Record-equalling start: Sturridge makes it three in his first three games for Liverpool with this strike against Norwich
Right, the January transfer window has finally slammed shut until the summer after total spending of roughly £120 million (according to BBC Sport), and sitting in his Melwood office overlooking the training pitches right now will be Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers with a smile as wide as the Mersey, as for him and the club this has been an outstanding month of business.
January, as everyone knows, is a particularly tricky time in which to bring new faces to your club—especially if you want those arrivals to be both economically viable and of a high technical quality—for the simple reason that those who are chasing either domestic honours or European glory, or both, are simply not going to allow key squad members to depart, which is why successful buys in January are a rarity to say the very least.
However, in a strange way, Liverpool’s fall from glory since 2009 has helped them in this regard, as they are now no longer shopping at the top table of European football—whether that be in terms of the quality of the player or the price—and that has given managing director Ian Ayre more room for manoeuvring when it comes to the club’s transfer dealings last month.
And, when you also take into account the fact that the club’s American owners, Fenway Sports Group (FSG), were skimping around at the last minute in August in order to try to find an extra £2 million to bring Clint Dempsey to Anfield, and failed, then it is safe to say that expectations among Liverpool supporters entering the new transfer window were not overly optimistic.
But principal owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner did not make it to where they are now without knowing a thing or two about making successful business deals.
They had clearly learnt the lessons of the previous disastrous transfer window that had criminally left Rodgers with just two strikers to operate with, with Liverpool getting into their stride early as they stole a march on their rivals, identifying their principal target quickly before moving with haste to capture his signature.
That player was Chelsea’s unsettled England international striker Daniel Sturridge, who Liverpool managed to sign for just £12 million on Jan. 2, at a stroke ending their long search for a front man to help ease the burden on leading scorer Luis Suarez.
The 23-year-old also ticked all the boxes as far as FSG were concerned in that he was a young English forward who could be sold on at profit if needed, and to cap it all off, the attacker not only scored on his full Liverpool debut at Mansfield Town in the FA Cup third round, but he then found the back of the net on his Premier League debut, at of all places Old Trafford, before becoming the first Liverpool player since Ray Kennedy in 1974 to register in his first three games for the club when he struck on his full top-flight debut against Norwich City at Anfield.
So, all in all, it is fair to say that Sturridge has made quite an impact in his short time on Merseyside, with perhaps the most encouraging aspect of it all being his already telepathic understanding that he has developed with fellow front man Suarez, which bodes very well for the remainder of Liverpool’s season and beyond.
And, you can see the lift Sturridge’s arrival has given everyone around the club—players, supporters, the manager and his staff, as well as the owners too—with a feel-good factor at present enveloping Anfield, with an obvious upturn in results and performances to boot too.
But, Sturridge has not been the only new arrival at Liverpool in January, as the club also managed to persuade Inter Milan’s highly talented midfield player Philippe Coutinho to swap San Siro for Anfield in a long-term deal worth a reported £8.5 million; which, when you really think about it is quite some piece of business.
Well, this is a 20-year-old Brazil international signed from one of the biggest football clubs in the world for a fee under £10 million, and who not only was tipped recently for a great future while playing at Vasco de Gama, but who can also operate in a number of different positions across midfield and in attack.
In addition, Coutinho has not just come over on a loan deal to see the sights and head back home this summer, like Nuri Sahin—he is clearly here for the long haul.
Speaking of Sahin, Liverpool also managed to clear a lot of dead wood and high earners (or both in some cases) off their wage bill—players like the disappointing Sahin, who has re-joined Borussia Dortmund; West Ham United-bound Joe Cole, who was earning a reported £110,000 a week to warm the substitutes’ bench; and absent reserve-team keeper Alexander Doni, who signed for Botafogo, which freed up a lot of money that Rodgers has since used more effectively on other more important parts of the team.
However, perhaps the greatest piece of business the club did in January was not an actual signing as such, but managing to keep the mercurial and in-demand Luis Suarez out of the clutches of big-spending rivals, for now at least.
And, as if to emphasise just what a successful transfer window it has been for Liverpool, the Uruguayan told the club’s official website on Thursday that he intends to stay at Anfield for a “very long time.”
"I hope [to be at Liverpool] for a very long time because it's a massive club that kids dream about playing for," Suarez told Liverpoolfc.com.
"I've been very proud to be at a club like Liverpool and to have made the decision to come here. In two years I've lived through some spectacular and very special moments that I will never, ever forget."
"There have been a few difficult times as well, but with the support of my family, the club and the fans, things have gone well for me."
Were Liverpool the biggest winners of the January transfer window?
"I do feel at home here. When I'm out and about, all I get is support and encouragement from the local people and that's very important, and when I come here to the club I feel like people have known me all my life. That also helps a great deal to making me feel so at home."
"I hope to be able to help out the team for as long as I possibly can while trying do something to make the club and the fans very happy."
So, all in all, Anfield will be a pretty contented place this morning.