Transfer madness expected on deadline day

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With a crazy last 12 hours of the transfer market still to go, I would like to declare my right to retract everything I say in this column on Saturday morning. By then, I might be well and truly exposed for writing bollocks.

But for now, with managers playing their hands like poker players and the rest of us outside the casino, this is how I see it.

As I see it, I like Liverpool. I like Brendan Rodgers. I like what he appears to be doing, what he appears to be trying. I am not suggesting for a moment that Liverpool fans can wake up on Saturday morning safe in the knowledge that the good days are back, but I think it is a good start.

And the irony of that is that, in the transfer market, he seems to be going out of his way to unpick all the stitching that Kenny Dalglish left behind.

The popularity curve of Andy Carroll seems to have been rising and falling like a heartbeat these last two years, but having persuaded West Ham to come up with a reasonable offer, then it is clearly a move firmly in the direction of progress.

Carroll appeared, to some, to have something of a rebirth at the end of last season, but rather than hang an opinion on the goal he scored that gave Liverpool hope in the Cup Final, mine rests on the goals that he missed.

Dalglish’s £35m on Carroll, it seems, is about as mis-spent a bank balance as the Premier League has seen. I would even leave Fernando Torres out of that debate – just for the moment, mind. But Torres has genuine class and in Roberto Di Matteo, he appears to have a manager interested in working properly and sensibly on his rehabilitation.

So I like what Di Matteo is doing also. I like the fact that he has not bought a Didier Drogba replacement. He has, in Eden Hazard, instead bought another player to compliment Torres’ skills rather than to keep him on the bench at Chelsea.

Back to Liverpool. Charlie Adam, one of the foundation stones of Dalglish’s brave new world, looks highly likely to be house-hunting in Stoke by the weekend – and I concede some ground to Dalglish here. When he signed Adam, it seemed good sense at the time. So I got that one wrong too. Most people did.

But most people are not/were not paid to manage a football club. Dalglish got Adam wrong and I have no doubt that he got Carroll wrong too. But if Rodgers can unpick all that and land his targets – Clint Dempsey and Theo Walcott – then Liverpool are an exciting prospect.

I am quite surprised, though, with the tone of Rodgers’ comments. He could not have expressed more clearly and more openly his disaffection for Carroll. It's was therefore extremely important that they managed to offload him, for the sake of team spirit at least. That is where Rodgers appears to have a strength.

Either way, whatever wheeling and dealing he completes while the window is still open, Rodgers’ work will not be complete. Nowhere near. But as a sign of his judgement and intent, it is impressive.

Less clear is what is happening at White Hart Lane. Andre Villas-Boas has been extraordinarily fortunate to reinvent himself as a Premier League manager so soon after the failure of his Chelsea tenure.

AVB needs to impress quickly and signing Moussa Dembélé was a good start. Quite how he wants the whole package to glue together into a football team is what has yet to be revealed. Nothing like that was ever actually revealed at Stamford Bridge.

Finally, the manager whose ceaseless shopping I find most inscrutable is Mark Hughes. It seemed kneejerk and random the way he skits from one goalkeeper to the next, one defender to the next. You rarely get the impression with Hughes that he has a solid plan which he wants to build.

If there would be one office in which I could be a fly-on-the-wall for the next 12 hours, it would be Hughes. I do not yet get his policy – either in the market or what he hopes to do with his acquisitions once the market has shut.

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