Liverpool grabbed a bargain in January instead of investing properly, with desperation to find a gem over proven brilliance leading them to Darwin Nunez.
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‘Has the management and ownership structure at Liverpool started failing?’
This was what I pondered when I was in the shower this morning. It was one of those thoughts that seemed to turn the water that little bit colder, my pale and podgy posterior jiggling with dismay as a shiver ran down my spine.
I tried to dismiss the concern. Anfield Road’s expansion is on the cusp of being completed and our stadium will soon hold over 60,000. We have a world class training centre and only last season we were trying to complete the quadruple. From where we were under Hicks and Gillette, that is a seismic shift.
I was placated for a while, but as the coleslaw dripped from my chin at lunch, the darkness fell upon me again.
‘But what in the actual f*** have we been doing the last 12 months?’
Time away from the question had made me angry. Thinking about the last 2 Liverpool transfer windows, as far as an outsider could deduce, there seemed little logic and large amounts of bungling.
Jurgen started last summer scoffing at suggestions Liverpool needed midfield reinforcements, taking it upon himself to give a list of the 1st team options. Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago, Milner, Keita, Elliott, Jones, Carvalho etc. The argument put forth seemed to be ‘look at how many players we already have that could be considered CM.’ He also listed generic traits, the type all pundits and players might give themselves.
There is a logic to the answer, but mainly it was bullshit. None of the young players had done anything to prove they were capable of stepping up to a prem chasing team. The existing senior players had just played 248 games in a single season and were on the wrong side of 30. That they looked like they had fallen into a vat of treacle was to be expected.
Our reality was plain to see by January. The squad, and particularly the midfield, was stale and slow and needed freshening up, certainly if we were to have a shot of qualifying for the Champs League. The January window was an opportunity to fast track one of the midfield targets. Yes, it would cost more, but considering we have regularly earned north of £100m for long runs in Europe, it could be considered the dictionary definition of speculating to accumulate.
Instead, we bought a player because we could get him cheap. Gakpo has been thoroughly decent, this is not a criticism of him, its that the club prioritised a bargain over recruiting what the squad desperately needed. For the rest of the window, we sat on our hands. Then we finished 5th.
Who is to blame for this inaction is a difficult one. I would suggest Michael Edwards our transfer guru, didn’t choose to leave Liverpool because they had climbed the mountain and could reap the rewards of his solid investment, but instead saw the direction of travel. Becoming successful earns your team large amounts of money and last season Liverpool had the third highest turnover in the world. That we spend like a mid-table side was going to eventually come back to haunt us. And instead of recruiting from a position of power, where players are desperate to join in the silverware party, we are now left to try and tempt players to a team that has already started tumbling towards the mountain’s steep sided cliff.
Julian Ward was promoted to our director of football, seemingly had a meeting with the owners to get the lay of the land, then came out and tendered his resignation. And it wasn’t even a shock. Liverpool, even when they were winning Premier League titles, seemed to be working very hard to portray themselves as the poorer cousins of the ‘big’ clubs. ‘We do things differently’ Klopp insisted as he ruled us out of Mbappe and Haaland transfers (81 goals in 86 appearances last season). We don’t need to spend gazillions of pounds, that’s what the Real Madrid’s and Man City’s do. Instead, we will do what Brighton do and find gems whose transfers provide value. So, we spent €80m on Darwin Nunez (9 goals in 29 games – €20m more than Haaland) and bought 2 kids, one who had an actual broken leg on arrival, the other barely played and now wants to leave. And after ruling ourselves out of Mbappe and Haaland, we also passed up the English equivalent because he was too expensive. The reality is those players are priceless. Those players win you Leagues and European titles. Those players sell you thousands of shirts and win you millions of young fans around the world.
If you’re a penny pincher you will never see passed the price to what true value those kinds of players can bring. And to give you an example, what transfer fee would have been reasonable for Messi if Barca had been looking to sell him at 18? £100m / £200m / £300m / £400m? His value is incalculable. He could have turned Liverpool into Prem and European cup challengers, possibly winners. Attracted the best players who wanted to play with him and maybe made the club the biggest in the world.
I am worried our downward trend is going to continue. Newcastle, Man Utd and Arsenal are all investing in their squads (And City don’t even need to and are still well clear of Liverpool). All 3 have the boost of Champions League revenue and prestige to afford and attract their targets. We talk of the Liverpool rebuild, but will we actually bring in more players than Utd or Newcastle? And with VVD and Salah 31 and 32 when the new season kicks off, 2 of our world class players are going to be producing diminishing returns over the coming seasons. I fear Liverpool required a rebuild last season, that we didn’t was the beginning of a decline that could last for a lot longer than we realise.
Ring my Bell
In response to Paul and giving up your season ticket. That’s absolutely pathetic. Klopp and FSG have brought loads of success and one bad season and one missed transfer (spending stupid money on “Big” signings from Dortmund don’t always work out…Sancho) and your throwing in the towel.Grow up ffs
I note that Paul from Wirral says he has just handed back his season tickets.
