International Soccer
By Tim Keeble, Soccer Editor - Archive - Email
Liverpool not seeing enough return on investment
Andy Carroll was viewed as a future star when he joined from Newcastle.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - John Henry and New England Sports Ventures completed a takeover of Liverpool for nearly $470 million in October 2010 with the hope that the group would invest the kind of money needed to return the club to elite status.

It didn't take long for Henry and his associates to sink more cash into the team as Liverpool shelled out nearly $90 million in January 2011 on a pair of forwards who were expected to add considerable punch to an increasingly toothless attack.

Andy Carroll was viewed as a future star when he joined from Newcastle, while Luis Suarez was coming off an excellent performance at the 2010 World Cup for Uruguay and was a proven scorer with Ajax in the Eredivisie.

Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish also returned to the sidelines that January in place of Roy Hodgson, and suddenly things were looking up around Anfield.

Despite the fact that the Reds finished last season in sixth place and out of Europe, there was a feeling of hope as Dalglish guided the side to a strong finish that carried over into more spending this summer.

The additions of Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson cost an additional $75 million, and with them came expectations of a return to the top four.

So if your counting, Liverpool spent $165 million on five players over the past year. Yet following a 1-0 defeat to Sunderland on Saturday, the club finds itself in seventh place and well off the pace of a place in the Champions League.

This wasn't how the season was supposed to go for Dalglish and his team with such an influx of talent combining with veterans such as captain Steven Gerrard and goalkeeper Pepe Reina.

Saturday's defeat was the club's third straight in the league, marking the first time since 2003 that Liverpool has dropped three successive league matches.

And with just two goals scored in the past four games, it's easy to see where much of the blame resides.

Carroll and Suarez are simply not producing, with the duo combining to score nine goals in 47 league appearances.

Suarez has missed time through suspension, with his much-publicized eight- match ban for racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra springing to mind.

The Uruguayan has been good in spots, but has made more headlines for the wrong reasons than anything positive he has done on the field.

But Carroll has just failed to live up to the hype, and it was telling that in one of the club's biggest games of the season, a 2-1 defeat to Arsenal one week ago, Carroll was left on the bench.

The performances of midfield players like Adam and Henderson have not been much better as Henderson is still searching for his first goal, while Adam has at least contributed six assists and two goals during an inconsistent campaign.

Downing also has failed to find the back of the net even once in the league from his wing position as he, like the other new additions to the team, continues to collect a hefty paycheck without providing a lot of production.

"The players need to take responsibility for where we are in the league," Gerrard said.

"It's just not good enough for a club like us to be there. We have to find a better level of consistency."

Gerrard is spot on in terms of consistency, which has been a problem all season for the team.

The level of play at home in particular has been poor with Liverpool claiming only four wins from 13 games at Anfield, which is normally one of the tougher grounds for opposing sides.

But despite a poor run of form, there is still the possibility that things can turn around in time to save the season.

The club has already won the League Cup and finds itself in contention for a return to Wembley for the FA Cup final.

And in terms of the league table, Liverpool's schedule over the final 11 games of the campaign is favorable as the club will face only four teams in the top half of the Premiership, and none higher than fifth-place Chelsea.

It was just a few years ago that Liverpool finished second to Manchester United at the top of the table, and with the amount of money the team has spent, there is no reason why they shouldn't be knocking on that door once again.

"We'll say what we said after the very first game of the season - we'll play all the matches, count the points up and see where we finish up," Dalglish said following Saturday's defeat.

On paper, Liverpool's ownership group has put together a team that should be capable of challenging for a title.

Unfortunately, when the points are counted, it's hard to see Liverpool being very pleased with its place.

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