Mails: How have Liverpool done under FSG?

Date published: Friday 16th October 2015 1:35

How well have Liverpool done under FSG’s ownership? Also, what separates great players from brilliant ones? And the Ultimate PFM candidates are scrutinised…

If you have anything to add on any subject, you know what to do – mail


John Obi Allen
I can only assume that Brendan RodMichael Tremarco, was taking the p*ss with his letter this morning ?

I played a fun game and swapped all mention of Joe Allen  for ‘John Obi Mikel’

Then did same with Ryan Mason, Fabian Delph, JonJo Shelvey and Jack Cork and it still made sense.

that Michael is his level – at best.  He is a decent player, but not really good enough for a Top 4 / title challenging team.
Neil, Surrey.


A critique of FSG’s Liverpool
Shaun, Aberdeen asks if anyone can shed any light on why Rodgers bombed Reina out of Liverpool so quickly, which has prompted me to finally send an email I’ve been too lazy to write for some time.

The short answer Shaun, is money. Reina was on a 6 figure weekly salary and FSG were keen to reduce a massive wage bill, replacing him with an up-and-coming low earner in Mignolet.

The long answer is, well, longer than I expected it to be – sorry. When FSG took over it was clear that their policy was sustainable spending. It’s no secret that their current wage structure is a low basic with large incentives based on appearances, performance and trophies. Equally, their transfer strategy is to identify young potential players, sign them for peanuts and sell them on after development for large fees.

This pattern was evident almost immediately – in FSG’s very first transfer window Kenny Dalglish moved on a high earner in Torres for big money, replacing him with two less established but highly promising youngsters – Suarez and Carroll, both on significantly lower wages.

In their first couple of years FSG changed the squad considerably – big earners like Meireles, Kuyt, Aquilani, Maxi Rodriguez, Bellamy and Joe Cole were replaced by a range of solid players in Adam, Downing, Henderson, Enrique and youngsters such as Borini, Allen and Assaidi, all players young enough to have sell-on value. For example Borini, a complete flop, lost Liverpool just £400k in transfer fees in three years. Loan player signings were frequent – Sahin, Moses, Cissoko, Manquillo.

The strategy of reducing the wage bill continued as the likes of Carragher, Agger, Reina, Suarez, Gerrard and Johnson all left to be replaced by lower-earners – you might recall there was talk last season of Johnson being offered a new, but much reduced contract.

Alongside this, the strategy of buying lots of young promising players an moving them on for a large profit has continued, with the two huge successes being Suarez (£52m profit) and Sterling (well over £40m profit before QPR’s cut was paid).

At present the rumour mills are awash with talk of Barca being in for Coutinho (signed for £8.5m) in the next window, whilst Ibe is rated to be as good as Sterling was at the same age, if not better. This summer the club bought Gomez (18), Clyne (24), Benteke (24), Ings (22) and Firmino (24) – again, all  young enough to have a high re-sale value.

In his three years as manager, Rodgers spent a total of £291m, bringing in just over £200m in sales. Dalglish before him spent £111m and brought in £79m. In 10 transfer windows since they took control of the club 5 years ago, the success of FSG’s transfer strategy means they have invested around £123m of their own cash, an average investment on their part of under £12.5m per window.
Within this timeframe they have slashed the wage bill, with the likes of Reina, Gerrard, Carragher, Torres, Kuyt, Maxi and Suarez all leaving to be replaced by much lower earners. I’d love to know the annual savings on the wage bill over this period, but it’s clear to see that once that saving is offset against the sub-£25m transfer kitty FSG have provided every year, they haven’t dug that deep into their own funds at all.

During the last 5 years, Liverpool’s income has increased to stratospheric levels both from the increased TV money and from club-record sponsorship and commercial deals (credit to FSG for those), but player expenditure at Anfield hasn’t benefitted from this boost in income. FSG have used the funds at their disposal to invest in the stadium redevelopments, estimated to cost in the region of £100m. This is expected to be ready by the start of the 2016/17 season and the club hope to earn additional £25m a season from the expansion, so should have paid for itself by the summer of 2020.

