EVER since the World Cup schedule  was announced, fans have been relishing the match between Côte d'Ivoire and  Portugal for its showdown between two  of the world's greatest footballers,  Cristiano Ronaldo and Didier Drogba (L) (PICTURE: REUTERS)
Didier Drogba. Picture: REUTERS

LIVERPOOL manager Brendan Rodgers admits he will be forced to look into signing free agent forwards Michael Owen and Didier Drogba after his club’s worst league start for 50 years.

Having allowed Andy Carroll to join West Ham on loan, Rodgers expected the club’s hierarchy to complete a move for Fulham forward Clint Dempsey, who had made no secret of his desire to move to Anfield.

However, Liverpool reportedly offered a derisory £3m for US international Dempsey, who subsequently joined Tottenham for twice that, leaving Rodgers perilously short of attacking options for the foreseeable future.

After Liverpool’s 2-0 home defeat to Arsenal on Sunday capped a dispiriting week for Rodgers, the former Swansea boss revealed that he had already had frank conversations with his club’s American owners about the manner in which they would conduct transfer business in future.

"I wouldn’t have let Andy Carroll go if I had known I had no replacement," Rodgers said. "How confident was I that we would get a replacement? Very. We all know we needed reinforcements, but the window has shut and we have to concentrate on the players we have here.

"I’m not here to cry, I’m very proud to manage this club and I’ll do everything I can to turn it around and make it a success here. There is no point me sitting here crying about it, wishing we had or wishing we hadn’t (signed players). We’ve got a good group and I want to help them as much as we can.

"There is no doubt that finances here had to be changed, that was the reality when I came in. It’s something we can’t do anything about. We have lost nine players and brought in three. From a business side, the club has done well. What I need to do well for the future now is look after the football business, make sure we help the players that are here."

With Carroll’s wages reported £90,000 a week, his departure was a clear cost-cutting exercise by the club’s American owners.

Yet former manager Kenny Dalglish was handed about £120m to invest in a group of seven largely unimpressive signings, while Rodgers had been given far less to spend. "It’s a learning process for the owners as well," said Rodgers.

"They’ve come in here and invested way over £100m and made a big commitment to have me here for the longer term. I’ve spoken to the people in America and aired out my thoughts. We will reflect on it again next week and have conversations about the way forward."

When pushed, Rodgers admitted players such as former Liverpool star Owen, now a free agent, or former Chelsea striker Drogba, currently in dispute with his Chinese club, could come into consideration.

"Any player I believe can improve the squad I will look at," he said. "We have only got a very small group. We had 19 players training yesterday, so I probably need to ask questions on that."

Meanwhile, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had no such concerns after his team’s excellent performance delivered their first goals and first win of the season.

Arsenal were victorious thanks to well-taken goals from new signings Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla, and Wenger could not conceal his satisfaction at the manner of the victory.

"Everybody understood Santi Cazorla would not take six months to settle," he said. "And Podolski is deadly when he has a chance; we see that in training as well."

Wenger was especially impressed with French midfielder Abou Diaby, who had not started a game for a year yet gave a dominant performance on his return.

"He is massive for us," said the manager. "He is a tremendous football player.

"I was worried when he was injured last season, but we stood by him because not only is he a fantastic player but he’s a fantastic guy as well."

Sapa-AFP