The names were circulated: Chelsea’s Daniel Sturridge, Fulham’s Clint Dempsey, even a bid for the Brazil striker Leandro Damiao. But those huge steel doors didn’t open for a new face.
Sturridge stayed on the Chelsea bench, Damiao remained in Brazil — and Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers had to watch as Tottenham Hotspur raised the £6 million cash he couldn’t to sign Dempsey.
Rodgers isn’t into making hollow promises. He’s a man of clear belief — but he also knew the evening before, when £35 million misfit Carroll was, with heavy symbolism, sent out on loan to West Ham, he had optimistically stated he would be replaced; that goals would “be added to the team”.
Now Rodgers has just two senior strikers and one of those, 21-year-old Fabio Borini, is yet to score in the Premier League.
There’s a new reality at
“It’s not for me to say,” Rodgers claims, diplomatically, when asked whether millions have, indeed, been wasted although the cold truth is that with Carroll out, Charlie Adam sold, Jordan Henderson for sale and Stewart Downing’s future in doubt, the new manager has delivered his verdict on the profligate spending of the Kenny Dalglish-Damien Comolli regime.
“I have to look at it in terms of how I want to play and when you have a philosophy it makes it simple,” Rodgers explained.
“If you go to a library and are looking for a sports book and go straight to that section then it’s quite straightforward. But the problem is when you go into that library and you’re not sure what you are looking for. You then spend half your time and effort wandering around and you might end up with a book you don’t want.
“For me, it’s simple. There are lots of very good players out there but I look for players who fit the profile of how they work for you.”
Those players he inherited, despite the cost, simply didn’t do that while other high-earners such as Craig Bellamy and Dirk Kuyt had to go to balance the books.
It irks Liverpool that Joe Cole, with his £90,000-a-week wage, remains. “Your principles are based on the players you have and as much as everyone wants to play you have to have certain types of players,” Rodgers said.
More change will come in January; a striker has to be bought. But there is that need for stability, also.
There is talk of “steadying the ship” and also plotting a course. There is the “Liverpool way”, as Rodgers quickly references, but there is also the ‘Rodgers way’. Whether he succeeds or fails, he wants to do so without compromise despite the bitter disappointment of deadline day.
“There’s been a lot of trauma, a lot of change in the club as a whole over the last couple of seasons and only once you are here can you realise the instability that has been here for a few years and that affects everyone,” he said.
“There’s been a change of ownership, a change in staff and a lot of vulnerability around the club and hopefully what I have come in and done is get everyone on board the ship and set sail knowing where we are going.”
There is, therefore, a natural respect for Wenger, and not just because both men have a similar belief as to how football should be played. There is the “Wenger way”, also, even if it, at times, has infuriated Arsenal supporters. “It’s not just about winning,” Rodgers said. “It’s about winning with style and that’s something I always look to from Arsène.
“As a manager, whatever race you are in, you want to win the race. Of course the rewards for getting into that top four are incredible. But you can’t say that Arsène Wenger, even though he hasn’t achieved a trophy [for seven years] hasn’t been successful.”
Rodgers wants to create his own dynasty at Liverpool. “I love it here,” he said. “Just the culture of the city, the people and the club — it’s a hand in glove fit really. I wasn’t going to leave Swansea for anywhere.
“So it had to be a unique opportunity for me to leave there. And the opportunity to come, despite the frustrations, despite the difficulties, to one of the best clubs in the world was something I just wanted to have a go at.”
There’s a pause. “Some clubs can be a gateway for you in your career, and to move on. This is a club that I hope is a destination for many years.”