IT was the biggest challenge facing Kenny Dalglish and Damien Comolli this summer.As they looked to build a bright future for Liverpool, they found themselves also having to deal with the errors of the past.
The duo were tasked with overseeing the biggest clearout in Anfield history and late on Wednesday night their mission was accomplished.
No fewer than 18 players have been shown the door in the past three months. Thirteen have been sold or released with another five heading out on loan. Many should never have been anywhere near a red shirt.
Deadwood has belatedly been shifted and it hasn’t been painless with some bagging sizeable pay-offs for contracts they never did anything to justify.
But it had to be done. The likes of Nabil El Zhar, Emiliano Insua, Milan Jovanovic and Philipp Degen had to be consigned to Anfield history.
A streamlined squad enabled owners Fenway Sports Group to cut the inflated wage bill which shocked them when they bought the club last October. Sales also brought in around £21million in fees to offset the spending spree of around £56million.
The folly of last summer’s transfer activity is laid bare by the fact that only Brad Jones and Danny Wilson remain of Roy Hodgson’s signings and neither has made the squad for a league game so far this season.
Christian Poulsen, Paul Konchesky, Jovanovic, Joe Cole and Raul Meireles have all moved on.
For some fans Meireles’ dramatic departure was a bitter pill to swallow, especially considering his choice of destination.
The Portugal international wasn’t short of admirers at Anfield following his £11.5million arrival from Porto a year ago.
His popularity was boosted by his first goal for the Reds in the Merseyside derby, which was swiftly followed by that stunning volley at Wolves and the winner at Stamford Bridge.
His five goals came in as many weeks and secured him plenty of plaudits but in truth from mid-February onwards his impact waned.
Meireles could be a creative influence but too often he was a passenger in games and in physical contests he wilted.
The summer signings of Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson – coupled with the return to fitness of Steven Gerrard – were always going to leave Meireles facing a battle to hold down a place in Liverpool’s midfield.
After starting this season on the bench he had a choice – to stay and fight or admit defeat and go elsewhere.
His mood in recent weeks suggested his mind was already made up. He didn’t have the stomach for the battle.
Liverpool would have kept him as a valued squad player but when he looked to force through a move to Chelsea by submitting a written transfer late on Wednesday night, the Reds had little option but to sell.
Dalglish showed with Fernando Torres in January that he’s not interested in keeping someone who doesn’t want to be there.
If someone won’t buy into the manager’s team ethic then you are better off without them – regardless of their talent. A decent fee of £12million was secured and Liverpool move on.
Meireles belongs to Liverpool’s past and now Dalglish can continue plotting the Reds’ future.