SURVEYING the wreckage of the final week of the summer transfer window and of Liverpool FC’s failure to re-stock its attack it is hard to not to reach the harshest of conclusions. An entire season has been compromised, and a rookie manager left with a task of Herculean proportions.
Let us make no mistake, Liverpool’s ownership,FSG, have sent out a devastating message to LFC supporters and to the wider football community alike – Liverpool Football Club are (once again) significantly under-resourced and beginning a process of financial retreat. Liverpool fans know the script from here-on in. We’ve lived through this nightmare once before and the memory is still very raw.
Too strong ? Of course, the above conclusion may be entirely wrong. The real information is only shared very selectively, so supposition based on the bluntest of facts is all we are left with. If this best guess is wrong, the time is nigh and now for some serious communicating to be done. By that it is implied that a meaningless rambling ‘open letter’ that addresses no real concerns at all will not suffice. What we witnessed last week was simply outrageous. It wasn’t acceptable. Even incompetence alone can’t excuse it.
The temptation to become over emotional, lose objectivity, and to reach too sweeping a set of conclusions based on limited information is the lot of the fan. It is what we do. We deal with what is before us. What is before us the morning after the night before the summer 2012 football transfer window closed is not a thing of beauty, though. It’s brutal, ugly, and still as shocking as the days pass.
Supporters awoke expecting to turn over to regard bedside TVs and gaze lovingly into the eyes of a couple of shiny new Liverpool Football club attacking recruits bedecked in box fresh crimson replica shirts, a Cheshire cat of a manager the gleeful meat in the new-signing press call sandwich. No such luck.
Instead, we woke to the bastard of all transfer window hangovers. Wiping sleep from our eyes, what we turned to face was too revolting a countenance to bear. Our beloved new forwards were in bed with other clubs, and there was a massive pile of metaphorical Jim White shaped vomit on pillows. We’d been spiked.
Much has gone on unseen to the supporters over-curious eyes at the football club these past few weeks. Negotiations with agents and other teams, Europe and worldwide have had LFC officials’ mobile phones pressed to flesh to an unhealthy degree. One can imagine heated trans-Atlantic video conferences, and club manager and chief executive living within each other’s pockets. All good stuff in theory. Part of the dance.
We cannot know what hurdles these men (and undoubtedly very few women, but that’s another story) will have faced, or the nuances of their tasks that outsiders won’t even imagine.
We know some things though. A selection of inescapables . With one week left of the transfer window, Liverpool had released 3 footballers who had all contributed appearances and goals to the first team last season, and replaced them with 3 new ones, plus one whose price level suggested he might be called upon fairly sparingly.
No big problems there, save for the fact that the 3 let loose were all fore-mostly contributors to the team’s attack element. The 3 main new recruits were not. Well, two of them weren’t. The 3 departees were also experienced and decorated professionals. All men who could be counted on to provide a guaranteed minimum performance level. Their solitary attacking replacement was an Italian freshman, Fabio Borini, a one-to-watch 21 year old striker, but one with just 24 appearances and 9 goals to his name at football’s top level.
The manager was not slow to spot that he was simply light on bodies up front, coming into that closing transfer window week. He knew he needed more firepower, the media knew it, the support clearly were aware of the imperative, and so trust was duly bestowed in Ian Ayre and his American employers. They were charged with a clear task – just go out and buy us fucking some goals.
Further, and perhaps crucially, plans were still afoot to go further backwards, in terms of the teams attacking pool, before supposedly going forwards. Brendan Rodgers had felt since the day of his appointment at Anfield that club record signing, aerial Andy Carroll, was simply not the right fit for his grounded vision. A controversial conclusion, undoubtedly, but one which most respected was the new manager’s prerogative.
So, as the transfer window denouement approached, speculation correctly mounted as to the numbers game that would be played out with the requirement for attacking replenishment reaching serious proportions. Rodgers spoke of feeling confident that he’d be welcoming at least 2 new forwards, with the implication that 3 would not surprise either.
