Studs or duds?

Brendan Rodgers must wake up to the sound of Cher singing "I Got You Babe" every morning.

The alarm goes off, he relives the same day and makes the same decisions until he either gets off with Andie MacDowell, or gets the sack.

The Liverpool manager is replaying scenes from Groundhog Day, a movie about a stubborn man replaying scenes from Groundhog Day.

Deja vu must be an every day experience at Anfield.

The holiday tans are yet to fade as returning Reds shake off the post-season rustiness and Rodgers is already running around like a mad auntie on a free trolley dash at NTUC FairPrice.

It's not so much a two-for-one special as it is a six-for-50 million spree.

Like a compulsive spender snapping up chocolate bars at the counter, he's at it again, waving the chequebook around and relying on his Bostonian sugar daddies to settle the bill.

At an exorbitant 32.5 million pounds ($68m), Christian Benteke is expected to join new purchases Roberto Firmino, James Milner, Danny Ings, Joe Gomez, Adam Bogdan and Nathaniel Clyne at the Melwood Training Ground to compare pay packages.

Once again, Rodgers is playing with a transfer market pinata, thrashing around like a giddy schoolboy in the hope that he hits the sweet spot and goodies spill out into the dressing room.

But he could also end up pinning a donkey or two instead.

Either way, he certainly isn't getting value for money.

Apart from Benteke's expensive buy-out clause, Rodgers also forked out a reported £29m for Roberto Firmino. It's an eye-watering sum that exceeds the amount Arsenal paid for Alexis Sanchez when add-ons are included.

But Rodgers was always going to get his pants pulled down over the price. Speed and greed are his only options. He spends quickly and heavily, or he doesn't spend at all.

Slow and steady doesn't win such a handicapped race. Stuck with a transitional squad and no Champions League football, Rodgers must recklessly dangle more carrots than ever at potential targets.

Even Clyne reportedly wanted Champions League football with Manchester United and joined Liverpool only when interest cooled off at Old Trafford.

There's also Rodgers' obsession with avoiding late panic buys. Call it the Mario Balotelli syndrome. He knows he wouldn't survive a second season of wasting money on substandard talent at the last minute.

His eagerness to sign early is obvious, but also reeks of desperation to others. It's a sellers market where Liverpool are concerned, as Hoffenheim discovered, 29 million times over, when they sold Firmino.

Any buzz surrounding the Brazilian might have given way to the faint hum of alarm bells after his inept showing in the Copa America quarter-finals. He was substituted against Paraguay to spare him further insult.

The greatest players endure off days, but Firmino isn't a conventional goal-scorer to begin with.

As a creative forward, he averages a goal every three games, a decent return, but perhaps not enough to mount a charge for the top four.

That burden will probably fall on Benteke's broad shoulders, alongside Daniel Sturridge, with promising back-up from Danny Ings. But the final price tag of the three new faces may tiptoe towards £70m, which is hardly wily wheeler-dealing.

Liverpool anticipate getting most of their money back on Raheem Sterling's impending sale, which evokes memories of the Fernando Torres-Andy Carroll affair.

On the one hand, the Reds turned a profit. On the other, they paid out £35m for a non-goal-scoring striker.

Echoes of Groundhog Day drift through Anfield once more.

Of the six signings so far, Clyne appears the likeliest candidate for success, even if Rodgers' record in poaching former Saints is checkered at best.

Clyne fills an obvious slot at right back, a rare round peg in a round hole.

The same cannot be said of James Milner as the midfielder seldom found the right hole for either club or country. He still hasn't replicated the form from Aston Villa, largely because he hasn't been trusted with the same role at either Manchester City or England.

He covets his new skipper's position in the heart of midfield. But Jordan Henderson was there first.

Rodgers' other signings are understudies and promising potential, so Firmino, Milner, Clyne and Benteke, if he arrives, must take on the responsibility of redeeming Rodgers.

They are committed performers, but not recognised as world-beaters. Once again, Rodgers has staked his career on expensive gambles.

Only now, he isn't re-enacting Groundhog Day. If he fails, there will be an entirely different outcome.

Pool's new signings

Roberto Firmino
Age: 23
Nationality: Brazilian
Position: Midfielder
Transfer fee: 29m pounds (from Hoffenheim)

James Milner
Age: 29
Nationality: English
Position: Midfielder
Transfer fee: Free (from Man City)

Adam Bogdan
Age: 27
Nationality: Hungarian
Position: Goalkeeper
Transfer fee: Free (from Bolton)

Joe Gomez
Age: 18
Nationality: English
Position: Defender
Transfer fee: 3.5m pounds (from Charlton)

Danny Ings
Age: 23
Nationality: English
Position: Striker
Transfer fee: Undisclosed (from Burnley)

Nathaniel Clyne
Age: 24
Nationality: English
Position: Defender
Transfer fee: 12.5m pounds (from Southampton)

Christian Benteke
Age: 24
Nationality: Belgian
Position: Striker
Club: Aston Villa

This article was first published on July 07, 2015.
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