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SAVVY SUMMERS A MUST FOR LFC

by Sachin Nakrani // 22 March 2013 // 12 Comments

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By Sachin Nakrani

LIVERPOOL supporters have grown accustomed to greeting anything Ian Ayre says with a raised eyebrow and a gentle shake of the head, and so few will have been too reassured when he did the rounds on Thursday morning to insist he was “absolutely certain” Luis Suarez would be at Anfield next season following comments from the striker, while away on international duty with Uruguay, in which he appeared to make clear his interest in joining a club that could offer him immediate Champions League football. Yet whether Ayre had spoken or not, Kopites everywhere should be used to this now; that sound of drums that grows louder and louder as soon as a high-class talent first hints at a desire to move away from Merseyside.

It used to be a once-in-a-decade rarity to see a top player in their prime leave Liverpool before the club wanted them to – there was Kevin Keegan in the ‘70s, Ian Rush in the ‘80s, Steve Mcmanaman in the ‘90s and Michael Owen in the noughties – but since 2009 it has become almost bi-yearly in average, with Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano and Fernando Torres all wriggling free for a supposed better life elsewhere. It takes some getting used to, but sadly that is the situation we find ourselves in and there is every possibility that Suarez could be the next to break our hearts.

LFC mustn't be caught with their pants down this summer (Pic: David Rawcliffe, Propaganda Photo)

LFC mustn't be caught with their pants down this summer (Pic: David Rawcliffe, Propaganda Photo)

Before going on, let’s first knock this ‘lost in translation’ stuff on the head. While what Suarez said ahead of Uruguay’s World Cup qualifier with Paraguay on Friday may have been given a twist, the gist of it is sure to have been accurately reported and it continues to boggle the mind that players do not think that what they say away from this shores will eventually land back home. Suarez was simply answering a question put to him when he said “if another team comes around with more prospects of competing in international club competition games, which is willing to have me, they are welcome,” but, equally, he should have been aware of the bomb he was detonating. It is tough to stomach but that is what we have to do, and after all, who can blame a player of Suarez’s calibre for sending hints and invitations towards the direction of Europe’s current elite? The guy is outstanding, the scorer of 29 goals in 40 club appearances this season and a forward of such skill, ingenuity and determination that it is occasionally hard to believe he exists at all. Of course he should be playing for a club that is competing for titles and is regularly involved in the Champions League. Far less talented players are doing that already.

What we can hold onto as supporters is the fact Suarez signed a contract extension until 2017 last summer, and not only has a clear love for Liverpool but also a firm admiration for the manner in which Brendan Rodgers is trying to push the team back onto the summit of English and European football. But he is 26, at the peak of his powers, and come the end of the season, when Liverpool are unlikely to have finished any higher than sixth in the Premier League, Suarez may just have decided that he cannot wait any longer to join one of the host of clubs that are likely to come calling, with Juventus, Manchester City and Bayern Munich (whose soon-to-be manager, Pep Guardiola, happens to be the brother of Suarez’s agent) among those believed to be interested in Anfield’s No7.

What Liverpool must do is plan for the worst. It is six months since Dave Fallows and Barry Hunter began work as the club’s new scouting supremoes and given the fanfare that greeted their arrival (Rodgers said they would prevent a repeat of the calamity that characterised the last summer transfer window), it should be fair to presume that they now fully operational and have already begun filling dossiers with the names of potential future recruits.

For too long Liverpool’s signings from abroad have been a frustrating mix of the good, the bad and the ugly; for every Alonso there was a Biscan and Diao, for every Hyppia, a Pellegrino and Paletta, and quite simply if a club cannot recruit properly, it stands no chance of succeeding. I’m no expert but I’d guess that a one-in-four-shit-signing ratio is just about acceptable, anything over that and you’re asking for trouble.

Fallows, Hunter and the rest of their team need to show savvy in recruitment and, crucially, act decisively. As soon as a talent is identified, work must begin quickly to sign him up, because once the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and City start sniffing around the clock has begun ticking on Liverpool’s chances of getting that player and their chances of succeeding reduce significantly.

Here there must also be some loosening of FSG’s transfer straightjacket, the almost obsessive desire by the owners to only sign players of a certain age and, as John W Henry wrote in his infamous open letter of last September, avoid “overpaying for players.” Well of course nobody wants to overpay for players, but gambles may have to be taken if the club are to land their desired targets.

Suarez is a case in point. In hindsight he has proven a steal at £22.7m, yet when Liverpool signed him there were legitimate questions being asked about a player who had developed his reputation for scoring a high frequency of goals in the Eredivisie and whose temperament was a concern following his seven-match ban for biting PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal on the shoulder. He was deemed a risk and, had he been inclined, Henry could have decided that the player did not justify the fee. Certainly that could have been the case had Liverpool tried to sign Suarez last summer at a time when the club’s owners were in full damning mode regarding the “errors of previous regimes.”

Not to have signed Suarez would have of course been utterly foolish and to replace him may require an equally large leap of faith. That is a prospect nobody associated with Liverpool wants and hopefully it will be delayed for another season at least. My hunch is that the striker will stay put for at least 12 months, but I’m prepared for the worst.

Players come and go, it’s how you replace them that counts. Suarez is proof of that. The likes of Ayre should worry less about what he says and focus more on working out how best to react should he decide to leave this summer. Yet again, much depends on the actions and reactions of Anfield’s leading figures over the next few months.