The deadline to renew was May 25th, so I am curious what has occurred in the 22 days since that deadline has passed, that was not know before that that has led to this course of action.
As for his claim that he will be back when FSG and Klopp have gone, I’m not sure how he plans to do that given the Season Ticket waiting list is currently closed.
I’m sure the new owner of his season tickets, if they have indeed been returned, will embrace the opportunity to go to Anfield every other week.
ITK = BS
Over the last decade, we have seen the rise of the In The Know account online. Each club has their chosen ‘ITK’ journalist or agent, or just social media account. The one they trust. But increasingly over the last couple of years, I’ve seen how these accounts do the following:
– Whip up their chosen fan base online. Every little snippet is hoovered up by a desperate collection of fans. They start building unreasonable dreams, and hate even rumoured signings
– They retweet each other, creating a circlejerk of confusion. Where did the rumour come from? Was it DrKarthik (some rando from Chennai who apparently is ITK),. was it Romano, Ornstein or who? They quote each other, and so actually finding who said it first becomes impossible
– However, the people who benefit from these supposed links are almost always the agent of the player, and the selling club. I appreciate this could be a negotiating tactic, but it reeks of another British favourite pastime, gazumping. People love to screw others over here, be it house buying or buying a player from under the nose of a rival cough Mudryk cough.
And I realised it stressed me out, to the detriment of my own well being. Feeling disappointed over a transfer…a transfer! FFS, its a game played by millionaires, and I’m supposed to carry the emotional baggage? F*** that! I’ve muted all the Arsenal related words I need to for a peaceful few months away from the frenzy that is football. Don’t get whipped up, get a Mr Whippy ice cream instead, you’ll be happier I promise
John Matrix AFC
Had a drink and rising to Dave Tickners click bait.
If your article about what will make Man United fans happy in terms of signings is driven by what people send in to F365 I kind of get it.
But United fans I know do not agree with you on any level.
We hope ETH gets some money while our ownership is in limbo, recognise we are some way behind City, and hope we continue to improve from last season which, as you say, was all we could have hoped for
And why do refer to a quadruple in your article, whilst acknowledging no sensible United fan ever had it in our minds.
And for FFS, why do you mention wanting Qatar to buy United other than to be able to generate even more clickbait. Bugger any ethical considerations eh. Maybe apply for a journo job at a red top.
So we’ll bid aimlessly for Mount at £40m but won’t present Kim our project before we activate his £42m release clause, therefore losing him to Bayern
I don’t get the logic of this football club.
— Frank 🧠🇳🇱 (@TenHagEra) June 15, 2023
Does sportswashing work?
I’m sure I’m about to open a can of worms that needn’t be opened, but given the discourse around City’s treble, Man U’s takeover and the ownership of my club (Newcastle), I stopped to think about it a bit yesterday.
Sportswashing defined (by Greenpeace in this case) as “the act of sponsoring a sports team or event in order to distract from bad practices elsewhere”. Yet, I’m yet to see any of these high-profile that that has been the case.
I went to Qatar for the World Cup (I know, but I love football too much…) and the takeaway from pretty much everyone I spoke to out there was how they wouldn’t be coming back, and the idea of going there on holiday seemed mad. The focus that the world cup drew on Qatar surely can’t have been good for investment, putting all of the wrongdoings onto front page news while their equally uncuddly neighbours are off them.
The same applies to owning football teams. I’m not sure how PIF owning Newcastle is supposed to make the world feel better about Saudi Arabia. There will be a handful of fans who will do that, grateful for the investment in our club (and you can see this with some Man U fans re: Qatar now). But it also brings these various issues to the fore and probably makes fans of other teams dislike Saudi Arabia (in this case), more.
It may be more subtle than this and I’m interested to hear how other fans may think it works in practice. Maybe I’ve just been sportswashed.
Leaving aside the rather ironic fact that a dude called anatoly is calling for things to be more British I actually think his idea has merit…
But it’s not extreme enough.
Let’s make it so that only players born in Manchester can play for Manchester clubs. Only London for London clubs etc. Make it PROPER home grown down to the local level. Each team can have 5 foreigners total but players from other cities also count as foreign.
This is obviously super outlandish but imagine how competitive this would make it? Nobody could buy success. No English team would ever win a European trophy ever again but who wants a FOREIGN trophy? Let’s also restrict sponsorships and ownerships to British only. I want to see good English powerhouse companies like cash generators and pound bakery slapped across a united shirt. Jadon Sancho should proudly step out onto old scrapyard flashing his new Gola boots as he smashes the winner in front of all the fans sitting in the Gregg’s bakery stand.
Jokes aside this type of insanely protectionist policies would force clubs to heavily invest in local grassroots football and infrastructure in order to get a conveyor belt of good players.
Don’t take half measures anatomy – go the whole nine.