The manager and leaks from the club hinted at financial strictures as the final phase of squad adjustment was entered. This is normal. The supporters expect this. This is a football club universal truth everywhere but for a couple of insane outposts in Manchester and West London. The manager had clearly been provided with some money earlier in the summer. A none too shabby sum, it must be conceded. Equally though Rodgers could claim more than solid housekeeping having shed over £20m worth of annual wage obligations by releasing Bellamy, Aquilani, Kuyt, Maxi and Aurelio.
What actually transpired in the transfer windows closing week beggars belief. There was a broad acceptance that new purchases would need to be matched by sales. Supporters had in the main accepted the FSG maxim that the club must live within its means. It had spent generously in the prior month bringing in Borini, Allen, Assaidi and Sahin for around £30m. It was expected that the summer’s business would be concluded with the addition of two strong attack players, most likely the accomplished Clint Dempsey at an appealing £6-8m and a potentially stellar young British flyer such as Theo Walcott or Daniel Sturridge. The latter pair would be bracketed in the £12-15m fee range.
The anticipated late £20m-ish splurge would clearly be funded by offloading Carroll for £15-17m and a fringe player or two to bridge any shortfall. There loomed a complicating factor in that bidders for Carroll had hitherto appeared to have more of an appetite for an initial loan deal with the promise of a full payment a year later. Would Liverpool FSG owners provide the short term cash to replace Carroll in such a circumstance? We waited to find out and held our breaths.
The grudging minimum position appeared to be that Brendan Rodger would end the summer draft phase with at least one new solid forward in the shape of Clint Dempsey, with the strong possibility of another either purchased outright with the potential Carroll fee, or acquired in a matching loan deal. Scenario three saw perhaps just Dempsey acquired with Carroll permitted to extend his Liverpool career as a back-up option. Despite the manager’s reservations, it is not impossible that Carroll could have been rehabilitated.
The events that were to actually unfold during the last week of August stretched credulity. Just a bit. Carroll was released with just 2 days left on the transfer clock. On loan. Fine. Sort of. Let’s brush aside that supporters had become acclimatised by attrition to accepting the release of a £35m asset for a reportedly paltry £1m loan fee. That bit, heads had been got round, largely, because there was/is faith in the credo of the new manager, Rodgers.
As Andy Carroll gritted his teeth and closed his eyes as the flash bulbs whizzed and popped and recorded his first donning of a West Ham shirt on Thursday night, Rodgers was assuring an inquisitive post Hearts match press pack that he had near cast iron guarantees that replacements (plural) were in place and ready for their big reveals on the Friday. The un-said, the implicit, was that no manager, no organisation such as Liverpool football club, would be so crassly incompetent, just 24 hours before the end of a transfer window, to leave itself so scarce of attacking resources, without having finalised its contingency plan.
Nothing could be left to chance. It didn’t need to be. Just 18 months earlier, Damien Comolli and Kenny Dalglish ensured that Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez were Liverpool players before they would similarly release Fernando Torres to Chelsea. The deals were back-to-backed. As transactions of this kind must be, when there is no margin for error, no time left for new manoeuvre.
Fast forward 24 hours. No. Do, because to pause and relive the events of black Friday would enrage and flabbergast the most patient of Liverpool supporters. The lack of a fee for Carroll the day before meant that scenario two was to be played out – get Dempsey in for £6-8m and another good lad on loan.
Jim White day on Sky started brightly with excited talk of Sturridge coming in on interest free HP credit, or possibly even some fashionable Brazilian supernova. News of Clint Dempsey’s morning snook cocking at Aston Villa’s attempts to lure, increased confidence that his signing was now a formality. Our expectations had been sufficiently lowered to accept that these were good compensations for losing a £35m player for the price a small semi in re-gentrified East London.
