While neither Luis Suarez’s handball against Mansfield or Brendan Rodgers' subsequent defence of his player came as a surprise, it does point to a larger calculation on the manager’s mind. Liverpool need to leverage the player's loyalty so as to not lose him.
With Steven Gerrard's career drawing to a close, Suarez represents Liverpool's last remaining world-class talent. Which begs the question; could today's Liverpool team attract another Suarez? Moreover, do the owners even have the funds to splash the cash?
Former manager Kenny Daglish took much of the blame for the recent expensive flops. However, the reality is that Liverpool can no longer attract the same calibre of players that it once could, and the players that Daglish brought in may have been the best out of a bad bunch.
The world's best players are rarely short of options when choosing to seek pastures new. Liverpool cannot expect to compete with the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City in terms of wages, especially when they're without a Premier League title for nearly 20 years, no Champions League football on offer and have only one domestic cup trophy to show for their 'work' over the past seven years.
While fans of the club can point to their rich history in European competition, the harsh reality is that the amount of money awarded for winning the League Cup pales insignificant in comparison to the revenue generated by appearing in the Champions League. In other words, financially it's better to lose the Carling Cup and finish 4th in the league than it is to win the competition and end up in 8th place.
Unfortunately, fans who are hoping the club's owners, Fenway Sports Group, will splash the cash in a bid to change the fortunes of the club need only look at how John W Henry rebuilt the Boston Red Sox - spending prudently and working within their means.
Given Liverpool's current league-standing and their inability to compete against the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea in terms of wages and transfer fees, fans will have to accept that this mediocrity is the new norm for the club - for the time being at least.
If Rogers' youthful signings develop as anticipated, Liverpool may become a force once more, but for now, underachieving is the buzz word at Anfield, and it may be a little while yet before things change on the Kop.
Whether or not the club's new strategy pays off for will be determined over the course of the next few years, and can only be successful if they build the team, develop and grow together, becoming a successful club across all levels. Only time will tell.
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