Sports channels are often prone to shocking hyperbole, and yesterday was the kind of day billed in England as a Super Sunday. For Liverpool Football Club, it was more like Black Sunday. There was literally nothing to take from it.
Can all the blame for the 4-0 thrashing by Tottenham Hotspur be placed on the players themselves? There is a school of thought that says so, as they were the ones who stepped foot on the White Hart Lane pitch and forgot there was a game on.
Even recent successes like Luis Suarez and Jose Enrique looked woefully out of sorts, whilst the likes of Andy Carroll and Jordan Henderson merely confirmed what Liverpool fans had already known: they are currently nowhere near good enough for a club with top four aspirations.
Why Kenny Dalglish and Damien Comolli paid £35 million for striker Andy Carroll is a mystery known only to them. Slow, lumbering and with all the technical ability of a rice pudding, he looked horribly out of his depth again yesterday.
It wouldn’t matter so much if he’d been a bargain picked up from a lower league club as a hopeful punt, but this is the most expensive British player ever. One has a right to expect more from a £35 million signing, yet Andy Carroll is on course for going down in history as the biggest ever transfer flop.
Jordan Henderson was also ridiculously overpriced when he arrived from AFC Sunderland for a reported fee of £20 million. Supposedly an English player of rare potential, Henderson currently looks like that footballing cliché: the crab. And not merely because of the way he can only pass the ball sideways; because he is great at scuttling away to hide when the opposition look good.
Stewart Downing has been hyped by Liverpool’s friends in the media since his £20 million arrival from Aston Villa. An ordinary player of average ability, he’d spent all his career with mid-table clubs Middlesboro and Aston Villa before making a leap to a place he simply does not belong.
When one thinks about the £75 million spent on these three players alone, and what it could have been spent on instead, it makes the head spin. The amount of money wasted would make the man in charge of the UN's aid budget blush.
The management must take the blame for these signings, and for letting Raul Meireles and Alberto Aquilani leave for a combined fee of £12 million. Two classy, creative midfielders were allowed to leave for other clubs; one a rival for Champions League places.
Yet, the template for how Liverpool ought to have behaved when Chelsea came knocking had been set by yesterday’s opponents: Say no, keep your best players and demand they honour their contracts. Luka Modric was outstanding yesterday, by the way.
Raul Meireles was the team’s best midfielder in the absence of Steven Gerrard, so the decision to force him out is particularly baffling. Indeed, when one looks at how well Dalglish’s side played during the second half of last season, his continuing snubs to the likes of Maxi Rodriguez, Jay Spearing and Dirk Kuyt are equally surprising.
The club’s defence did need looking at, however. As leaky as a bullet-ridden rowing boat, it had been shipping so many goals during preseason that it was clear to all that drastic surgery was needed. Particularly so, given Daniel Agger and Martin Kelly’s injury records.
However, only Sebastion Coates was brought in, and while he may well prove himself to be an excellent player in the future, an experienced centre half in the mould of Gary Cahill or Ryan Shawcross should have also arrived before the transfer window closed.
With the injuries Liverpool currently have, only Jose Enrique looks good enough for an Anfield back four. A poor Rafa Benitez signing, Martin Skrtl has never been of the quality required. Meanwhile, Jamie Carragher’s legacy is threatened each time he pulls the shirt onto his battle-worn body.
At the start of a season which promised so much, Liverpool have been humiliated by a Spurs side thrashed in successive weekends by both Manchester clubs. They have also been beaten by a Stoke side beaten 4-0 by Sunderland.
The so-called impressive win at the Emirates came against the worst Arsenal side in living memory, who the following week were trounced 8-2 at Old Trafford, and who have just been beaten by bottom of the table Blackburn Rovers.
Furthermore, it only came about following Emmanuel Frimpong’s sending off, and courtesy of a freakish own-goal by Aaron Ramsey. The fantastic victory over Bolton must also be put into context. This weekend the Trotters lost at home to Norwich City, their fourth defeat on the bounce.
Liverpool, put frankly, are in a mess. It cannot be blamed on hated owners as Fenway Sports Group have been nothing but supportive since they took control of the club.
Neither can their troubles be blamed on a manager who is out of his depth, like was the case last year with Roy “Woeful Woy” Hodgson. The problems are the makings of Kenny Dalglish and Damien Comolli, and if they don’t sort them out soon Liverpool will be missing out on Champions League football yet again.
Where that will leave their jobs, Luis Suarez and FSG is a moot point. I suppose the silver lining to the depression is that only Suarez is good enough to be picked off by a club like Barcelona or Real Madrid. The likes of Henderson, Downing and Carroll mean the vultures will not be circling too aggressively when we miss out on the big boys’ party once more.