LFC need stability more than any striker

Posted by guest on September 2, 2012, 09:55:28 PM

Nothing to be done. Liverpool supporters began the final day of this summer's transfer window with thoughts of Dempsey, Walcott and Sturridge. What started as confidence turned to hope; from hope to worry; from worry to disbelief. Apoplexy has now engulfed it all. The club's decision-making over the past 48 hours has baffled and bewildered. It would be droll to suggest it has ever been different, certainly over the past two decades. Nothing to be done. Nothing was.

The reaction to Liverpool's inability to replace Andy Carroll is justified, though the meltdown regarding dealings as a whole not so much. Such pomp and ceremony is made of the transfer window's final day that supporters lose sight of reality. So do the football clubs themselves. Players such as Klaas-Jan Huntelaar are linked in order to increase viewing figures and website hits, yet supporters still devour; clubs call other clubs' bluff, call it again and finish empty-handed. Everything is accentuated during the pre-meditated hype of final day. Liverpool sold a world class forward in Andy Carroll and missed out on a world class forward in Clint Dempsey.

That, of course, is not true. What is true is that Liverpool took a gamble on loaning Andy Carroll to West Ham. It was one that did not pay off - and Rodgers is not happy. He clearly is not a character who believes on taking uncalculated risks. Speaking after the 2-0 home defeat to Arsenal, when asked whether he would have allowed Andy Carroll to leave if no replacement was forthcoming, he replied with an honest, blunt "no".

Rodgers took calculated risks throughout the summer. He brought in Fabio Borini and Joe Allen for £25 million - two players he was familiar with during his time at Swansea. Nuri Sahin came from an endorsement of his mentor Jose Mourinho; Oussama Assaidi was heavily scouted during his time at Swansea. The interest in players he missed out on this summer; Sigurdsson, Sturridge, Tello; manifested from either working with them directly or recommendations from his most trusted lieges. It had been a good summer, but it was all forgotten as the sun began to set and nothing happened.

As a Champions League winning manager once said, here are the facts: the signing of Joe Allen is a magnificent one, imperative to implementing what Rodgers wants from the system. Borini is a worker whose best work so far has gone undetected; relentless pressing and willingly running to provide space for Suarez. Nuri Sahin, though possibly a luxury loan signing, will provide balance in the midfield and a left foot that belongs to a former Bundesliga Player of the Year. The signing of Ousamma Assaidi remains as much of a mystery as the pronunciation of his name.

The other side of the revolving door tossed aside Craig Bellamy, Maxi Rodriguez and Alberto Aquilani, three players on substantial wages who pined for returns to their homelands. Dirk Kuyt, no longer guaranteed a first-team place and with a clause in his contract, left for Fenerbache. A comparison of Jay Spearing and Charlie Adam with new central midfield pair Allen and Sahin prompts a disparity not seen since the Alamo.

It is believed the summer outgoings will save the club over £24million a year on wages alone, though the contracts of new players, as well as extensions for Suarez, Skrtel and Shelvey are not factored. Liverpool is a club that must operate within its means. Giving Joe Cole £90,000 a week was not a club doing that, nor was allowing Jamie Carragher to sign an improved contract hours from administration. Fenway Sports Group are far from blameless, with their fingerprints on the pistol. Last summer's ostentatious spending, and allowing Damien Comolli to broker those deals, certainly showed their happy trigger finger.

The club had taken a number of steps back over the past few years financially; to edge a couple forward, and not compromise the quality of the first team, could even be regarded as a success. It was the wider squad that needed work, something Rodgers alluded to when he told reporters he was one or two forwards short. Make that three. The economics behind loaning Carroll to West Ham made sense; the opportunity was presented to free up some extra money for wage for a player that could play to Rodgers' taste. That player never came. Complacency is one of football's biggest sins.

It isn't about the player, it is what it represents. Carroll scored just 11 goals in 58 games for the club and looked out of his depth for long periods of last season. They are goals that, certainly in the league, will hardly be missed - particularly given Rodgers' intentions with the football. It was the notion that the club were operating on a strict one-in, one-out policy that rankles, their ability to undermine the manager that causes rancour. Flashbacks to Hicks and Gillett, and misplaced comparisons, are inevitable. Losing Andy Carroll and not replacing him may hurt the squad, but nowhere near as much as it hurts FSG's PR.

PR clearly isn't one of their strong points. The handling of the Luis Suarez situation was catastrophic, their conduct throughout Kenny Dalglish's dismissal disrespectful. Roberto Martinez's chinos, and the Miami job interview that never was, was the froth on top of the latte. You're always fighting a losing battle when you sack a club legend from his position as manager; so too when you make claims that begin to look erroneous. In April, chairman Tom Werner said the club had resources to compete with "anybody" in football, clearly forgetting the riches of Manchester City, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain amongst others. Werner flapped his gums at Rodgers' unveiling as manager as well: "There will be no requirement to sell players this summer in order to fund new purchases."

The incompetence to miss out on Dempsey to Tottenham for the sake of a few million pounds has made FSG look foolish, but more pertinently, it has made them an enemy of the state. Failure on the pitch against Arsenal on Sunday has been attributed to the failure off the pitch with Carroll and Dempsey, but it's an anger that's slightly misplaced. Though the bench was weak - and only Assaidi to make his debut and Lucas to return to fitness - the first team was strong. The presence of Carroll or Dempsey on the bench may have given another option, but it was a defeat that could have been prevented with an attacking threat. The problems were in midfield and the question of how to utilise Gerrard; the problems were with the goalkeeper and the puzzle on what's happened to the Pepe Reina of yesteryear. No battering ram or late-running forward could have solved that.

Within 48 hours, Rodgers' job at Anfield has gone from moulding a talented young squad into his own into swatting away questions about discontent with those above him in the hierarchy. That, more than any issue over the brevity of the squad, is the biggest problem. Rodgers had a tough enough task to turn the club around to begin with; if he's going to do it, he'll need support, competence and few distractions from above. No more PR disasters. That's more important than any striker.

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