Liverpool manager caught short in attack by Fabio Borini blow with the club's grandiose plans undermined by transfer mistake
How ironic that after another week of global debate over Luis Suárez's theatrics he should be the last striker standing at Liverpool. How badly the shortage reflects on a club of such grandiose designs.
Fabio Borini is where one of the two remaining senior strikers at Liverpool was always destined to be following the club's calamitous end to the transfer window – on the sidelines, having broken a foot while training with Italy Under-21 in Pescara on Thursday. Liverpool are awaiting their own assessment of the £10.5m summer signing from Roma before putting a timescale on his recovery. It will be a surprise, and a rare piece of good fortune for Brendan Rodgers, to see the 21-year-old back before the transfer window reopens in January.
The Liverpool manager has 18 Premier League, Europa League and Capital One Cup fixtures to navigate until then, more should he overcome his former club, Swansea City, in the latter competition on 31 October. Rodgers will also be worried by the fact that Uruguay take on Argentina and Bolivia in World Cup qualifiers in the coming days. Lose Suárez and Liverpool's pool of strikers will amount to Daniel Pacheco, Adam Morgan, Samil Yesil and Jerome Sinclair, aged 21, 18, 18 and 16 respectively. Only Pacheco has appeared in the Premier League. And this was the area of the Liverpool team in most need of improvement under Kenny Dalglish.
Borini has made a slow start to life at Anfield and the sense of alarm at his loss is not a reflection of his contribution thus far. Rodgers, in fairness, took responsibility for the Italian's difficult adjustment last week after playing Borini in an unfavoured position out wide. The manager also claimed then that his plan was to integrate Borini into the first team gradually but had to abandon such thoughts "because of where we were at".
That is as much as Rodgers can say these days about Liverpool's performance in the last transfer window. It was well documented at the time and, as a new young manager in a major role, he has nothing to gain by reiterating annoyance at his employers' failure to back his judgment on Clint Dempsey on transfer deadline day. Plus his predicament is recognised by the Anfield faithful, prompting the manager to thank supporters for their patience after Sunday's goalless draw against Stoke City.
Rodgers' gratitude towards the fans was overshadowed by the rancour that followed Tony Pulis' calls for Suárez to be banned for a belly-flop inside the Stoke area and Robert Huth's escape for stamping on the Liverpool striker. So, too, was the Liverpool manager's astonishing dismissal of Andy Carroll when asked if he regretted not having the centre-forward in the late push for victory. "I'm not one who goes down the desperation route," he replied. "I don't do the desperation thing by kicking it long in the last 10 minutes." But Liverpool, right now, do not have a squad to deliver Rodgers' Plan A or B, the latter being "to make Plan A better".
The Liverpool manager may have been naive for believing that, by letting Carroll join West Ham United on a season-long loan 24 hours before the transfer deadline, Fenway Sports Group would finally bow to his appeal to pay £6m for the 29-year-old Dempsey the following day. As they should have done. He has learned from that episode but, in terms of compromising his tactical beliefs to accommodate the players at his disposal, Rodgers has been unwavering and refused. The stance appears self-defeating at this early stage in his Liverpool career.
Rodgers' fortune so far as Liverpool manager stems from reaping the benefits of a youth academy system put in place by Rafael Benítez and implemented by Frank McParland. He has had little option but to champion young talent this season, and it is to his credit that Raheem Sterling, Suso and Andre Wisdom have been given the opportunity to shine. One by-product is the marginalising of Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson, players who cannot argue with their current status but who may be required by Rodgers until January, when FSG can make amends by providing their manager with a Theo Walcott or a Darren Bent.