There have been rumours lately that FSG are preparing the club for sale, perhaps as a result of the relaxation of FFP regulations which was reportedly a key factor in the club’s appeal when they bought it – naturally I don’t know how true this is, but certainly having a squad of modest earners with high re-sale value, a high-profile and charismatic manager and a newly-increased stadium would make a debt-free (or low-debt), financially stable club with worldwide appeal an attractive financial proposition.

What does this all mean? Well, unless FSG really are set to sell in the next few years, it appears likely that there won’t be any significant change to the status quo in terms of player expenditure until at least the summer of 2017, once the additional funds from the expansion start to come through, and that’s assuming that there are no debt repayments. It’s evident that FSG are happy to invest heavily in the club, but that the club needs to generate its own funds – FSG certainly won’t be raiding their own piggy-bank to compete with the likes of Man City and Chelsea. Given the relaxing of FFP rules, this is a concern.

So, any hopes of Klopp having a massive transfer warchest to play with seem unlikely without sales of key players (e.g. Coutinho?). Given the strong links between a club’s wage bill and final Premiership position this is something of a concern for the club’s supporters, though the fact that they took the decision to remove a manager who had delivered such strong results from a fiscal point of view on the basis of lack of performance on the pitch, is encouraging.

However, it seems to me that, unless Klopp can get the club punching above their financial level, the likelihood is that Liverpool will be flirting with the Champions League places for a few seasons yet.
Jonny (carefully avoided the term ‘net spend’, deliberately used ‘warchest’) Dance


Squad goals
Bit of a weird article on the Liverpool squad.

Note that the injured constitute some of our best or most inform players. Henderson, Benteke, Coutinho, Gomez, Ings constitute five of our best players at the moment (I’m aware that our best isn’t particularly good currently). In Firmino we have some who is certainly exciting and you’d expect to kick on under Klopp, or at least in a normal position, and Flanagan was really good before his huge absence. Lovren is Lovren. Though on a sidenote, he was a good player before Rodgers got hold of him so I’m holding my last hope that Klopp can do something for him.

My point is, with regards to this not being a top-4 challenging squad, you could take five of the best players out of Arsenal or Utd, plus two or three ‘good bets’, and they’d have a similar look about the squad. Purely going from Whoscored for player ratings, what are Utd without Martial, Shaw, Smalling, Mata, Blind, Darmian, De Gea and Schweini? Or Arsenal without Cazorla, Sanchez, Ozil, Coquelin, Koscielny and Cech?
Theo, Liverpool


Ask 10 simple questions…
Firstly, hallelujah its back. The RWC has done has been a great substitute but my word, I missed football. Premier league football-less weekends are like being told you can’t get laid after weeks of constant romping. Well boys, thankfully it’s time to get those trousers off again – we are back in business!

I just read Senor Storey’s Big Weekend and thought I’d take a stab at answering those delicious Klopp questions:
1. Benteke. He’s the second coming of Drogba, the Anti-Drog. But Sturridge this weekend due to injury

2. Do you mean drift wide (left) from a central position? Yes for me.

3. No, unfortunately.

4. No, one and a CM allowed to push on.

5. RM – he won’t be happy after Brendan’s promises but it’s for the best

6. I’d have them balancing on the opposition corner flags, provided they were on-side

7. For now DM but really he’s got to be challenging Henderson for that CM role

8. I just can’t see it. Right now he’s not defensive enough for DM and not good enough for CM. The player to have a renaissance will be Lovren!

