Arsenal defeat adds to Liverpool's off-field worries
Liverpool's inner workings will soon be exposed to public gaze via a fly-on-the-wall documentary. It may be to their eternal relief that the cameras stopped rolling before transfer deadline day.
The events of the last 72 hours would have held huge appeal for football voyeurs - but may have made grim viewing for manager Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool's owners Fenway Sports Group.
Liverpool's 2-0 loss at home to Arsenal left them without a Premier League win this season and the bright new dawn of the Rodgers era has coincided with their worst start for 50 years. Thousands of empty seats and the ominous sound of silence at the final whistle told the tale.
It was the sub-plot to the defeat that carried the more disturbing undertones, with Rodgers facing an inquisition into his relationship with his American paymasters so soon into his tenure.
Rodgers did his best to dance around the more loaded - and perfectly understandable questions - but one thing was beyond doubt. He only sanctioned Andy Carroll's departure on loan to West Ham with the firm conviction and understanding that he would be allowed to sign a replacement. To his obvious frustration, this did not happen.
The proposed replacement, Clint Dempsey, ended up at Tottenham when he moved from Fulham as Liverpool declined to spend £6m on a 29-year-old. The failure to conclude the deal shone a harsh spotlight on the current financial climate at Anfield after the lavish £100m-plus spending of the brief Mark II Kenny Dalglish era.
After an utterly abject display in defeat, Rodgers was left with the whiff of a manager who had been let down, short of players and even refusing to rule out what would be the desperation measure of Michael Owen's return to Liverpool.
The start of Brendan Rodgers's reign as Liverpool manager has not gone according to plan. Photo: Getty
If Rodgers was not allowed to spend FSG's money on a player of a certain age who scored 23 goals for Fulham last season, what logical explanation could be given for bringing Owen back to Anfield? It is surely the longest of shots.
Rodgers insisted FSG has not misled him but two questions and two one-word answers were all that were required to confirm something had gone badly wrong at Anfield in the two days leading up to the closure of the transfer window.
Would Rodgers have let Carroll go if he was not going to able to bring in a new signing? Answer: "No." Was he confident of a new signing? Answer: "Very."
So if Rodgers was not misled, there was at best a serious breakdown in communication that led to the manager expecting something vastly different from what he got. Namely a squad that he unwittingly weakened by allowing Carroll to leave in the mistaken belief reinforcements would arrive.
The fact that Rodgers was then talking about the possibility of Carroll returning to Liverpool in January almost before he has unpacked his suitcase in London underscores how flawed those final hours were and how frustrated manager and supporters have been left.
Rodgers will hold talks with FSG because, as he put it: "There are just one or two operational things we need to iron out."
This was presumably code for a conversation that will end with Rodgers receiving firm assurances that there will be no repeat of Friday's events, events that left him fielding questions about possible early tensions between manager and board.
It is ludicrous to talk about Rodgers being in difficulties, especially as it appears he is operating under the strictest of financial constraints in reaction to the largesse extended to Dalglish. Rodgers has arrived and reacted in the manner of a new home owner flogging off unwanted items left behind in the loft by the previous incumbent.
Carroll and Charlie Adam have gone, Jordan Henderson was offered to Fulham in a proposed Dempsey deal while 17-year-old Raheem Sterling is being preferred to Stewart Downing.
This has, however, been a far cry from what Rodgers had hoped for when this bright young manager left Swansea City for the biggest challenge of his career.
There was widespread sympathy for Rodgers from experienced Anfield observers and FSG's reluctance to stump up for a player their new manager clearly wanted - and hardly one from the top end of the market - does not square with Liverpool chairman Tom Werner's recent claim that he wants the club to compete with Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The first serious murmurings of discontent about FSG are being heard among Liverpool's support but the owners' answer may just be that they lavished money on transfers last summer, failed to see their investment rewarded and now the party is over. Reality has set in.
It all made for an uncomfortable, unsettling atmosphere around Anfield after what has been a less than sparkling start to the season.
So the last thing Rodgers needed was the arrival of Arsenal to lay bare the frailties of Liverpool's squad on and off the pitch with an impressive demonstration of why there should be real optimism for manager Arsene Wenger despite the sale of Robin van Persie and Alex Song.
Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla scored their first goals for the club in a graphic illustration of why Wenger believes they can lead Arsenal into the light after the gloom surrounding Van Persie's departure. The German's finish was efficiency personified while Cazorla looks a steal at £15m.
The real bonus for Wenger, as well as Mikel Arteta's imperious display, was the magnificent performance of the powerhouse Abou Diaby. Formidable in all parts of the pitch, he made a nonsense of the fact this was his first full 90 minutes in more than 12 months.
And to round off an excellent day, there was a third successive clean sheet in the Premier League in this first win, with the word coming out of the Arsenal camp that much of this is down to the work of Wenger's new right hand man Steve Bould.
As the Arsenal fans went through a selection of taunts aimed at Liverpool, Anfield emptied at an alarming rate and the lack of any reaction at the final whistle was an accurate measure of their team's response to the superiority of their opponents.
Liverpool are attempting to implement Rodgers's passing philosophy but there is no threat. On countless occasions Liverpool approached the penalty area without anyone actually being in the box. It was a blessed relief to The Kop when substitute Jonjo Shelvey at least tried a few shots.
Rodgers has also been presented with an unexpected dilemma. Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina produced the latest in a catalogue of errors that have dotted his recent career when Cazorla's powerful shot went through him and in at the near post.
Once exemplary, the Spaniard is now an obvious weak link in Liverpool's team. He has been poor for some time now, but appears immune from being punished with the loss of his place because of a lack of credible competition.
Even Steven Gerrard caught the disease with an uncharacteristically poor performance and a concession of possession that led to Arsenal's first goal.
So Rodgers will be left to his talks with FSG this week. Plenty would pay for the privilege of being a fly-on-the-wall for those conversations.