DURING the Premier League thrashing of Swansea I pondered the contrasting fortunes of Brendan Rodgers buys. The Reds boss has been getting hammered lately for strategy, selection, tactics and most of all, his judgement in the transfer market.
His primary focus has been on youth; both bringing them through and acquiring young, promising talent. New signings have been brought into a world of pressure; the demands and spotlight are much greater than at your average club. They enter the dressing room to find clothes pegs belonging to household names and luminaries of the game. Its rise or fall time; ego tells them they have earned the right to be there, doubt makes them feel like an imposter.
In a time when nobody can be happy when we look at the table, results have been a mixed bag and so have performances. This makes it a good time for our new recruits to stake a claim in an unsettled side. Some have thrived while others have a lot to do to win the hearts of the Kop faithful.
Fabio Borini arrived with little fan fare. A decent and promising roving forward came with a mandate which suggested he would constantly press and probe, pushing the side forward and creating space for Luis Suarez while contributing to a forward line which was wasteful last term. A nomad in his young career, barely spending more than a year wherever he goes he strikes me as a lonely figure just wanting to be loved and accepted in his environment. Big hopes and a big price tag encouraged Rodgers to deem the elephant in the room – Andy Carroll – surplus to requirements.
Despite the fact that, along with Suarez and rookie Adam Morgan, they were the only senior forwards at the club, he has flattered to deceive with a solitary goal against FC Gomel in the Europa League to show for his efforts. Injuries haven’t helped matters. A broken foot in October followed by his scream of anguish which followed the dislocated shoulder he suffered last Sunday. At least he attempted to cheer himself up with a trip to McDonalds which he shared with us via Twitter. A lost boy in need of a change of fortune.
It has become more and more apparent that Oussama Assaidi has been procured as nothing more than a back-up player, a meagre 3 league appearances will testify to this. While the African Cup of Nations posed a headache for a host of European clubs, the Moroccan was out there for some badly needed match practice. The renewed faith the manager has in Stewart Downing has been to the detriment of his chances. An odd eye catching run here and a shimmy and cross there is all we have seen of the wide man. Since his arrival we are none the wiser as to the quality of this player, one thing is for sure, he is not fancied by the management and he has so far not fitted into the Rodgers picture.
It is unclear as to what reasons he was signed as he is not particularly young at 24, perhaps it was just to make up the numbers – a baffling purchase. I would put Nuri Sahin in a similar bracket, used sparingly despite having a glowing reputation Europe-wide. I believe his problem was that at Borussia Dortmund, where he is a star, he was central to the way they played, the central figure in an effervescent side. At Liverpool, that man is Luis Suarez. After starting brightly he quickly faded and injuries took hold, as they did at Real Madrid. A fine player but unfortunately it didn’t work out for him and this happens sometimes in football.
I have discussed Joe Allen many times on the website, his pros and cons have been widely publicised. The Welshman is a long way from winning over the doubters who have multiplied in the last few months. Brendan Rodgers’ “eyes and ears on the pitch” has been taken out of the firing line recently. It remains to be seen how he will react to such a setback, with baying crowds on his back due to his form being sub-standard, he has found himself at the brunt of all that is wrong with the side at the moment. In the midst of the lowest ebb of his Anfield career, we will now learn more about his mental strength and his will to succeed at the club.
Our most recent and extravagant purchases have given us extra attacking zeal. Daniel Sturridge has surprised me not by his ability, but how quickly he has show telepathy with Suarez. His all round play has been superb but his instincts around the box have finally made us look like we may finish off the bits and pieces in and around the six yard box which he has proven already. We have missed him on the occasions he has been cup tied or injured. We also seem to play an extra five or ten yards up the pitch when he is tying up defenders with clever touches and movement. We have high hopes for him for seasons to come.
Philippe Coutinho has arrived with a glowing reputation, hotly tipped for a big future in the game this speedy dribbler and clever link man was close to perfection against Swansea, prodding, probing and scoring. He certainly is a young man with a big future but opinions need to be put in check until the end of the season after we have had a good look at him, but so far so good.
All in all, a mixed bag really. Disappointment, underachievement and hope are the underlining emotions I feel when I think of what these players have brought and may still bring to the squad. How they fit in attempting to reverse the clubs fortunes remain to be seen.