The world of Liverpool changes yet some things stay the same. When Bill Shankly, who would have been 99 yesterday, arrived at the club bursting with energy and a new philosophy in 1959, he wanted the money to buy Denis Law and Jack Charlton, to put his ideas into practice. The club refused him, much like Brendan Rodgers has been denied the money to equip his squad with Clint Dempsey, the player he was banking on when he let Andy Carroll go to West Ham.
Yet Shankly's hard decade in management had already taught him that you need boardroom allies with influence. Rodgers, pictured, has been in the game for four years, not long enough to learn that you need cast-iron guarantees from the top before you start letting £35m strikers go.
"No," Rodgers said – immediately and very firmly – when asked if he would have released Carroll if he had known Dempsey would not be his. "Very," he said, when asked whether he had been confident that the American – about whom the club decided that £7m was too much to pay for a 29-year-old – would be signed. The Northern Irishman declared of Friday's endgame that "there are one or two operational things we need to organise". His relationship with the managing director, Ian Ayre, is fine and this deeply questionable decision has been taken elsewhere in the hierarchy, where no one can say Rodgers has been less than transparent. "I would need to be a nutcase to even consider at this moment letting Andy Carroll go, unless there are other solutions for that," he said, 11 days ago.
It would help if the one first-team frontman Rodgers has acquired, Fabio Borini, looked like he was ready to put a smile on the manager's face, or Nuri Sahin had not been overrun by players like Santi Cazorla, who had decided the Emirates was their best option. Though some patience and perspective are required about the task of rebuilding Liverpool, Arsène Wenger was the manager who arrived with most questions asked about his summer's transfer work and left with most of them answered.
Cazorla demonstrated once again the benefits of investing £16m in a player with minimal resale value, and Lukas Podolski also shone in the process of opening Arsenal's goal account for the season. Shankly once challenged the Liverpool board to "sack me" if his new signings couldn't play. Rodgers, with only 19 players available, won't be risking that kind of talk.Reuse content