he has some credit in the bank following Everton’s escape from relegation in May.

Meanwhile, Gerrard played under Rodgers at Liverpool before the pair became rivals in Glasgow as managers of Rangers and Celtic respectively.

Rodgers’ record on the pitch in Scotland is beyond scrutiny but he was not without fault: the appointment of Lee Congerton – at his request – as head of recruitment is a case in point. Congerton brought in Odsonne Edouard and Olivier Ntcham but he also left Celtic counting the cost of a mostly disastrous signing spree which included Marvin Compper, Vakoun Issouf Bayo, Kundai Benyu and assorted others.

Gerrard’s tenure at Rangers is worthy of further examination. His legacy at Ibrox will be forever as the man who stopped 10 in a row but, on reflection, his time at the club was not nearly as successful as it should have been.

He hinted after a Scottish Cup defeat by Hearts that he was ready to leave Rangers right before the 2019/20 season was ended prematurely due to the Covid-19 outbreak, then he got lucky that Celtic found themselves in a chaotic mess – some of which was a result of Congerton’s poor recruitment – the following season. Two domestic cup failures, at the hands of St Mirren and St Johnstone, in that same campaign and a record of just one domestic trophy from a possible nine was a poor return in retrospect.

Despite just seven league wins from a possible 23 in 2022, Gerrard has been insulated thus far by the stock that Christian Purslow placed on him. The Aston Villa chief executive was the architect behind luring him from Rangers but his own words at the time of Gerrard’s appointment are now being exposed by deeds on the pitch.

“I think Steven’s arrival will reignite the club and push us forward,” said Purslow last November. “We have made no secret that this club is one of the tiny number of British clubs to have won the European Cup. That stage, playing in Europe is an exciting dream for our fans. What we expect and what Steven has promised to deliver is continuous improvement in our team and I am certain he will do that.”

Go through Purslow’s checklist and Gerrard has failed in every category: Villa have no identity as a team, established players have regressed and there has been little visible improvement from others.

Meanwhile, they have just three points from three games after a favourable start which suddenly gets a whole lot tougher with West Ham, Arsenal and Manchester City to follow, suggesting their league position of 13th is unlikely to improve much in the weeks ahead.

As for Europe, Villa appear as far away as they were when Gerrard took over.

It is not as if he has not been backed either. This is widely regarded as Villa’s best squad in the Premier League era – albeit the loss of central defender Diego Carlos, a £27 million summer signing from Sevilla, to serious injury has not helped Gerrard’s cause.

The same cannot be said about Rodgers’ predicament at Leicester. Once held up as the standard bearers for how to compete as a second tier club, poor recruitment last summer (Congerton, who followed Rodgers to Leicester, subsequently left in March this year), indifferent form and a looming crisis over numerous player contracts which expire next year or the year after, has caused supporters to call for Rodgers’ head.

Meanwhile, the Northern Irishman has sounded an increasingly exasperated figure as the club’s Thai owners have closed the cheque book on transfer dealings over concerns that they would fail to meet UEFA’s financial fair play rules having made losses of £120m over the past three years.

The whys and wherefores of how they got into this position are for another day but it is sufficient to say that the uncertainty has had a negative impact on Leicester’s start to the season. Rodgers spent the summer talking to potential recruits only to be informed that he would have to sell before he could buy. So far those efforts have amounted to little.

There are comparisons with what finally brought Rodgers’ time at Celtic to an end. Frustration over a failed move for then West Brom defender Craig Dawson was seen as a tipping point for the Irishman but this time around he has nowhere to jump to and, thus far, the Leicester hierarchy appears to be in no rush to remove him.

The same can be said for Gerrard who still seems to have the backing of Purslow and Villa owners Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris.

But for how long? It took just seven games for Watford to sack Xisco Munoz last season and 11 for Villa to dispense with Dean Smith thus paving the way for Gerrard’s arrival.

Remember: a full-blown crisis is only ever three games away; it may be even fewer for Gerrard and Rodgers.