By David Lynch
Brendan Rodgers could hardly conceal his delight having seen Liverpool bookend what he described as a “bumpy” week with a 5-0 win over Swansea on Sunday afternoon.
The Reds went into the game having suffered back-to-back 2-0 defeats to West Brom and Zenit St Petersburg which have severely harmed their hopes of a top-four finish and Europa League success. This was a seven days which threatened to define the Northern Irishman’s indifferent start to life in charge at Anfield, or potentially even bring it to a premature end.
The Brazilian had been handed his full debut for the Anfield club, and grabbed a goal in a tricky, if admittedly patchy, performance by way of celebration. Meanwhile, Sturridge put in a showing of such enormity upon his return from injury that club captain Steven Gerrard handed him penalty duties in the second half so that he might seek fitting reward.
The most telling indicator of the duo’s impact, however, was that Luis Suarez, who had featured in both the disappointing performances earlier in the week, also scored and grabbed an assist. The importance of fresh attacking blood not only supplementing the Uruguayan’s work but improving it was clear as Suarez found the space consistently denied him during games in which he represented the Reds’ sole goal threat.
Of course, getting carried away with oneself in light of a solitary good result is something that Rodgers himself even warned against after the game, being fully aware that neither will be able to feature in the Europa League. He told reporters: “I liken us to a marathon runner just getting ready for the finish line, we’re ready to make a move, make a run and then we trip up. But we trip ourselves up.”
And he was right. Demolition job or otherwise, beating a much-weakened Swansea team with one eye on next week’s Capital One Cup final should be no cause for celebration at a club as big as Liverpool. The south Wales outfit also represent the first team from those who currently make up the top half of the Premier League which the Reds have beaten this term.
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But, on the evidence provided by more than just those 90 minutes, dare the home fans believe that, for the first in a long time, Liverpool have enjoyed a productive transfer window?
Two young, hungry players have been brought in who were, arguably, undervalued by their clubs, and both have made an immediate and positive impact. Should they continue in this vein, then both purchases represent the ‘Moneyball’ ideal which Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group are believed to strive for.
In simple terms, the pair could represent the first successful series of buys enjoyed by the Merseyside outfit since their recent decline was put into motion. The additions of Yossi Benayoun and Fernando Torres in the summer of 2007, which came just months after Javier Mascherano and Alvaro Arbeloa had arrived, represent an unmatched precedent in the modern history of Liverpool Football Club.
Since then the likes of Alberto Aquilani, Robbie Keane and Paul Konchesky have accounted for consistently damaging outlays over a number of windows. Unsurprisingly, even Luis Suarez’s arrival was tempered by the €41 million signing of striker Andy Carroll, who is now out on loan at West Ham.
During this period, three managers have been handed their marching orders by the Anfield side, after they effectively forced themselves to attempt turning water into wine thanks to a disastrous transfer policy.
Rodgers will now hope to avoid becoming the fourth casualty in that increasingly lengthy list by making things easier for himself next season. Buying wine instead of water is certainly a good start.
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