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12 Comments

  1. Whilst mainly agreeing with the writer’s interpretation of Suarez’s gaff and his conclusion that Suarez will stay, I have to blame the current predicament on BR for not buying 1st class defenders over his passion for midfiellders. As Shanks stated you build a successful team from the back to support a solid spine.

  2. We’ve been here before all too often in the last twenty years, with the Brit (manchester controlled)media doing everything in their power to try and unsettle any decent player we’ve had, anything they can do to ensure we stay down as a club. They’ve always tried the (they are one man club one) with us whether it’s Luis, Torres, Gerrard, Alonso, and Owen before that.

    Personally I’m not that worried even if Luis is sold once we recoup a proper fee for him & we now have a regime who will spend that wisely & considerably. Once we don’t loose the head and start deviating & sacking again we will be fine and I’m convinced will be very successful in the next year or two.

  3. - Before going on, let’s first knock this ‘lost in translation’ stuff on the head. While what Suarez said ahead of Uruguay’s World Cup qualifier with Paraguay on Friday may have been given a twist, the gist of it is sure to have been accurately reported –

    yes of course because the media would never …i don’t know, make shit up to sell their rags would they? Especially when it comes to this club. I will give you the benefit and assume you are a bit naive and not the complete twat that statement makes you appear.

    I tend to take everything written in the print media (or TV for that matter) as unreliable, poorly researched, agenda driven bullshit. I have done that since about 1989 and it has allowed me to care not one whit about what they spew forth since.
    i draw the line though when a supposed supporter of this club suggests that they accurately report. The bastards do not know the meaning of the word.

    • Charming Steve. While I’d never deny that the media makes stuff up (we know that to be fact as far as hillsborough is concerned) I also know its a fact that the press report stuff accurately too, I know that because I work in the media and know that alongside the chancers there are many, many dedicated and upstanding journalists who take pride in doing their job properly. A large number of whom work on Merseyside.

      With all due respect, you’re the naive one if you don’t think Suarez said what he said in Uruguay, and you would be foolish to think that the premier league’s top scorer saying he is consider leaving his current club would not, or should not, make news in this country. I love luis as much as the next liverpool fan but he really was daft to think he could say something like that in Uruguay and that it would stay in Uruguay.

      And this is not part of any anti-liverpool media conspiracy – believe me, if robin van Persie had said he was thinking of leaving man utd while with holland, that would have got even more coverage here. Indeed, the focus there has been on rio Ferdinand over his pulling out of the England squad is proof that everyone is fair game, regardless of club.

      So no, I’m not a naive twat mate.

      • I notice his denial and deliberate misreporting of his words has received token coverage from the fine upstanding journalists you admire so much.
        The press do not report accurately they report with the an agenda bias that the organisation they are employed by hold.
        if you think writing on a blog is the same as writing in the media you are the naive one.
        One only has to look at the current reporting of the Cyprus situation to see that the reporting is agenda driven. I work as a commodity trader specifically with exposure to Oil and Gas products. Apart from certain industry specific commentators there has been nothing but agenda bias reported on all the major media outlets.
        None of which has scratched the surface of what is actually occurring and why.
        Now do you think that is because no journalists understand the situation or are able to investigate and find out or do you think it is because they are not permitted.

        • I can’t comment on the Cyprus situation Steve because, although aware of what’s going on, I know none of the finer, intricate details. But In regards to football reporting, talk of a media bias does cause me to roll my eyes. Why? Because every club think the media hates their club! Arsenal, spurs, chelsea, man utd, man city. Liverpool…all their fans think the press is out to get them. I’ve even had liverpool and utd fans accuse me of bias over the same piece!

          As I said in my initial reply to you, I’m not claiming all reporters are whiter than white, they’re not, but like in every industry there are good people and bad people. If you’re talking about bias against liverpool, would you say Brian reade, tony Barrett and Paul Joyce are bias against the club? Or my colleague David conn, who has written brilliantly about the scandal behind hillsborough and the search for justice for many, many years? If so, you’d be badly mistaken.

  4. Compared to last summer, literally burning £10m cash in a bonfire in front of Anfield would be a “savvy summer”!!

  5. I agree with a lot of what has been said above, one thing from a business perspective though is I think FSG have been very clever when tying Suarez up till 2017, because even if as mooted he was to leave, they would be able to factor in the remaining length of contract into the price they charge therefore elevating the price, much the same way United did with Rooney as many thought he may bolt soon after signing his new contract, I hope we do keep him and he fires us back to the glory days, If not we have to rely on the scouts to unearth more gems.

    • Agree with all of that Alan. As said in my piece, I don’t blame luis for keeping his options open and the club should prepare themselves in every way for his departure. Saying that, hope he stays put!

  6. I’d say his leaving is inevitable if Champions League football is not achieved by the end of next season and that would have been discussed in his contract negotiations. Hopefully a rediculously low buy clause wasn’t included and my faith in those who run the club can be slightly restored.

  7. If you’re in any doubt about the media misreporting quotes attributed to our players, I’d refer you to the evra suarez incident. Your mates at the guardian made the most of that. Fact is, liverpool stories sell papers and get Web traffic. This is a slow news week story when there’s no match on.

  8. its going to take a monumental summer of transfers to enrich the first team enough to be CL contenders. So far, only Allen and Coutinho give me any hope as far as Rodgers signings go. People get too excited about Sturridge imo, he’s decent but not amazing.

    To keep Luis beyond next season , its clear he needs some top dogs around him. Thankfully, kennys dross can be sold off to boost the reported 25m kitty.

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