ONCE again deadline day passed with Liverpool inactive as others frantically tried to beat the clock and strengthen their ranks.
But this time there is no need for an open letter from principal owner John W Henry in a bid to appease supporters’ unrest.
Unlike the disastrous summer transfer window, when their failure to replace Andy Carroll following his loan move to West Ham triggered an avalanche of criticism and left the squad desperately short of firepower, Liverpool got their business done.
Brendan Rodgers’ pressing concern in January was boosting his side’s attacking options and that mission was accomplished with the acquisition of Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho prior to deadline day.
Of course the boss wanted winger Tom Ince as well but with Blackpool refusing to budge from their inflated £8million valuation, Rodgers was supportive of the club’s decision to walk away.
Ince wouldn’t have gone straight into Liverpool’s side anyway and the youngster will benefit from continuing his development in the Championship. This summer he will enter the final 12 months of his contract and that price tag will fall accordingly.
Liverpool spent £20.5million in January and the only top flight club to exceed that amount was QPR as Harry Redknapp embarked on a late panic buying spree in a bid to stave off relegation.
That figure represents a significant mid-season outlay by Fenway Sports Group (FSG), especially considering the Reds’ ongoing absence from the Champions League and the owners’ determination to ensure the club lives within its means.
Throw in the net spend of around £24million last summer and it means around £45million has been invested to help Rodgers to rebuild the squad he inherited seven months ago.
Yet praise for FSG’s backing has been muted to say the least and there are numerous reasons for that. For starters, the impact of Sturridge has been bitter-sweet. His contribution has merely reinforced the folly of the summer window when Liverpool didn’t buy a striker.
Liverpool stand seven points off a Champions League today but where would they be if Luis Suarez hadn’t had to wait until January for some support?
There is also a sense of continuing unease among supporters at a transfer strategy which seeks to only buy players aged 23 and under.
Why the obsession with sell-on values when if you buy the right players in their prime they will provide an instant return?
A desire to build for the long-term by investing in youth is understandable, but you simply can’t afford to ignore the here and now otherwise you run the risk of your best talent growing disillusioned and walking away.
You need old heads to help youngsters blossom – highlighted best by the impact of Gary McAllister during the Reds’ treble-winning campaign of 2001. Rodgers recently admitted Liverpool were lacking experience and leaders but that still hasn’t been addressed.
Before Christmas, the manager also bemoaned the size of his squad but the group he’s working with now is even smaller than it was then after the exit of Joe Cole, Nuri Sahin, Danny Wilson and Dani Pacheco.
That followed a summer window when Fabio Aurelio, Dirk Kuyt, Maxi Rodriguez, Alberto Aquilani, Craig Bellamy, Charlie Adam, Jay Spearing and Carroll all went out with only Joe Allen, Fabio Borini, Oussama Assaidi and Samed Yesil coming in.
A sizeable chunk of the £45million investment on players over the past year has been subsidised by Rodgers off-loading so many high earners and hacking back the wage bill.
If a few injuries kick in over the coming months, that lack of depth will be exposed.
The January window was a step forward for Liverpool but issues remain which can’t be ignored this summer.