Rodgers despair as owners won't pay up
Feature by Daily Telegraph
Updated Saturday, 1st September 2012
Liverpool failed to fill the void left by Andy Carroll's departure because the club's owners refused to sanction a £7 million deal for the former Fulham player Clint Dempsey.
Fenway Sports Group were unwilling to meet the price – understood to be £1 million above that quoted to other clubs – and now Rodgers faces the improbable task of leading Liverpool back into the Champions League with Luis Suárez as the only experienced striker at the club.
As the clock ticked before the closure of the transfer window, it emerged that Rodgers was not just frantically negotiating with Dempsey’s club Fulham, but also his own board as he argued his case on the merits of signing the 29-year-old.
Dempsey had earlier rejected the chance to join Aston Villa, desperate for Liverpool to re-open negotiations, before finally holding talks with Spurs. On another difficult day in the tumultuous recent history of the Merseyside club, it became apparent that one of the main stumbling blocks to a deal was FSG’s new, restrained transfer policy and determination to enforce more prudent financial management.
Despite slashing the wage bill by millions, including offloading Carroll on the presumption it would free funds for a replacement, Rodgers was informed the fee for Dempsey was too high and that he could offer only up to £5 million. FSG were reluctant to spend significant money on a player in his late 20s entering the final year of his contract.
They have stated previously they would rather invest in young talent than those who will have no sell on value at the end of their contracts, and they are still reeling from the millions wasted by the previous management regime.
It seemed inconceivable as the deadline approached, having allowed Carroll to join West Ham on loan, that Rodgers would be left with only Suárez as a senior striker, but that is the hand he has now been dealt until January. Should Suárez suffer an injury in the next few months, Rodgers will have only Fabio Borini — signed predominantly as a wide man – as a realistic alternative.
The transfer window has provided a thorough education for the latest Anfield incumbent on the financial reality gripping the club. He may feel it has little in common with the public pronouncements when he joined Liverpool.
Chairman Tom Werner suggested last season that Liverpool could match the top clubs in Europe. “I would say we certainly have the resources to compete with anybody in football,” he said on April 12.
At Rodgers’s unveiling in June, a club statement went even further, suggesting the high spending of the previous management regime would not impact on the new coach’s transfer plans.
It read: “The owners are always willing to provide funds where necessary to strengthen the squad.
“There will be no requirement to sell players this summer in order to fund new purchases.”
These claims do not seem to tally with Rodgers’s failure to get the green light to sign Dempsey, particularly given the number of senior players who have left since he was appointed, many of whom he was helpless to prevent departing. Numerous high-earning players have departed since the end of last season, including Dirk Kuyt, Craig Bellamy, Alberto Aquilani, Andy Carroll and Maxi Rodriguez.
Fabio Aurelio, Charlie Adam and Jay Spearing have also been moved on, equating to a conservative estimate of £20 million slashed in wages, and yet Rodgers still found himself pleading in vain for the funds to force through the Dempsey deal.
Liverpool also held talks with Chelsea for the loan signing of Daniel Sturridge, but the England international wanted to make the transfer permanent.
Rodgers possessed neither the funds nor the inclination to bid £15 million for his services and Sturridge was a substitute in Chelsea’s Super Cup defeat in Monaco.
The early part of the day at Anfield was spent offloading players. Adam moved to Stoke for £4 million, Spearing headed to Bolton for a season’s loan and youngsters Danny Wilson and Nathan Eccleston headed to Blackpool on loan. Dani Pacheco moved to Real Valladolid.