9. LF with license to drift in as Coutinho drifts out. That said I’d love to see him get a run in the central role.

10. Welcome to the club. Pint?

My starting eleven would be the following: GK – Mignolet, RB – Clyne,  LB – Moreno, CB – Lovren (R), CB – Sakho (L), DM – Can, CM – Henderson, RM – Milner, AM – Coutinho, LF – Firmino, ST – Benteke. I’m actually excited about watching my team again – yay!
Dazza, Dublin (Shout out to Ings and Gomez, what an absolute disaster…)


ACL fears
With Liverpool suffering the fate of two promising players getting terrible injuries whilst on international break. Plus John Flanagan still recovering. Can anyone think of players that have returned to full fitness and skill level after having an ACL injury??

Every high profile player I can recall has either eventually left said club where they got injured or retired with minimal appearances.

Of cause it helps these two have youth on their side but these injuries are v serious. Owen falcao and I think shevchenko were never the same player after the ACL injuries they received. Whether it’s mental, physical or both, I don’t know. But it sure halts a lot of players careers

The only player I can recall with a knee injury and has carried on and moved forward is Arturo Vidal. But unsure if his was ACL injury.

Please help, these guys had great potential,
Will (Klopp can have my babies) F


What separates great from brilliant?
Bit after the event, but re-reading the Bergkamp piece and it made me realise what separates the likes of Dennis from the likes of Le Tiss, the likes of Ronaldo from the likes of Rooney. And I don’t think it’s pure talent.

In a word, professionalism. Xavi, Iniesta, Pirlo, Messi, Scholes, Giggs, Ronaldo, Bale, Zidane, Figo, Bergkamp to name just a handful… these guys showed exquisite professionalism not just in the way they trained but also the way they looked after themselves. They were students and then masters of the game, driven to succeed and develop to become the best they could be, even though they already had it easy thanks to their ability.

Compare and contrast with Wilshere, Rooney, Joe Cole and of course Gazza. Some of our brightest ever talents who have all shown that brilliance in flashes and clearly found the game easy, but all arguably wasting it compared to what they might have achieved. Harsh on Rooney who is worthy of his acclaim, and Wilshere who is still young. But both could and should have done more, and probably would have if they weren’t on the tiles in the early days with a fag in hand.

It’s not just an English disease, mind. Balotelli is an excellent example. But would he have gone off the rails so hard if he’d been at Barcelona rather than City?
Guy S


The Ultimate PFM candidates
A debate about the Ultimate PFM? There can be no debate – it’s Reidy

Loves the banter, the gee-gees, the golf, putting “the” in front of pretty much every activity and, of course, a night on the Cuprinol and Lilt Martinis? Check.

Talented footballer who’s game was based largely on graft rather than guile and ultimately didn’t reach the heights he could have? Check.

Incidents in his career that he can look back on bitterly (being on the pitch for the “hand of God”, English teams being kicked out of Europe, only winning 13 England caps)? Check.

An undistinguished management career that, aside from a few brief periods of success (the fulcrum of which was a spell at Sunderland spear-headed by the quintessentially British big man, little man strike partnership tactic), owes its longevity largely to his mates in the game? Check.

A brief foray into managing an obscure team of “foreigns”, no doubt to sample the weather and night-life rather than local culture? Check and a bonus point for the inevitable banter about lady boys leveled at him by Robbo, El Tel, Big Sam et al for choosing Thailand.

A brother managing in the non-league (“proper football”) to dispel any notion of BCB? Check.

A slightly comedic appearance and a distinct regional accent to maximise banter possibilities? Check. (One senses that the preferred dialect of the PFM is one of Cockney, Glaswegian or anywhere in the North)

There really is no debate – you can imagine him down the boozer with Robbo, on the golf course with Thommo, at the gee-gees with Kammy, toadying to Fergie and believing Big Ron was hard done by.

Reidy wouldn’t just stumble out of “Blue Tits” with Miss Birkenhead 1989, he was probably on the judging panel.
Mike Coxon, northern exile in Haywards Heath


Ultimate PFM: I’m assuming Reidy and Arry are excluded as they’ll be on the interview panel; and I recall Scottish PFMs don’t count as they’re officially RFMs, ruling out Rambo McInally and Andy Gray.