The club’s in-house channel had scheduled a ‘deadline day special’ to be the first to have the exclusive footage of our new signing in his under crackers, and then shaking hands with a usually mildly pickled looking Ian Ayre. Melwood expected. Sky were there. The youth of West Derby were collected. Behind Vinnie O’Connor. Giving it the wanker hand signs and all that jazz. A festival atmosphere and all associated clichés were in full effect.
By our Sky set top boxes, and HD ready TVs we waited. And waited. Jim White seemed overly distracted by the sheer scale of events taking place at Spurs Lodge and Stoke Shack, that he appeared to be wilfully ignoring our insatiable appetites for LFC related updates.
The hours passed and Daniel Sturridge, rather being spotted leaving a Liverpool city centre hotel or alighting a copter at JLA ‘International’, was in fact warming the salubrious bench at the Stade Velodrome watching his Chelsea boys take a pasting from Atletico Madrid in the European Super Charity shield match . In Monaco. In bloody France. He was clearly neither coming nor going.
And then there was one. Clinton Dempsey. Waiting patiently in London for a call that never came. Villa begged him to join them. Sunderland offered him the freedom of Wearside. Still Clint held firm. Firm in his conviction that Liverpool football club, as they had promised him all summer long, would arrive at the 11th hour and liberate him from his Craven Cottage inferno.
Clint paced his room. TV on in the corner, wife and child keeping their distance. Giving him space. The phone rings, and Clint dives across the couch , sending a table lamp flying, landing in a heap on the shagpile. Receiver in hand he breathlessly answers. It’s not Ian Ayre or Brendan Rodgers though. It’s not his current employers Martin Jol or Al fayed even. It’s just some guy selling him potential compo for mis-sold PPI insurance. This scene is played out several more exasperating times, and until the grim reality lands on Clinton that his card is truly marked. He ain’t going to Liverpool. They’ve ballsed it up. Flirted with him. Gave him a summer to remember. Promised him the earth. Touched him in places. Got him moist.
Meanwhile, back at Melwood, Ian Ayre was spotted leaving the building. Brendan followed suit. LFCTV cut transfer deadline day transmission, and changed their schedules. Vinnie, the Sky crew, and the West Derby massive, drifted off into the night. It was like someone had died.
What died that night for too many Liverpool supporters, it’s hard not to conclude, was faith. That wide eyed, child like, tomorrow can always be a better day, gormless faith, that is required to relentlessly follow football teams. The faith that perished though, was not a loss of faith in managers or players, or the badge, the entity. It was a loss of faith in the leadership. That may be in Mr Ayre or Mr Henry or Mr Werner. We can’t focus on who, because we don’t know enough. We don’t really care precisely ‘who?’. We know, though, it’s at least one of yoose, but it might as well be all.
That. That thing last week chaps. That wasn’t good. Time to start the explaining, because without chapter and verse, Mr Ayre, Boston, we do have a problem.
Superbly depressing stuff.
Depressing but honest, something we have got in spades well the first word anyway, Honesty isn’t pouring out as much. I logged off before 5 and full expected at least one signing if not 2 by 10pm and I will be haunted by that day until Jan 1st comes round again, we must identify targets between now and then. Strike hard and fast and not let it drag on, a firm message to us fans, supporters, Liver Birds in our hearts that ye are sorry and this has woken ye from your cosy slumber in Boston and one so called Gentleman in Liverpool. Once bitten fair enough but Twice bitten Shame on you, it won’t be forgiven again.
I still can’t believe this actually happened
Quality article, made me smile through the absurdness of it all.
Good read, Sound.
Well done Rob. A great summary and captured my feelings excellently.
From a governance perspective one would expect that internal discussions must be going on and sanctions determined. They have been happy to hire and fire in their tenure, The Hodge, (and his back room team), Kenny, Clarke (and their back room teams), Commolli, Sports Science Bods, PR and Legal teams – surely they must start looking a little closer to home for the root of the problems.
