“You’re overreacting!” “Liverpool will be fine!” was the typical reaction that I received when I wrote here in early August that Brendan Rodgers’ undoubted easing away from Craig Bellamy and Andy Carroll when he took over at Liverpool may come back to haunt him. Subsequent events have done little to alter my opinion.
Bellamy was, almost immediately, on his way to the championship—and who can truly say that the wide areas have been a rich seam of creativity for the Reds in these early weeks of the campaign? Then, guess what? Carroll got loaned out to the Hammers.
The departure of these two front-men was predicated on the apparent certain belief that they’d be replaced during the transfer window. Clint Dempsey was an all-but acknowledged target but, as history now records, he‘ll instead be plying his trade at White Hart Lane this campaign and beyond.
That leaves Liverpool’s striking options, until January, in the hands of the temperamental Luis Suarez and yet-to-be-proved Fabio Borini.
Events then unfolded for Reds supporters as if a finger had been jabbed in the collective eye of the Kop. Prior to getting injured, Carroll enjoyed a thrilling debut for West Ham against Fulham with three goal assists (one direct, two indirect). The following day during a comprehensive two-nil Anfield defeat by Arsenal, Liverpool headed to the break without a single shot on target.
Did the deadline day failure to snare Dempsey or someone similar indicate a lock on the cash box by the FSG? Or perhaps it’s worth speculating that part of the £15 million used to trigger the release clause in Joe Allen’s Swansea contract could ultimately have been better distributed in recruiting the much-needed striker before the window slammed shut.
I maintain fully that if Bellamy and/or Carroll had been at the club to start the current campaign, the Liverpool ‘Goals For’ column would have a far healthier aspect to it. It‘s often said that the destiny of any given game—especially in the EPL—can be judged by the strength of the respective benches. On Sunday, Arsenal had a host of attacking options in the technical area, while a Gunners back four yet to concede this season was unlikely to be spooked by the appearance of Jordan Henderson—who just days previously had been deployed as a left-back in the Europa League.
It has been Liverpool’s worst start to a league season for 53 years, and one’s left to wonder why Rodgers left such a progressive, dynamic and independent scenario at Swansea only to have his desired Anfield transfer policy and wishes denied or blocked by those at the FSG.
Free agents are now the only possible path of recruitment for Rodgers—Didier Drogba’s Chinese adventure now seems in doubt—or could perhaps the Rodgers template have to be tweaked a little in order to accommodate an emotional return for Anfield legend and now elder statesman—also out of contract—Michael Owen…?
Brendan Rodgers asked the Anfield faithful for patience. They’ll need something more than Sunday's incoherent display to keep them onside—and him from walking alone.