Brendan Rodgers frustrated by Liverpool’s striker search
Anfield club miss out on Dempsey and fail in loan bid for Sturridge to support Suarez
As the curtain slowly descended on the transfer window, the Liverpool manager, Brendan Rodgers, was still desperately trying to sign a goalscorer to lessen the burden on Luis Suarez, but failed as Clint Dempsey joined Tottenham Hotspur instead.
Rodgers had earlier looked confident of landing Dempsey and was seemingly awaiting the go-ahead from the club's American owners, Fenway Sports Group, to lodge a bid large enough for Fulham to accept. Instead, John Henry dug his heels in and refused to pay the £5 million the Cottagers wanted, leaving Dempsey no alternative but to arrive at Spurs Lodge with just one hour and fifteen minutes of deadline day left.
A year ago Liverpool were a pushover in the transfer market. But now they refuse to be held to ransom, even when reasonable deals are there to be done. And after Andy Carroll joined West Ham United on a season-long loan on Thursday, it leaves Suarez as the only senior striker at Anfield.
What is apparent is the desperate need for more goals, with Suarez bearing the majority of responsibility. That weight was felt during the 1-1 draw against Hearts in the Europa League, creating a number of chances but only being saved by a late solo effort from the Uruguayan. It was abundantly clear to Rodgers where he was required to strengthen yesterday.
"We need to add goals to the team – that has always been the objective. Some of our game [against Hearts] was very good – the passing and penetration were excellent. But you have got to have that ruthless streak," the manager said. "We need recognised goalscorers to come in." Astonishingly, the reinforcements never came and Rodgers must now look to the next four months with trepidation.
There was firm interest in Daniel Sturridge following Carroll's departure but Liverpool hoped to land the player on loan whereas Chelsea wanted the deal to be on a permanent basis. Sturridge started the Uefa Super Cup on the substitutes bench last night, indicating that the move was dead.
Over the summer, there has been an inherent need to rid the Kenny Dalglish demons; those who had demanded astronomical transfer fees under his stewardship are now beginning to leave the club. Carroll's move is with a view to a £17m permanent deal next summer, while the Hammers are also paying all of the striker's wages and a fee for the initial loan. Charlie Adam joined Stoke City and Jordan Henderson would have been moved on if there were any firm bids for his services. The midfielder refused to be used as a makeweight in any deal for Dempsey.
Rodgers made a point of reiterating his stance that the club have needed a certain degree of player turnover. The reason for that is two-fold: monetary, given the amount spent by his predecessor which stands in the region of £115 million, and certain players not fitting into the fluid style in which the manager operates with. "The competition at the top end of the Premier League is immense. The money put in to invest into the clubs is incredible, which obviously makes it that bit tougher," he said.
"I'm used to working with limited resources but obviously the demands are greater here. We're trying to make these first steps to make us successful in the future and sometimes those first steps are the most difficult."
Those steps include letting players go that are surplus requirements. Carroll was one, and Charlie Adam another. Bought from relegated Blackpool last summer, the creative midfielder failed to win over supporters and yesterday joined Stoke City for a fee of £4m. Adam was signed by the Potters prior to the midday registration deadline, meaning he can play against Wigan Athletic today.
Jay Spearing is also out of the door, completing a loan to Bolton Wanderers for the remainder of the season.
Not only did Dalglish oversee a huge loss in his own wheeling and dealing in the transfer market but his assets have been depreciating, with Rodgers picking up the pieces. On this difficult day, he could not win, attempting to fix a tepid goalscoring department and deadwood, but above all the finances. Liverpool are starting to balance the latter, all the while counting the cost of Kenny's extravagance.
Loss leaders: Dalglish's big signings
Andy Carroll – Potential loss £18m
Signed for £35m from Newcastle United on deadline day in January 2011, Carroll failed to hit the ground running. The England striker scored just six league goals in 44 games. He is now on a season-long loan at West Ham with a view to a £17m move.
Charlie Adam – Loss £5m
Sir Alex Ferguson said his free-kicks alone were worth £10m, but Adam's £9m move from Blackpool was a damp squib, as he was branded unfit. The Scot (pictured) signed for Stoke City yesterday for £4m.
After costing £20m from Sunderland last summer, Henderson has turned down a move to Fulham as a makeweight in a deal for Clint Dempsey.
Despite a price tag also of around £20m, Downing infamously failed to record a single assist last season and is now being touted as a left-back.
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