Liverpool need to buy players
(Raheem Sterling 23, Daniel Sturridge 79)
(Nathaniel Clyne 56)
Brendan Rodgers still needs to go shopping.
The Liverpool manager claims he's content with the purchases in his trolley, but last night's patchy performance suggests the chequebook must come out again before the checkout closes.
Luck and Simon Mignolet's stunning reflexes intervened on enough occasions to allow Liverpool to hang on to a 2-1 win victory against a transitional Southampton side, but Reds fans can do their sums easily enough.
The cost of Rodgers' latest spending spree is £100 million ($200.8m). Southampton have sold players with a combined value of £95 million.
The value of Luis Suarez to Liverpool?
The Uruguayan's loss was keenly felt last night. Rodgers has spent anything but peanuts in the transfer window, but his acquisitions might make a monkey of him.
They earned him victory against the Saints - just - but other opponents will not be so obliging.
For long periods of the game, particularly in the second half, the Reds' tepid toiling illustrated weaknesses that were absent from their game last season. They seemed lethargic, predictable and, at times, tedious.
Opening games do not define seasons, but they do lay down markers and Rodgers' jittery men barely managed to plant a flag in the Anfield breeze.
Liverpool's manager will claim otherwise, but the second-half silence inside the stadium screamed loudest.
Rodgers' record in the transfer market is a pock-marked one at best, with a few untidy scars adding blemishes to his coaching complexion.
On the plus side, Dejan Lovren is obviously the centre back Liverpool have been waiting for, forming a tidy, confident performance with Martin Skrtel.
But the club might be guilty of wishful thinking in trying to make a man of Javi Manquillo, who is still a boy in a burly body. He's just 20 and although age is not necessarily an accurate yardstick for Premier League potential, first-team experience often is.
He managed just seven appearances with Atletico Madrid before making his loan move to Merseyside and his inexperience was clearly targeted by Saints manager Ronald Koeman.
Dusan Tadic enjoyed plenty of possession in the first half, as the Saints directed their play towards Manquillo and the fullback looked uncomfortable. He improved as the game progressed - and found greater confidence going forward - but Jordan Henderson had to track back to assist.
Indeed it was Henderson's interception on Liverpool's right that led to his early contender for pass of the season, slicing open Southampton's centre backs with the merciless force of a parang to slip in Raheem Sterling for Liverpool's opening goal.
But the Saints' commendable refusal to yield to superior opposition underlined the imbalance in the Reds' line-up.
If anything, Southampton's superb equaliser had cynical Saints fans picturing the poacher in the Liverpool dugout returning to steal another soul from St Mary's.
Nathaniel Clyne must have hypnotised Rodgers in the way an expensive fur coat on a shop mannequin must pull in the Kardashians with their credit cards.
The right back's neat one-two with Tadic and his imperious finish practically left Clyne wearing a "sign me" sign; the obvious missing link in Liverpool's back four.
Even if Rodgers doesn't exploit Southampton's exodus any further, he has to look elsewhere.
Fortunately, Liverpool still boast the striker destined to shine on after Suarez.
Last season, Daniel Sturridge's goals won Liverpool 20 points in the Premier League; more than any other player for their side. He often performed better without Suarez. He's going to have to get used to it.
His late tap-in earned Liverpool a scarcely deserved winner.
Rodgers will happily take the three points and concern himself with the lacklustre performance in training.
But any title talk should be put on hold. He needs to return to his shopping list first.
- LIVERPOOL: Simon Mignolet, Glen Johnson, Dejan Lovren, Javi Manquillo, Martin Skrtel, Steven Gerrard, Philippe Coutinho (Rickie Lambert 76), Jordan Henderson, Lucas Leiva (Joe Allen 63), Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge.
- SOUTHAMPTON: Fraser Forster, Nathaniel Clyne, Maya Yoshida, Jose Fonte, Ryan Bertrand, Morgan Schneiderlin, Steven Davis (Lloyd Isgrove 82), Victor Wanyama, Dusan Tadic (Shane Long 74), James Ward-Prowse, Graziano Pelle.