Legends like Rush, Fowler, Hunt, Liddell… but now there's no Liverpool No 9
12:22 GMT, 7 September 2012
Amid the conjecture about failed bids, missed opportunities, broken promises and letters from America, a startling fact has, perhaps, gone unnoticed this week.
After a summer when 'false nines' were a regular topic of conversation, Liverpool find themselves contemplating a campaign that, unless decisive action is taken in January, could play out without their No 9 scoring a single goal.
Andy Carroll's controversial departure to West Ham before the transfer window closed, coupled with Clint Dempsey’s failure to arrive from Fulham, has not only left Liverpool a striker short, it means one of the club’s most iconic jerseys remains vacant.
Missing something Brendan Rodgers has endured a tricky start to life as manager of Liverpool
It is an unprecedented situation. Yet, effectively, the shirt that has been worn by Liverpool’s greatest goalscorers, men like Billy Liddell and 'Sir' Roger Hunt, Ian Rush, Robbie Fowler, and more recently Fernando Torres has, been temporarily retired.
More from Dominic King…
Mersey Beat: Has the first major shift in power since 1937 happened on Merseyside
Mersey Beat: Rodgers can talk the talk… now he must deliver results at Liverpool
Mersey Beat: Carroll would never have imagined this after strong Euro 2012
Mersey Beat: All change at Liverpool but Shankly tradition must remain
Mersey Beat: Andy Carroll from zero to hero – times have changed for Liverpool No 9
Mersey Beat: Why Aquilani's Anfield return would not be the worst outcome for Liverpool
Mersey Beat: The return of Roy Hodgson – but what reception can he expect
Mersey Beat: The knives are out, but King Kenny must be afforded more time at Liverpool
VIEW FULL ARCHIVE
At a time when critics are claiming
Liverpool are losing their identity, they could have done without losing
such a huge symbol.
That Brendan Rodgers admitted Carroll would not have been allowed to leave, had he known he could not get a replacement in made all the more unpalatable.
In the grand scheme of things, the absence of one number on the pitch might not appear such a big issue but it could easily become one; Liverpool have hardly been prolific in recent seasons and there are understandable fears on The Kop that they will be made to pay for a lack of goals.
So it begs the question: why have Liverpool been left so short Reading between the lines of the missive principal owner John W Henry published on the club’s official website earlier this week, it boils down to Fenway Sports Group not wanting to meet Fulham’s valuation of a 29-year-old.
As the dust settles, the decision looks more and more bewildering for three key reasons. First had Dempsey arrived for 5million, there is every reason to believe Liverpool could have recouped what they paid if they wanted to move him on two years down the line.
Secondly, from a commercial view, Dempsey is one of the United States' star men. Photographing him in the new Warrior kit and putting his image on billboards would undoubtedly have led to an increase in Liverpool shirt sales in America, thus providing another return on their investment.
Last, and by no means least, Dempsey knows how to flourish in the Barclays Premier League. He was outstanding for Fulham last season, scoring 17 times. The less goals Liverpool score, the further they will drop down the table and, at 750,000 a place, it could ultimately cost them significant a sum.
Legendary: Likes of Ian Rush, Robbie Fowler, Billy Liddell and Roger Hunt have all donned the No 9
Some of the points Henry made in his note were valid and it is admirable he has a philosophy he wants to make work but FSG will cause themselves unnecessary problems if they don’t possess flexibility. Surely the mystery men who are advising them have said that
Not backing Rodgers last Friday has increased the suspicions of some supporters and no amount of platitudes or promises that FSG are 'in it for the long haul' will placate the discontented. They want to see their manager receive backing, not get undermined.
'If there is a player out there who can make a difference, we will do all that we possibly can to bring him to the football club,' Rodgers said back on July 9.
'What I won’t be prepared to do is waste time, money and effort to bring in a player who won’t add value to the club. I will push the boat to get the players that I want to get in. Hopefully the board will support me on that.'
Hammered: Liverpool allowed Andy Carroll to join West Ham without a replacement being sorted
Events on deadline have put a completely different hue on those words. When Rodgers need support to sign the forward he believed would have made a difference, he didn’t get it and now, farcically, Liverpool are left without a No 9.
Now it would be wrong to say Liverpool are in crisis. This current predicament, after all, is small fry compared to what was happening two years ago, when the Hicks-Gillett reign was crumbling. But what it undoubtedly means is a difficult period is on the horizon.
Only in January, when Rodgers will aim to bolster his options, will it be discovered if salutary lessons have been learned.