After spending most of the past month telling anyone who would listen that Liverpool would look to strengthen their options in attack come January, manager Brendan Rodgers changed tack following Sunday's disappointing draw against Swansea. His initially bullish suggestions that Liverpool would use the mid-season window to improve and close the gap with those ahead of them in the table had already at least in part given way to talk of patience and long-term building, but now the message seems to have morphed entirely into the fans needing to show further patience.
"It will evolve," Rodgers said of his current squad. "The guys are working very well, they have been fantastic, but we all know you need to get in your own types of players before you can say it is your own side. When I came to Swansea in my first season there were 12 players that were used and six moved on. In the second year seven came in over the course of the season and there were nine who went the other way. Until you get that turnover of players you can only look at it then as your team.
"But we will work with the players we have," he added, looking to cool hopes of a big January signing or two—hopes that had largely been fuelled by his talk of improving the squad over the past month. "I am not so sure it will be in January to be honest. This year the club wanted to balance the books and see where it was at. There was a big investment in the club and obviously a lot of players went out in the summer and a few came in.
"We will look to do some business in January to help and support the players here, but that is where we are at as a football club and it is something the owners trust me to grow over time. Eventually we will get there."
Of course, taking the sales of Fernando Torres and Ryan Babel into account makes any grand investment made by Fenway Sports Group prior to Rodgers' arrival look something rather short of "a big investment"—at least compared to what is typically seen from any side challenging for the top four in England. Add in the wage savings achieved through replacing more expensive veterans with younger players on cheaper contracts and it appears increasingly as though all the new owners have done since arriving is move the existing money around when it comes to Liverpool's playing staff.
An argument could easily be made that in many cases Liverpool has paid far too much for far too little when it comes to the players the club has had on the books in recent seasons—both under FSG and preceding them—but letting an expensive veteran on big wages leave on the cheap and then replacing him with a player who comes at a higher initial cost but with lower wages isn't making further investment, it's just shifting money the club is already committed to spending from one column to another.
Done well it could mean a more efficient use of funds and an improvement on the pitch because of that, but it hardly suggests an ownership group either willing or able to help Liverpool push on to the next level. And so far, of course, it would be hard to argue that Liverpool's monetary shell game has been played especially well: Liverpool have wasted an awful lot of money to date under FSG, but it's almost all been money either generated through player sales or that was already earmarked for wages.
Along with a new round of rumours linking the club to a January loan move for Darren Bent like it was 2010 all over again with Roy Hodgson and Christian Purslow in charge, it feels almost as though Liverpool have moved through their own predictable stages of the transfer window already—and it's still a month before the window opens. Hope and expectation built on the promise of investment and a new dawn starts things off before being undercut by calls for patience and a growing list of mid-table calibre targets before in the end even that gives way to disappointed indifference.
It's not quite yet December and January, it seems, is already over—and in quite entirely predictable fashion, too. The summer, though, is the time for real deals. The summer is where a club can find value; when there's time to work. Just wait for next window, then—just wait for next season.