Jamie Vardy shows Liverpool what they needed to buy in January
Once something is written it can never be erased if you have second thoughts. Liverpool's work in the January transfer window was a 1/10 before losing 2-0 to Leicester City but their utterly feeble attempts to score a goal on Tuesday means that really needs to be adjusted to a big, fat zero.
The issues in dealing with Shakhtar Donetsk over a €32 million deal for Alex Teixeira may have been problematic, and Liverpool may ultimately be relieved not to sign another expensive under-achiever, but to not buy a striker of any kind at all borders on the reckless.
Any hope of the top four has gone; Liverpool sit 11 points behind Arsenal in fourth spot, with the gap in goal difference virtually making that 12. It's academic what the gap is now, because Liverpool lack the personnel and consistency to close it anyway. The difference that could have been made to the Reds' season with a striker half as prolific as Leicester's Jamie Vardy is huge.
The ebullience of Jurgen Klopp is no longer keeping some supporters enthralled. In fact, on the evidence of the last few days there is now something of the "company man" about him which is slightly unsettling.
Klopp took all of the credit/blame for passing on Teixeira, asking supporters to trust him on this. He then announced, after weeks of claiming otherwise, that Daniel Sturridge was ready to return to full-time training. A day after the Reds had dawdled, dallied and ultimately bought no strikers... That's a little coincidental, isn't it?
The reputation of Brendan Rodgers, Klopp's predecessor, plummeted as he stood in the firing line for players he subsequently claimed were not his choices at all. Klopp has had huge support from the fans because he is someone who will tell the truth and be his own man. But this has not been a good week for him, particularly when he seemed to blame Liverpool's workload for the Leicester defeat.
Ordinarily he's been steadfast in the belief that his men just had to get on with it, so to focus on tiredness now, just after Liverpool bought nobody in the winter window, is intriguing enough to give rumour-mongers free rein.
Fans may think all the club's eggs have been placed in one basket; that, by reaching the Capital One Cup final, they believe they've taken an erratic season as far than any reasonable person could expect. Bu there is little kudos to be gained by just reaching the League Cup final -- there isn't all that much more in winning it, to be honest. It also seems to have been conveniently forgotten that Liverpool face the daunting task of beating Manchester City in that final.
In the FA Cup the Reds have to beat West Ham on their own ground, having not beaten them in three previous attempts this season, so that just leaves the Europa League. Though it's tempting to claim FC Augsburg pose little threat in the next round, in Liverpool's current state they can't rightfully say that about anybody.
If the Reds' season is to collapse in February, there will be a lot of criticism for the owners about the refusal to provide even short-term strengthening in January. The defeat to Leicester in the first game after that decision was taken has put people in an even worse humour. There's an obvious reason Roberto Firmino is called "a false No. 9" -- that's because he isn't a centre forward. He's done his best, has even scored a few goals recently against Arsenal and Norwich, but Liverpool's weakness in this department is so obvious supporters are perplexed -- even angry -- that nothing was done to correct it.
And of course the announcement of next season's ticket prices at Anfield, most of which have been increased, ensured that the timing could not have been worse.
This is a pursuit of money which isn't even that relevant any more. As fans see cash wasted on poor players (while TV deals grow ever larger), they have a right to question whether their loyalty should be milked quite so brazenly to watch a clearly sub-standard team.
There will be 15,000 extra seats at Anfield when the new Main Stand is up and running. In the short-term there won't be a problem filling them, but after four months of limping through the rest of this bewildering season the squad will need major surgery in the summer to defuse the current disenchantment.
Klopp is going to need a lot of time to put this right, but this really wasn't the time to start testing the supporters' patience and loyalty. Even a couple of loan deals, to help Liverpool make these next few months a fairer fight and give the fans something to look forward to, would have provided some relief.
That Steven Caulker is the only difference to Liverpool's squad as it was on Dec. 31 is simply not acceptable.
Steven Kelly writes about Liverpool for ESPN FC and has a weekly Liverpool column for The Irish Examiner. Follow him on Twitter @SteKelly198586.