Brendan Rodgers has earned himself a fine reputation as a coach and man manger over the last decade and last season he guided Liverpool to within touching distance of a first league title in 24 years.
Many fans at Anfield hoped that it would be the watershed moment for their club after challenging at the top of the table only sparingly in the Premier League era and having been closer to mid-table than the Champions League in the last few years.
However, the new campaign has already been a struggle for Liverpool. Rodgers' team have lost just as many Premier League games as they've won and have found adjusting to European football difficult.
Most people would point to the departure of Luis Suarez as the key difference between this season and last. Any team would struggle to replace a player of such quality, but Liverpool received £75m for the Uruguayan and re-invested all of it and more back into the squad over the summer.
It's what the supporters wanted to see, though the only problem is the actual quality of players brought in. It very much seems that Liverpool have fallen into the same trap as Tottenham after selling Gareth Bale in 2013, but perhaps, given their seemingly loftier ambitions, on an even grander scale. It's certainly ironic that in March Rodgers made a quip about Tottenham not challenging for the title despite their £100m spent.
Now, seeing how the new Anfield arrivals have settled in, there is a real case that Rodgers' eye for a transfer has let him and his club down significantly. Over the summer, Liverpool brought in several expensive players, but none have come close to replacing the quality that was lost.
Mario Balotelli was described as a "calculated risk" because of his past off-field antics, but it is only the Italian striker's on-field performances, or rather lack of, that have produced headlines so far. He has looked moody and disinterested for the most part, while his quality has been tellingly lacking on the rare occasions he does get involved in games.
Several of the other signings have failed to make a positive impact as well. Lazar Markovic arrived from Benfica for £20m, but hasn't shown anything to suggest he is a top level player. He may only be young, but seems to have spent more time nursing niggling injuries than playing. Adam Lallana has been an exceptional player for Southampton over the last few years, but so far he clearly lacks the quality to make the step up to elite level. Dejan Lovren too, a £20m acquisition, has been very poor.
Rickie Lambert was given a dream homecoming at the age of 32, but has barely kicked a ball all season. Rodgers has even preferred Raheem Sterling in a 'false 9' role, suggesting he hasn't been sufficiently impressed by Lambert in training. Emre Can arrived for close to £10m, but hasn't had a chance to make an impact because of a string of frustrating injuries.
Spanish full-back Alberto Moreno has looked promising at times, but he has made similarly naive defensive errors to cost goals and games on at least two occasions and hasn't learnt. Certain players may yet improve, but given the amount of money spent the early signs are very concerning indeed.
Unfortunately for Liverpool, Rodgers' failings in the transfer market aren't exclusive to this past summer and are evident throughout his entire Anfield reign. His very first signings were Joe Allen and Fabio Borini, players he had successfully worked with before. Both have struggled with injuries, but Allen in particular has been poor and at a combined price of £25m, it looks very much like money wasted.
Oussama Assaidi also joined that summer and now appears much more comfortable at Stoke's level. Last summer, Spanish duo Luis Alberto and Iago Aspas both completely flopped, while £9m arrival Simon Mignolet, though a good shot stopper, is not commanding enough to be a top level goalkeeper. Mamadou Sakho was the most expensive defender in Liverpool history when he signed for £19m, but regularly looks nervous and accident prone when he plays.
Arguably Rodgers' best transfer window came in January 2013 when Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho arrived. But even those two don't necessarily look like good buys anymore. Coutinho's form has been patchy at best, while before his injury, Sturridge, without Suarez, looked every bit like the frustratingly inconsistent player cast off by Chelsea.
The success of Rodgers' Liverpool last season was based on a few individuals that he inherited. Being able to identify players that will add quality to a existing group is the difference between success and mediocrity and Rodgers has consistently failed Liverpool when it comes to the transfer market.
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