Kenny Dalglish's last public act on Liverpool's tour of Asia was to engage in some public banter with Phil Thompson in front of 38,000 fans who had come to see his players engage in a little light training.
It proved that, however firm their place is in Anfield's pantheon, Thompson and Dalglish have a limited future as a comedy double act, although the reception they received would have flattered Morecambe and Wise. Then, the Liverpool manager was driven to the airport for a 6,000 mile overnight flight to Merseyside to meet his newest signing, Stewart Downing.
The chance to welcome the 26-year-old winger, who has never quite fulfilled the early promise he showed at Middlesbrough, was not the reason for Dalglish's journey. There was a family engagement to fulfil. Since his return to Anfield in January, Dalglish has moved swiftly. The £20m fee Liverpool will pay Aston Villa brings his spending to £100m in seven months.
Jamie Carragher felt this is something Liverpool have long lacked. "It's a terrific signing, there's no doubt about that whatsoever," said the man who has flung himself into the role of pressing the flesh in China and in Malaysia.
"He's been a top player in the Premier League for the last six or seven years and he will make a difference, with his ability to go outside and down the line to get quality crosses in.
"He was Aston Villa's player of the year and he will give us something that we have been lacking, genuine quality on the left hand side. Every team looking to compete needs quality players in each position and that is what we are getting back towards."
Suarez apart, the one common link in Dalglish's spending is that it has been focused on British footballers, which underpinned his success at Blackburn. In his brief, sometimes tortured, tenure at St James' Park he often shopped abroad with mixed results. British players are relatively expensive – the £35m that took Carroll from Tyneside to the shores of the Mersey was enough for Barcelona to bring Alexis Sanchez to the Nou Camp. However, they bring togetherness.
"I know him, so does Stevie; he knows Andy Carroll and Johnno from playing for England, so he is not going to be walking into a dressing room and be on his own," said Carragher. "He will get a great welcome because he's a good lad and a top player as well."Reuse content