THE thing about clichés is, as hackneyed as they are, there is usually more than an element of truth to their application.
And that is most certainly the case regarding Steven Gerrard’s proclamation at the weekend that the form of Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson and Jose Enrique over the past few months has made them “like new signings”.
Good timing. With the transfer deadline fast approaching at the end of the month, Brendan Rodgers remains keen on further bolstering a squad the manager has consistently stated lacks the strength in depth to compete on all fronts.
The statistics indicate as much. In the 11 Premier League games played between the opening and closing Europa League group games, Liverpool won only four. In their subsequent eight top-flight outings, they have won five.
Daniel Sturridge’s goal-laden arrival has undoubtedly helped – the £12million man will aim to score in his first four games in the FA Cup at Oldham Athletic this weekend – but Liverpool had already shown signs of spluttering back into life.
Key to that has been the form of Downing, Henderson and Enrique, a trio whose combined fees of more than £40million were highlighted as the folly of the Kenny Dalglish-Damien Comolli experiment. Andy Carroll and Charlie Adam had already been jettisoned; these would surely follow.
Downing himself admitted being told by Rodgers he could find another club this month. Henderson was offered to Fulham in the summer, while Enrique had fallen out of favour on the back of a drastic loss of form in the second half of last season.
Yet, step by step, so the triumvirate have enjoyed a renaissance. Downing, having finally broken his Premier League duck both in terms of goals and direct assists; Enrique, before injury, rediscovering his verve as a rampaging left-back; Henderson adding goals to his locker.
“The manager has certainly galvanised them,” says Gerrard. “They’re like new signings of late. Downing’s been on fire, Jordan’s come alive, so that’s exactly what we needed.
“Credit to the manager, his man-management is superb. He puts his arm round players, he talks to them, and he gives players opportunities.
“He’s brought youngsters into the squad, given them a go, in a difficult time. Usually managers, if things aren’t going well, you go for experienced players.”
Given the huge hit Liverpool would have expected to take on moving on the trio, Rodgers – working within much tighter financial constraints than his predecessor – could save a tidy sum, or at least increase their sell-on value, by coaxing more from them.
And former Liverpool midfielder Gary McAllister acknowledges the role played by the Northern Irishman.