Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers claims the club tried to sign players of star quality in the summer and that their failure to do so “wasn’t through want of trying”.
Rodgers denies there is a growing imbalance between what his club can achieve in the transfer window compared to Manchester United.
However, he accepts their arch-rivals were far more successful in securing big-name signings in the summer than he was with his own targets.
United brought in Real Madrid winger Angel Di Maria for close to £60million, striker Radamel Falcao on loan on reported wages of £265,000-a-week with a £43.5million option to buy at the end of the season, midfielder Ander Herrera (£29million) and left-back Luke Shaw (£27million) and supplemented them with Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind at a combined £30million.
Rodgers targeted Alexis Sanchez as his big-money man to replace the departed Luis Suarez but lost out to Arsenal and ultimately spent £120million on eight acquisitions to strengthen his squad.
But while United’s key players have started to kick into gear, putting together a five-match winning run, none of Liverpool’s summer arrivals have come close to making such an impact.
Asked whether United’s transfer capabilities were now considerably outstripping Liverpool’s Rodgers replied: “Not really, no.
“For us at Liverpool we don’t compare to anyone, we look to ourselves and all you can do is make sure you remain solid inside of your work.
“There will always be things written on the outside and spoken about by people paid and unpaid to be critics but you can’t really affect that.
“They (United) have some outstanding players. They had a good squad before that but they have brought in some very good players and got a very experienced manager leading them.
“But my focus is only on the players we were able to get and work with them.”
Questioned about whether, in hindsight, it would have been better to add some top quality rather than just padding out the squad with potential stars of the future Rodgers added: “That is what the club tried to do.
“It wasn’t for the want of trying that the club looked to do that but we end up with the squad we have and we will improve those players with the staff like we have done over the last couple of years.
“We believe there is talent which has come into here that will grow over the next number of years to show they are top-class talents. Consequently the team will improve.”
Rodgers, who has spoken to owners Fenway Sports Group about “a couple of things” associated with potential January transfers, will get a chance to assess one model over the other on Sunday when he takes his side to Old Trafford for a match in which defeat would see them slip 10 points behind the current third-place team.
Having gone out of the Champions League in midweek after failing to beat Basle the Reds boss has found himself under more scrutiny but he insists it is of little consequence for him.
“All you can do is affect what is happening inside your club and on the training ground and work even harder to turn it around and if we can do that then of course the attitude changes,” he said.
“The only way you can do that is by winning games and performing well and that is our attitude to move forward for the rest of the season.”
That Liverpool did indeed attempt to sign “star” players, but ultimately failed, surely leaves the question of why that was the case, and should the recruitment of players therefore be reviewed?