‘The Great Scouse Summer Splurge of 2011’ – as absolutely nobody calls it – will be forever be remembered with heavy hearts by Liverpool fans.
Armed with long promised funds from across the Pond, newly-appointed permanent manager Kenny Dalglish and his trusty director of football Damien Comolli waded into the murky depths of the transfer market and emerged blinking into the sunlight of a sparkling new season clutching the talents of Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing, Doni, Jose Enrique, Sebastian Coates and Craig Bellamy tightly to their bosoms.
The entire bunch a snip at over £57 million! How Damien and Dalglish must have rubbed their hands with glee at the prospect of their eight new signings combining with the considerable talent already on show at the club as the Reds stormed back into the top four.
Alas, we know this was not to be the case and less than 12 months after his spending spree, despite achieving glory in everyone’s favourite final held in March, Dalglish was swiftly ushered out the door by John W. Henry and friends after a disappointing eighth place finish in the Premier League.
Now, it is unfair to completely blame this failure on the summer signings; January acquisition Andy Carroll must bear some of the blame as well. Still unfair? Perhaps, but other than brief moments of inspiration from the mainly bench-bound Bellamy and a reasonably consistent start to the season from Jose Enrique, this sorry band of misfits totally failed to deliver the kind of form expected from £57 million worth of footballer.
Speeding through the mists of time, taking in Euro 2012 and the Olympics as we go (why not, eh? They were smashing), we come to the Reds’ current predicament.
FSG have invested a considerable amount of faith and, once again, dollar, in Brendan Rodgers and his ‘philosophy’ of short, sharp possession-based football, designed to send the Reds storming back into the top four! Yay! Oh wait…
Once again it hasn’t quite worked out as planned. Granted it’s early days and there have been glimpses of improvement in recent weeks, but with Rodgers and co. languishing in 14th in the league it doesn’t look good so far. New signings like Joe Allen – or ‘The Welsh Xavi’ as he should never be known – and Fabio Borini – ‘The striker who hates scoring goals even more than Andy Carroll’ – and their new team mates are failing to deliver the consistency or goals required to breach even the top 10 right now.
Rodgers has been left with the dilemma of what to do with his expensive misfits. He didn’t sign them, he quite clearly doesn’t want them (see his comments questioning Stewart Downing’s commitment and his subsequent shoehorning in as a left-back) and it seems counter-productive to keep them hanging around on his wage bill when they could perhaps fetch £5 million apiece? Am I being too optimistic?
Of course, Charlie Adam has already been offloaded to a side which perhaps suits his slick, short Barcelona-esque passing a little more, while Bellamy, one of the only players who would probably have slotted nicely into Rodgers system coincidentally, has returned to Cardiff. That still leaves Liverpool with a number of high-earners who really aren’t pulling their weight.
Jose Enrique has been doing his absolute best Djimi Traore impression at left-back, while Jordan Henderson’s oft cited ‘potential’ is becoming so obscure that most Reds are now forced to settle for the potential that his next pass might reach its intended target if they’re lucky.
If Bolton agreed to take Jay Spearing and David Ngog off Rodgers’ hands, then surely Rhe can find a few equally gullible homes for Downing and his chums? Until he does that, is able to really shape a squad that’s built to play his way and gets a chance to see whether it works for the Reds, there’s going to be more time spent in Limbopool.