Luke Moore thinks that if manager Brendan Rodgers can land a handful of the players he's targeting and solve the Luis Suarez problem one way or another, Liverpool can have a big impact on the Premier League this season...
"If Carroll is a problem solved though, then one puzzle that remains frustratingly unfinished is Luis Suarez. Currently away on international duty with Uruguay, the controversial forward is arguably the biggest test of Rodgers’ managerial career to date."
Despite a now-regularly remarked upon propensity to resemble David Brent, 'omnipotent' overlord of Slough-based paper merchant Wernham Hogg, Brendan Rodgers has much to be cheerful about as he (probably) sits in his office at Anfield, Cuban-heeled feet resting on the desk with reckless abandon, plotting a course which will hopefully result in a return to the glory years of one of Europe's biggest clubs.
While it's tempting to roll out the stock 'Oh it's their year every year' response to Liverpool fans' apparently permanent delusions of grandeur about their club's status in football in 2013, there are genuine signs that finally, under the genial Northern Irishman, the Reds are not only rebuilding in the right way but also starting to adhere to a coherent strategy in the transfer market which could yield results at a time of great uncertainty among many of England's other top clubs.
Rodgers has quickly set about identifying and pursuing players he thinks best fit the style and philosophy of football he wants his side to play, as well as offloading the personnel he doesn't think can realistically be accommodated. The targeting of Iago Aspas, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Luis Alberto and Christian Atsu all make sense; technically sound, quick players who will be able to slot almost immediately into the short, sharp passing game the manager prefers, following the lead of Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge who have both already hit the ground running. It is not fanciful to suggest that at least two of those targets will make the move to Anfield and Liverpool will be much stronger as a result.
Meanwhile, Andy Carroll has been swiftly shown the exit door after a season away from the club on loan, and £15 million constitutes great business for a player who is at best the roughest of rubies in the dust and at worst the biggest problem he inherited when taking the reins at the club.
If Carroll is a problem solved though, then one puzzle that remains frustratingly unfinished is Luis Suarez. Currently away on international duty with Uruguay, the controversial forward is arguably the biggest test of Rodgers' managerial career to date. The way Liverpool have handled Suarez and his many issues thus far has been less than stellar and now he wants away it is down to his manager to either cut him loose or convince him to buy into the project and knuckle down. The latter of those two options looks increasingly unlikely, and so the decision to hand him a painting of a Spitfire and concentrate on bringing new players in has to be the preferred option.
While that may sound severe and worrying to Liverpool fans, the Reds actually played some of their best football of the year without Suarez towards the end of last season, managing to avoid defeat in their final eight games. But not only that, it was almost like a weight had been lifted from a number of the other players' shoulders and they felt truly free to express themselves in the absence of their apparent go-to man.
Those final eight games should be a comfort that Liverpool fans hold close to their breast in their most fearful moments, should the enigmatic Suarez eventually decide to up sticks.
With the departure of managers happening at an unprecedented rate at the top of the Premier League this summer, Rodgers is already bedded in and has a clear vision of what he wants to achieve. The fans may continually be mocked for their occasionally unrealistic expectations, but a Champions League spot this season is in no way fantastical.
And Liverpool's regional manager knows that he can talk about 'progress', 'development' and 'growth jigsaws' all he likes, but Champions League football? That's the real quiz.