Liverpool v Manchester City: Flat City gives Roberto Mancini ammunition in battle to buy players
Roberto Mancini's tongue was rattling loudly around in his cheek when he announced he wanted between 10 and 15 new players before Friday's transfer deadline - but he was happy to make his point all the same.
Mancini makes no secret of the fact he would have liked more action in the transfer market this summer and Manchester City's Premier League champions added weight to his case with a largely flat performance in the 2-2 draw at Liverpool.
The Italian manager dismissed claims he could walk away from City if he fails to get the backing he demands in the market, but his words and actions made it clear he expects a big name arrival in the next few days.
Swansea's Scott Sinclair will arrive in a £6.2m deal in short order but he is not a title game-changer and City's reliance on two crass defensive errors from an otherwise impressive Liverpool might just have played into Mancini's hands as he seeks reinforcements of the quality of Roma's Daniele de Rossi, Athletic Bilbao's Javi Martinez and Stevan Jovetic of Fiorentina.
Brendan Rodgers and Roberto Mancini watch their respective teams. Photo: Getty
Of course, there may well be the sound of muffled laughter around the Premier League - and a raised eyebrow or two in the City boardroom - when a manager as lavishly supported as Mancini pleads for more. He may well, however, hold true to the old adage that while winning the title is one thing retaining it and maintaining success is another, arguably more difficult, matter.
Mancini has watched Eden Hazard add an instant extra dimension to Chelsea for £32m and Robin van Persie arrive at Manchester United in a £24m deal. He wants a piece of that action and he wants it by Friday.
City have a wonderful squad but their lacklustre showing at Liverpool, not helped by Mancini's puzzling and somewhat defensive three-man central defensive system, suggests they would benefit from another marquee arrival, with Mario Balotelli at his wasteful worst and Edin Dzeko hardly delivering fireworks when he came on.
The next few days are unlikely to totally define City's attempt to retain the title - but Mancini clearly feels they could have a significant effect on the outcome.
So Mancini made his point. And Liverpool counterpart Brendan Rodgers made his equally forcibly on a day when the unease surrounding their opening day defeat at West Bromwich Albion disappeared, at least temporarily.
The fascination with Rodgers's creditable insistence on a passing style is understandable, although we must be careful not to insult his predecessor Kenny Dalglish, who also wanted his Liverpool team to play in a similar fashion.
Rodgers did not invent the passing game or bring it as a new gift to Anfield but it is clear the philosophy runs through his veins and there were plenty of vital signs that Liverpool's players were responding to his demands, both tactically and technically.
Joe Allen showed why Rodgers was so keen to be reunited with the youngster he had at Swansea City with a performance of tempo and passing assurance that had his manager draping some fairly lavish verbal bouquets around his neck.
It is fair to say Rodgers was impressed as he said: "I think the Liverpool supporters will enjoy watching this kid play football. He is 5ft 6ins but in terms of being a footballer he is 7ft 6ins.
"He's absolutely immense. We paid £15m for him and I said that very quickly that price would double and people probably laughed at me."
Apart from a performance that saw some of the trademarks of the Rodgers template, City under pressure high up the pitch, Liverpool playing at a high tempo and with a determination to retain possession, the manager himself showed commendable courage of his convictions.
Rodgers could be forgiven for going easy on the big selection decisions so early in his time at Anfield. Not a bit of it as 17-year-old Raheem Sterling was given his debut and responded with a performance of rare promise and vibrancy, although he tired as the game went on and suffered the odd moment of naivety inevitable in one so young.
No-one who witnessed Stewart Downing's performance - or complete absence of one - at The Hawthorns could argue with Rodgers's logic. It is an accurate indicator of the £20m signing's desperate lack of impact that it appeared such a simple decision to relegate him to the bench in favour of a rookie, albeit a highly talented one.
Rodgers also preferred Sebastian Coates to Jamie Carragher with Daniel Agger suspended, a sign that a great Liverpool servant and influential figure on and off the field is now slipping further down the pecking order.
The reward for Rodgers should have been victory, only for Liverpool to carelessly cast aside their rightful prize with shoddy defending that City, while out of sorts, were still good enough to capitalise on.
Martin Skrtel topped and tailed Liverpool's performance by putting them ahead with a violent header only to then toss away the win with a dreadful late backpass, played blind, that offered up an open invitation for Carlos Tevez to score.
In between Yaya Toure took advantage of more defensive tomfoolery mainly involving goalkeeper Pepe Reina and Martin Kelly to restore parity for City before Luis Suarez's expertly taken free-kick gave Liverpool hope of the victory that was squandered by Skrtel's error.
Indeed, Skrtel's horror moment posed one of the questions yet to be answered about Rodgers' style. He dismissed it, rather poetically, as "part of the journey" and defended Skrtel by suggesting the "easy thing" would have been to smash the ball up the pitch.
Indeed it would have been. It might also have preserved the three points.
As Liverpool's supporters trooped away from Anfield cursing the failure to secure a deserved victory, they may just have wished Skrtel had done the easy thing rather than stick to his manager's principles. It is early days, however, with players and manager still getting accustomed to each other and Rodgers was steadfast in support of his player.
Despite that disappointment, Liverpool and Rodgers gave Anfield plenty to be encouraged by.
For Mancini, it would seem true encouragement will only come in the shape of some big-spending by Manchester City's owners in the next five days.