Norman Whiteside had a bit too much flair, plus he’s a dentist now (I think?), so his football man days are behind him. His ex-colleagues from the 80s trenches Paul McGrath and Bryan Robson are trying to avoid the bar (both kinds) and so are also disqualified.

Martin O’Neill has got Clough medals, but he likes his wife and is intelligent, so forget it. I imagine John Aldridge likes plenty of thigh-slapping, golf, and moustache-retaining, but his base of operation doesn’t extend beyond Merseyside/Ireland, so I can’t picture him ever being Arry’s assistant; out.

Shearer and Lee Dixon have got too many England caps. Wrighty and Roy Keane are both a bit nuts. Le Tiss has got one of them foreign names. Phil Thompson wouldn’t see a shopping trolley, traffic cone and underwear model as necessities for a quick pint.

So I think we’re looking at a shoot-out between Merse and Big Sam. I can’t separate them!
Neil Raines


I expect you’ll get lots of well known, high profile nominations for the ultimate PFM.  I’d like to nominate Roy McDonough though.  Facts supporting his case follow.

Big Club Bias? None at all.  Started with a big club, didn’t make the grade and played his whole career in various depths of the lower leagues.

Namby-pamby or rufty-tufty?  Big centre forward, liked a battle.  Holds the record for most red cards in English professional football.

Likes a drink with the boys?  Spent most of career drunk, according to his autobiography.   Extra PFM points for running off with the groundsmans wife whilst married to the chairmans daughter during his spell as Colchester manager.  Also really, really didn’t like Martin O’Neil when he was Wycombe manager, with his glasses, and tactics and whatnot.

Roy McDonough – hard as nails, drunk, philandering and violent on the pitch.  I rest my case.
Jeremy Aves


It’s very hard to choose a single Ultimate PFM, so many worthy winners. I think an awards ceremony with a vote would appropriate. Could be held at the PFA awards.

I would nominate:-

Roy Keane- General hard nut, he’s Irish so could comfortably drink Reidy under the table and he got a lot of red cards for boisterous tackles. Cons are that he was fairly good and had a lot of success.

Vinny Jones- similar to Keane without the success or footballing ability. An actor now aswell but in mostly crap films, dunno what they would think of that.

Julian Dicks- similar to Vinny Jones without the acting.

John Terry- English centre half, club legend, questionable attitude….ticks a lot of boxes. Only negative being his success.

Neil Ruddock- fat, limited ability, centre half,renowned for being a boozer. Could be a serious contender.

I’m sure there are other worthy nominees that I have left out. In my mind, I see Razor Ruddock taking it. Then stripping on Stage because Reidy has been plying him with toilet duck & mouthwash Mojitos all afternoon.
Dan, Ireland MUFC


In response to Charlie (Singapore CFC), it is my understanding that the ultimate PFM is Peter Reid.

As a non-PFM myself (I have two degrees don’t you know) I have no idea as to the inner workings of the PFM club, but I assume they would only let a proper, bonafide, top, top, top PFM loose in the ‘Brewery of Doom’ (which is located in the new annex adjacent to the Emporium of Vulgarity)
Conrad Wiacek, MUFC


Good call by Charlie (Singapore CFC) on who is the ultimate PFM. Based on Johnny N’s Football People on TV reviews surely Reidie fits the bill as the one others should aspire to, closely followed by someone like Phil Thompson. Outside of the FPTVs then players like Frank Worthington, George Best, Gazza instantly spring to mind.

Maybe Johnny can provide a league table which could be constantlly updated like the F365 England squad one? Problem would be though that most PFMs appear to be ‘retro’ with there being little chance of new entries given today’s footballer’s regimes/restrictions. What do others think? Maybe F365 can assist Jonny N with feedback from mailboxers ‘votes’?
Mike Woolrich, LFC



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