Its a bit like the old 1970s gag about the woman driver driving down the M62 and asking her white knuckled and ashen faced husband- why is everyone driving in the wrong direction!
Superb stuff Rob!
Great piece and a enjoyable read. However the owners are naturally wary having seen the previous incumbents spend over 100 million pounds on players that 12 months later have left for reduced fees or at best sit on the bench. This profligate spending is what brought about the end of the age of innocence in my opinion, and with that huge FSG transfer kitty wasted we’re back to shopping on a tight budget.
Without the regular extra £30 mil from the CL, management and ownership have to be on top form in the transfer market.
FSG gave Kenny the kitty to get them back into the CL. He got them 8th and a League Cup. That has spooked the hell out of them.
They have realised that the maths dont add up and have run scared.
If they think that just because they got the club on the cheap the fans will let them manage a decline then they are in fantasy land.
They show a total lack of understanding about the English top flight.
Great piece Rob.
This episode has led me to reflect on the speed with which FSG abandoned their plans for a new structure at the top of the club; sporting directors, all that stuff. They did this in order to hire (in their view) the best candidate for the job. Fair enough.
Fast forward two months.
As JWH himself has pointed out, the club secured all of the players who fit with their new zingy youth-orientated transfer policy pretty quickly. An admirable effort. Well done FSG. But then came Clint. Yes, Fulham may have played silly buggers (who can honestly blame them?), but then so did FSG. To what end? Are we to seriously believe that paying an extra fist full of dollars ($2M, rough translation: +1 PL Finishing place & US shirt sales) for Dempsey was so idealistically abhorrent? Might there be another reason for them having fcuked it up so royally?
In short, this is a perfect case study in how to convince Rodgers that we actually do need a sporting director, and all it cost was missing out on a 29 year old player.
The perfect candidate & their preferred structure? We might yet see further evidence of FSG’s ruthless streak in L4.
Wonderful point but a bit worrying if that must do that to get their own way, sadistic at best. We need a presence here at L4 with the ability to do the job no the ability to accept a position they have never had or will ever be able to do.
Yes, I have been thinking this too. A group who are obviously so concerned with increasing the commercial revenue not paying a couple of mil for a player who would have guaranteed massive shirt sales in USA, makes no sense unless there was an ulterior motive. I would not be surprised to see a sporting director type in place this time next year and Ayre maybe the sacrificial lamb to convince Rodgers it is the right thing to do.
An emotional piece that is perhaps overloaded with metaphors and overly complicated sentence construction, which however reflects on how most of the fans feel at the moment.
I have nothing to add, only perhaps that we, the supporters, should face the reality, stop moaning, borrow some patience, get behind the team and the manager, and FFS, do not let the visiting fans outsing us at Anfield.
Negativity won’t make things any better. We’ve got what we’ve got. Live with it for now. Our players should receive positive vibes from us. Let’s do what we can do best: inspire them to perform on top of their talent, which is undoubtedly there.
No doubt some major cock ups last week. Some obviously caused by the Damien C legacy from last year and the fear of over paying for players.
The concern I have is that while well respected sites like this continue to delve into the why’s and wherefore’s, raising various issues with the running of the club, it fuels the “type 3” idiot fans. We’re not as naive as we were in the H&G days so we have to closely monitor those in power, but it is vital when criticising the current regime that you stress how we are not close to bankruptcy which we were with the previous crooks.
They’ve put us into a much better financial position albeit without putting much of their own money into the pot.
JH tried to explain (not particularly well, not in interview and probably via our new Communications Director) but he did try.
We are where we are. We need to move on and support the team we have.
One of the real concerns I have is the poor support at the Arsenal match that doesn’t seem to have been raised as a problem. Basically, the team “feeds” the supporters and the supporters “feed” the team. This relationship is what helped to make us great. This team cannot (yet) do this on their own.
