Bad season? No. Good season? No.
People keep harping on about how when Kenny first came in he turned our season around and we were 'much better' than this season. There are a number of reasons for that. Firstly, bringing a legend in that gave freedom to the players completely changed the mental attitude. Secondly, we had only an outside chance of CL footie, so we had little to play for, realistically. But more importantly, we had a number of established players who hit form together (Raul, Maxi, Kuyt, Lucas etc).
The thing that people often forget is that despite the good performances in the second half of last season, we still needed an overhaul. Those results were still masking a problem. Maxi and Kuyt are towards the ends of their careers, so they need replacing. Raul didn't want to stay and regardless of a purple patch, was poor for most of the season (this has since been shown at Chelsea as well).
So onto the summer and we made some big changes. We all hoped these players would hit the ground running, but the truth is that this was always unlikely as changing so many players (Adam, Downing, Enrique, Henderson, plus an injury to Lucas) can have a negative impact.
My point is that overall progress cannot be judged on one half season. That is true of the half season in early 2011 (good) and the half season in early 2012 (bad). Progress is judged over a period and this is why a manager and a set of players should always be given time.
This is not to say that we (the club) hasn't made mistakes. This is not to say that some of our signings haven't turned out as we expected. This is not to say that Kenny doesn't need to settle on a way of play (as he has tinkered too much).
However, it is also the case that this season has been further hampered by a number of other things. Gerrards injury meaning that Suarez and him hardly played together early on. The Suarez ban, which clearly affected the team even before it took place. The Lucas injury meaning we've had to rely on more the likes of Spearing.
Despite all of these problems, we have still (for the most part) outplayed most teams with patient, passing football. We've won one trophy and made one other final. That's why for me the season has been a mix of good and bad. Think they'd call that 'average'.
Carroll and Suarez have started to show that they can play together. Lucas coming back will hopefully bring confidence to the defence and Gerrard who will perhaps switch back to roaming forward rather than trying to be a DM. There are big reasons to be positive and clear signs that while the recent history is poor, overall progress is being made (but hampered by other things).