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Liverpool to back Rodgers in market as reserves flop

Friday, 2 November 2012 - 4:12pm IST | Agency: Daily Telegraph
Liverpool will bankroll Brendan Rodgers' attempts to strengthen his side in January after his patience finally snapped with the under-performing squad he inherited.

Liverpool will bankroll Brendan Rodgers' attempts to strengthen his side in January after his patience finally snapped with the under-performing squad he inherited.

The thinness of Rodgers' options were laid bare in the 3-1 defeat to Swansea in the Capital One Cup, the urgency for reinforcements to relieve the pressure on Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard and the club's increasingly overburdened youngsters all too clear.

Joe Cole was the most high-profile failure, but there was an equally unfavourable assessment of Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson - players whose opportunities have been limited since the summer but fell woefully short of making a point to the manager.

Rodgers made reference to the "astronomical" costs of retaining players who are surplus to requirements, his frustration at the lack of strength in depth plain to see.

Although Cole, who is costing Liverpool around pounds 5?million a year for the duration of his four-year deal, is an obvious target, Rodgers would offload all of his costly fringe players in January if he thought there was an interest and he could replace them.

Those players are fully aware they are welcome to talk to other clubs - although attracting any offers that would lure them from their comfortable, lucrative salaries on Merseyside will be as difficult in the New Year as it was last summer.

Left-back Jose Enrique has also failed to impress the manager, only featuring in emergencies, and with Andy Carroll already on loan and Charlie Adam sold, it is a damning indictment on the profligate spending prior to Rodgers' arrival.

Suarez and back-up centre-half Sebastian Coates are the only signings left from the Kenny Dalglish reign who Liverpool are not actively trying to sell.

Liverpool's American owners, Fenway Sports Group, will make money available to reinforce when the transfer window opens, although it is by no means a deep kitty.

Although they failed to back Rodgers in his pursuit of Clint Dempsey on transfer-deadline day in August, they will welcome a list of fresh targets for January which will, once more, include Arsenal's Theo Walcott, his contract impasse having been monitored closely at Anfield since the summer.

Rodgers could assist his spending powers by reducing his wage bill even further, but he is not working under any guarantee there will be any takers for his unwanted, high earners.

The volume of money wasted at Anfield since their last successful spending splurge in 2007 is horrifying. Five years ago, former manager Rafael Benitez signed Fernando Torres, Javier Mascherano and Martin Skrtel in the same calendar year in what represents the last successful sequence of purchases, but since then - with the exception of Glen Johnson, Suarez and last summer's acquisition of Joe Allen, every major signing has been a failure.

* Robbie Keane (pounds 20?million), Alberto Aquilani (pounds 20?million), Downing (20 million pounds), Henderson (pounds 18?million), Carroll (pounds 35?million), Adam (pounds 9?million) and Enrique (pounds 7?million) form a rogues gallery, evidence of the most wasteful era of spending in Anfield and, perhaps, Premier League history.

Cole, signed on a free transfer in 2010, cannot be excluded from this list given his extortionate wages. The Anfield board know Rodgers is paying the price for this legacy, which is why they have adopted a long-term strategy. The surrendering of their League Cup title is a setback, but the Northern Irishman can expect several transfer windows to assemble his own team.

So far he has only recruited Allen, who has been a success, and Italian striker Fabio Borini - currently injured after a difficult start - for significant fees.

Nuri Sahin is a loanee, while teenager Samed Yesil and winger Oussama Assaidi were recruited for a relatively small price, on a completely different wage structure to the levels created by Rodgers' predecessors.

Goalkeeper Brad Jones, meanwhile, is hopeful of maintaining his run in the side to prolong Pepe Reina's absence. The Australian has been in steady form and has won the confidence of Rodgers.

"Everyone wants to play," Jones said. "When I came to Liverpool I knew Pepe had an unbelievable record. He is a difficult guy to get out of the way. We have a good, friendly rivalry.

"For me this run of games has been a good opportunity to play and show I can perform if needed in the first team. Then it's down to the manager to what he sees fit. It's a case of all of us putting pressure on each other.

"I've been fairly happy with how things have gone. I haven't had masses to do but I feel that what I have done has been fairly steady."

Expensive failures: Where the Anfield axe could fall

Joe Cole

Signed on a Bosman in the summer of 2010 on a pounds 20?million wage package, he must surely be asking himself if he has the capability to play at the highest level anymore. Even taking account of lack of fitness and game time, his performance against Swansea was disturbingly poor.

Stewart Downing

An England squad regular, his lack of desire and character in a Liverpool jersey was all too apparent in the League Cup defeat. Signed by Kenny Dalglish for pounds 20?million, the frustration is he has shown isolated - very isolated - moments of quality. Nowhere near enough to convince the Kop, however.

Jordan Henderson

Has been messed around since his pounds 18?million arrival; first played wide right last season and ending up at full-back on Wednesday, but his purchase for such an extraordinary price remains mystifying. Fulham were given the chance to sign him last summer and he could be a makeweight in future deals.

Jose Enrique

Began well following a pounds 7?million move from Newcastle a year ago, but has since deteriorated rapidly. Now behind teenager Andre Wisdom and the injured Martin Kelly in the pecking order, although Glen Johnson's recent injury won him back his place. His defending has been a constant weakness.

 


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