Can reshaped Liverpool and shorn Saints deliver change for the better?

Anfield manager Brendan Rodgers denies doing a 'Spurs' by squandering Luis Suarez money

The red sign outside The Albert warns of a demolition zone. Although the pub will survive, if plans to redevelop Anfield are executed as promised the surroundings will have transformed by 2016. The brooding terraced houses on Tinsley Street and Gilman Street will disappear. Those on Lothair Road have already gone. The cranes are moving in. There is no access through Rockfield Road.

LIVE: LIVERPOOL VS SOUTHAMPTON LATEST

Inside Anfield today, there too will be a sense of unfamiliarity. Only five of Liverpool's starting XI which lost this fixture against Southampton last September are likely to feature from the beginning. Meanwhile, the Saints' new manager Ronald Koeman is able to name only four but is likely to go with three. The changes this summer have been swift and unprecedented.

When Alberto Moreno was pictured glancing at the bronze bust of Bill Shankly that stands inside the foyer of Liverpool's Melwood training ground ahead of his medical on Wednesday afternoon, he became the eighth new signing to complete the routine with club photographers.

Never has a recruitment campaign been as bold with eight new arrivals at a total coast of nearly £100m. "Frighteningly shallow," was Brendan Rodgers' assessment when asked on Thursday about his squad depth last season. It was not just Steven Gerrard's slip against Chelsea that cost Liverpool the title in May. It was also the physical and mental fatigue that crept into the players. It was the absence of options from the bench.

Rodgers dismissed the suggestion that Liverpool, having sold Luis Suarez for a record fee, are following the same rock-strewn path as Tottenham Hotspur when they sold Gareth Bale to Real Madrid for £80m and squandered the lot. "It's an evolving team," said the Liverpool manager. "It's a totally different scenario [compared with Spurs]. We are clear in our identity of how we play and how we work. The guys from last year will be here and we've added some exciting talents."

Although Adam Lallana is ruled out because of injury, Rodgers will start with Dejan Lovren in the centre of his defence while Rickie Lambert might appear later from the substitutes' bench. All three were Southampton players at the start of June and each targeted because of the similarities in style between the teams. "They understand the pressing, the intensity and the possession," explained Rodgers, who believes Southampton's owners could have held on to the trio if the determination was really there. "They don't have to sell. You have a choice. Maybe Southampton's objectives have changed."

Rodgers suggested, however, that Southampton's shedding of its best players is a natural order. "It has always been like that," he responded to a question about why it is difficult for clubs like Southampton to build any sustained momentum. "You fight hard against it but it's how football works." He could have cited a period in the 1980s when the same thing happened. Southampton had accomplished players: Tim Flowers, Mark Wright, Andy Townsend, Alan Shearer and the Wallace brothers. The core was there. Yet all were sold before a team could emerge. Liverpool's Rickie Lambert in action during a pre-season friendly soccer match between Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund Liverpool's Rickie Lambert in action during a pre-season friendly soccer match between Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund
No club, perhaps, is imprisoned by its past as much as Liverpool, although inspiration can be found in history. They have been here before. Finishing second in the top flight, a young manager approaching his third season in charge, the team losing its best striker. In 1987 Ian Rush left for Juventus having never featured on the losing side whenever he'd registered a goal. He would soon be back, becoming the club's greatest scorer.

Kenny Dalglish took the decision to alter the way Liverpool attacked. It would cost a lot of money, roughly £350,000 more than the £3.2m received to make Rush the subject of a British-record transfer. John Aldridge may have borne a physical resemblance to Rush but the two forwards were very different. Dalglish signed John Barnes, the team's first natural winger in a decade, as well as Peter Beardsley to replace himself. On the pitch the team clicked immediately – no longer was any player greater than the sum of its parts – and with that, the old First Division title was wrested from Everton.

The player departing this time is Suarez. Unlike Rush he will not be returning to Merseyside. Liverpool's transfer committee involves Rodgers, chief executive Ian Ayre, head of recruitment Dave Fallows, chief scout Barry Hunter, and head of analysis Michael Edwards. The group would surely have appreciated the Uruguayan might leave when it was would be inserted into a fresh contract he signed last December. An oversight not to plan without him would be at best naïve or at worst negligent.

Rodgers reminded everyone that even with Suarez's 31 League goals last season, Liverpool managed another 70 from other areas. He says that although he would still like to add another striker – with Samuel Eto'o only considered an option if other targets like Wilfried Bony aren't available for a reasonable value – it is impossible to replace a striker of Suarez's quality directly. "We've had to piece the team together to get goals," he admitted.

Southampton’s on-loan Saphir Taider Southampton’s on-loan Saphir Taider
It is detectable that even with all of the new additions, Rodgers is most excited about the prospect of other players already there stepping forward in Suarez's absence. He envisages that Raheem Sterling will become a key performer, "a kid forming his own identity," someone who will be offered an improved contract soon, providing his astonishing rise continues.

"We just have to be careful because when you reward young players too quickly – he's still 19 – you give them too much and too early, then that will be their downfall," he warned. Rodgers considers this as the reason why so many young British players have not developed as expected. "They buy a new Range Rover Sports before they have even got their driving licence or passed their test."

Philippe Coutinho, a Brazilian, has not apparently been contaminated by this and soon contract negotiations will begin with him as well. Time seemingly stood still when he assisted Daniel Sturridge for Liverpool's opener in the dismantling of Borussia Dortmund last weekend. Sturridge already calls Coutinho "David Blaine" after the illusionist, and Sturridge was never quite as forthcoming with praise for Suarez. Rodgers will be hoping the relationship does the trick this season.

Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week