Brendan Rodgers' Transfers Taking Liverpool in the Right Direction
Per usual, Luis Suarez stole the headlines with a hat-trick at Wigan Saturday, but it was the new guy Philippe Coutinho who really got Liverpool going.
The 20-year-old Brazilian danced around Wigan defenders in the box and lifted a cross right onto the waiting Stewart Downing's head to put the Reds up in just the first minute. And there was no turning back.
Just 16 minutes later, Coutinho provided a wonderful through-ball to put Suarez in on goal. The Uruguayan went on to become the first Liverpool player to score at least 20 Premier League goals in a season since Fernando Torres in 2007-08 (pause to cry).
While Suarez has been Liverpool's best player this season and possibly even England's, it's been the men Brendan Rodgers has brought in to support his No. 7 who have really made the difference.
Joe Allen followed Rodgers from Swansea last summer, and the 22-year-old midfielder started his Liverpool career strong and has been consistent alongside Lucas Leiva and Steven Gerrard.
Rodgers' best work came this past January, however.
Daniel Sturridge came over from Chelsea just after the new year and immediately won the Kop over. He bested both Torres and Suarez by scoring just seven minutes into his debut (Torres and Suarez each scored 16 minutes into their respective Reds' careers).
Sturridge scored in his next two appearances as well, one coming at Old Trafford, making him the first Liverpool player in almost 40 years to score in his first three games for the club.
The 23-year-old Englishman linked up with Suarez immediately upon his arrival at Anfield, and Coutinho isn't far behind him when it comes to molding seamlessly into the team.
These two players might've cost Brendan Rodgers about £20 million combined, but that's looking more and more like a bargain each day, especially considering Joe Allen alone was £15 million.
Fabio Borini and Oussama Assaidi may look like wastes of money considering how little they've played this season, but either way, £10 million isn't that hard to swallow after 2011.
Transfer fees are not really in the managers' hands, so we'll put those aside. But considering who Kenny Dalglish splashed the cash on in 2011, Rodgers is certainly moving in the right direction.
Dalglish's transfers, aside from Suarez, always looked more like guesses and second-choices. He knew Liverpool needed more depth and needed to challenge the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea in the transfer window, and he got a little ahead of himself.
The game of football hasn't changed since King Kenny managed Liverpool in the '80s, but the politics sure have, and they became the undoing of his second term as manager.
Dalglish simply snapped up the first players he thought of without seeing how they fit into his team or system.
Rodgers has been more cunning.
He could've easily panicked last August upon losing Andy Carroll and shelled out big bucks on the wrong replacement, which is how Carroll came to Anfield in the first place.
Rodgers has been relatively stingy in the transfer market, and though fans may not like it at first, it's what Liverpool need.
In addition to not bringing in any flops of his own (not counting Being: Liverpool), Rodgers has made some of Dalglish's flops serviceable.
Stewart Downing is still not worth his £20 million price tag, but he has looked sharper this season and he's at least got three Premier League assists, as opposed to zero.
Rodgers also offloaded the hugely disappointing Charlie Adam to Stoke last summer, and he sent the ultimate transfer failure—courtesy of Roy Hodgson—Joe Cole off to who cares where (OK, West Ham).
Liverpool have had far too many games this season where they've looked completely lifeless and disinterested, and some of those losses (blast you West Brom) could be the reason the Reds miss the Champions League for the third year running.
But Rodgers' work in the transfer window has Liverpool moving forward, though the League table doesn't exactly reflect that as of now.
Rodgers decided from the start he wouldn't be spending Liverpool back to the top. He is concerned with Liverpool and Liverpool only. He knows he has money to spend, but he's not going to spend it on just anybody.
And apparently, Clint Dempsey is just anybody.
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