Jim White

Rodgers saddled with poisonous legacy

Jim White

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Legacy - that's this summer's buzz word. The Olympics, the Paralympics - between them they are supposed to leave us with something that will flourish for decades, change the emotional and geographical landscape, put a spring in our collective step for years to come.

And then there is the legacy left by Kenny Dalglish and Damien Comolli at Anfield. Over £100 million spent in developing a team for the future, a team that was supposed to take Liverpool back to where they feel they belong: the top. So, how did that one go?

The recently concluded transfer season saw one of the biggest slaps in the face ever conducted on a previous management. All new football bosses come into a fresh position looking to change things, to bring in their own people, perhaps to move on a few of the old guard. Brendan Rodgers, however, delivered the starkest of critiques on his predecessor: he attempted to remove from the roster almost every one of the signings made by the previous administration.

Of all the buys Dalglish and Comolli undertook, only two remain anywhere near the forefront of Rodgers's planning. Luis Suarez and Jose Enrique will not be going anywhere under his management, unlike the departed Andy Carroll and Charlie Adam, who could have been joined by Jordan Henderson had Liverpool got their way in a part exchange deal with Fulham for Clint Dempsey.

Plus Stewart Downing who, if not actually being unloaded, has been told in no uncertain terms that his only chance of staying on the payroll on Merseyside is to convert himself into an emergency left-back.

And the odd thing about the bargain basement clearout is this: there can be few Kop stalwarts who will consider that Rodgers was wrong in his salesmanship. Dalglish may have been worshipped around Anfield, but even his most devoted subjects would be pushed to argue that his transfer dealings over the last year of his tenure strengthened the club.

Millions of pounds were forked out in fees and wages for a collection of players who, in truth, were never up to the standard required. Worse, under ownership which prides itself on the assiduous search for value in the marketplace, most were bought at ridiculously inflated prices. John W Henry was persuaded to sign vast cheques for a collection of over-priced tat. It was the inverse of alchemy, a process which turned American gold into base metal.

Henry admitted as much in his open letter to supporters on Monday when he explained how "the errors of previous regimes ... [have] been compounded by our own mistakes".

Rodgers's very speed of action suggests he is a man not willing to be hamstrung by previous mistakes even for a moment. He wants his people in place and he wants them now. Interestingly, there has been nothing dogmatic in his approach. He has looked at the squad he inherited and has been prepared to elevate those who fit into his idea of what makes a good player. Raheem Sterling and Jonjo Shelvey have both been given their chance to shine. Sterling in particular looks a real talent.

What he was not prepared to do was waste his patience on those he considered fundamentally inadequate to the task required of them. And that basically meant most of Dalglish's men.

And you can't help feeling the new man may well be proven right. After just a few outings, Joe Allen, for instance, already looks far more at home in a red shirt than Henderson ever has done. The odd thing is, right from the moment he was bought anyone could see Henderson wasn't made of the right stuff to follow in the footsteps of Graeme Souness, Steve McMahon and Terry McDermott. Actually, before he was signed most observers recognised he was never good enough.

Speak to any Sunderland supporter and they will express bafflement at why Liverpool paid such an inflated fee for a player they scarcely noticed was in their team. And while Carroll's thunderous header in the Euros pointed out that he is not the comedy act many of his critics paint him as, the £35 million Comolli negotiated to pay for him is the very definition of a joke figure.

When Dalglish was quietly shown the door at the tail end of last season there were many who concluded it was because of his handling of the Suarez affair and his growing tetchiness in his dealings with the media. Clearly this was not the case. Were Henry and his cohorts as sensitive about the public relations blunder unleashed by the South American's vocabulary as some insist, then he would surely have been the first to be removed from the roster this summer. But he has stayed.

Rodgers's actions have demonstrated that it is much more likely Dalglish was removed for his failure in the transfer market. The hierarchy recognised that it was not so much the manager as the staff he had recruited who were holding back the development of the club.

Hard as it may be for those in thrall to the cult of King Kenny, but it may not be long before they are obliged to admit that Henry got this one right. Rodgers has already demonstrated he is a man who knows a player. And he can start the proper rebuilding process now he has rid himself of the legacy he inherited.

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