Despite the installation of some glistening new ivory since arriving at Anfield it is starting to look as though Brendan Rodgers has bitten off more than he can chew.
Languishing in 12th place in the Premier League after suffering a third straight defeat away to Crystal Palace on Sunday, only so much can be excused away by the departure of Luis Suarez. Even the on-going absence of Daniel Sturridge, who appears to have burnt matchsticks for muscles, can do no more than paint over the growing cracks.
Losing Suarez was always going to be difficult but it was neither a surprise that he wanted out nor was it a transaction without healthy recompense.
The problem is where the Suarez windfall was distributed.
Money For Nothing
Perhaps Rodgers is too confident of his ability to develop players or perhaps it was the insistence of his American masters but the manager has a squad of player he’s struggling to make work. He has too many project players on his hands and appears to have compromised the present for the potential of a glittering future.
Some £55.5m was spent over the Summer on:
Emre Can (£9.75m) – 20 years old, talented but has had little impact on first team
Lazar Markovic (£19.8m) – 20 years old, see above.
Divick Origi (£10m) – 19 years old and sent back to Lille on loan.
Mario Balotelli (£16m) – Rodgers so far has failed were Mourinho and Mancini did before him
Then there’s £23.2m of talent Rodgers purchased and then sent out on loan (not including Origi):
Luis Alberto (£6.8m)
Iago Aspas (£7m)
Tiago Ilori (£7m)
Oussama Assaidi (£2.4m)
That’s £78.7m of talent which is having little or no impact on Liverpool’s first team right now. Over a third of the total transfer spending since Rodgers arrived, some £220m.
And this without looking at the players he has brought in who have yet to justify their price tags:
Adam Lallana (£25m)
Dejan Lovren (£20m)
Mamadou Sakho (£15m)
Joe Allen (£15m)
Fabio Borini (£10m)
Simon Mignolet (£9m)
Rickie Lambert (£4m)
That’s another £98m in talent. If you even tentatively agree with this summation then Rodgers has spent £176.7m on players he himself has deemed insufficient or who have yet to significantly prove their worth to the fans.
Rodgers’ only unquestionable transfer successes have been:
Daniel Sturridge (£12m) – a player it is rumoured Rodgers wasn’t too keen on
Philippe Coutinho (£8m)
Kolo Toure (free) – a decent, experienced back up who didn’t cost a thing.
I’m going to throw in Alberto Moreno as a success at £12m but accept that some may feel he has yet to prove his worth. Playing Glen Johnson ahead of Moreno has been a particular source of annoyance for many Liverpool fans and is seen as a sign that Rodgers doesn’t know his best team.
Change A Habit
An opinion backed up by some interesting numbers. In Liverpool’s 12 Premier League games this season Brendan Rodgers has made 30 individual player changes to his starting line-up week-to-week. Very few of which have been forced by injury or suspension. Lallana, Can, Markovic, Coutinho, Allen Manquillo and Moreno have found themselves regularly being rotated out of the starting line-up for no definable explanation beyond Rodgers attempting to be tactically astute.
In comparison Jose Mourinho has made just 16 individual team changes to his starting lineups over the course of Chelsea’s first twelve Premier League games. The majority of these have been rotating between Willian and Ramires or due to injury to Diego Costa and the suspension of Azpilicueta.
This may just be a period of transition for Rodgers and Liverpool, one which Liverpool fans will look back on in seasons to come and lie about the fact that they knew it was all going to work out. However, if his transfer acquisitions don’t start coming good or he can’t find a settled team which can perform at a consistently acceptable level, Rodgers may be just another false dawn.