One final point; those with long memories will know that even Shanks was unable to buy the players he wanted when he wanted them in those early days of his tenure.
I understand the anger, and the situation is, of course, lamentable. However look at it from FSG’s perspective. They buy the club and say, on day one, we are going to follow a policy which will be financially prudent and only buy young players with a resale value and development potential. They followed the fans sentiments and appointed Dalglish, and oversaw him and the big C spend more than £100m on players. Note.. They don’t mind spending big, but a policy has to be followed. The result is a dismal season and a sacking. They recruit Rodgers who is, presumably, appointed with knowledge of their policy., Over the summer they sanction another £30m plus of spending on new players and take the hit as much of the £100m they spent is deemed not good enough and goes for a pittance. Then, at the last minute, they are asked “can we have £7million for a player approaching 30 please Dad… Other clubs can get him for £5m but we have to pay £7m.” Its easy to understand FAG’s reaction… BR et al had all summer to source potential recruits, FSG did not let big Andy go, BR did. FSG have invested very heavily in the club, tried to communicate with fans and spent sums other big clubs would be envious of. To blame them for last Friday’s shambles is ridiculous…
We do, everyone agrees.
The thing is, unless FSG sack Ian Ayre to appoint this newcomer (unlikely given Ayre’s worth to the non-playing side of the house), they will be going against the agreement to give Rodgers control…..
When FSG had to choose in summer for the new manager, LFC was in the course of the most critical days/weeks of its modern history. The decision FSG would have made by appointing a new manager would stigmatize in-depth time the future of one of the most historical clubs/brand name in the overall history of world-wide football! It was the time for a serious decision and FSG did not have the luxury to call it wrong. At the specific moment John W. Henry, Thomas Werner, and Ian Ayre had to make that decision and they did not have the luxury for further experimentations as it has been going through for the last 20 years. LFC fans got fed up with psycho-destruction choices that could only irritate and annoy them. The fans were hungry to listen for the appointment of a well-established world class manager name with a proven title winner record not the name of an unrated/unpopular manager no matter if he has the potentials or not. Thus, this season LFC’s failure did not begin from yesterday’s defeat against West Brom but from the very 1st moment that FSG considered to appoint as manager either Roberto Martinez or either Brendan Rodgers. The strategy FSG is applying is very dangerous for the future of one of the most historic clubs in the world and it may be the time for them to consider selling the team to an owner who has the financial capability to invest heavily and turn the fortunes of this club by bringing back the glory days. There are no more excuses for them, for Ian Ayre, for any manager, for the players. The responsibility belongs to them and to nobody else! So, I think the time has come for all pure LFC fans in the world to protest and ask from FSG to sell!
FSG are making life difficult for themselves. They want control but they have no knowledge. They listen to suits but do not talk to Rafa. They get rid of Kenny and Steve Clarke, Pep Segura leaves because he can see no future. They need experience they employ youth, they need goals they get rid of forwards. Meanwhile we are being overtaken by the teams around us. Those above are long gone. Hope is being replaced by reality, faith by cynicism.
Please name them. These amazing shiny new strikers that were going to turn around LFC’s fortunes. These world class 25-30 a season goalscorers. Mr Clint 10 goals a season Dempsey perhaps? OK. But who else? There’s so much angry shouting on this and other LFC fan sites about BR and FSG’s behaviour in the recent transfer window. They should’ve bought this, they should’ve bought that. But the simple fact is EVEN IF WE HAD THE MONEY, we wouldn’t be able to attract the quality of striker that the fans are begging for. Why would Fernando Llorente Torres swap the banks of the Nervión for the Mersey? Do we really think David Villa would play for us? Yeah, dream on boys. The best EPL forwards already play for the best EPL teams. They ain’t gonna come to Anfield. So what’s left? Fuck all. Live with it and give BR the support he deserves. And stop slagging off the owners just because they won’t fulfil your personal player fantasies.
Steve, by ‘shiny new strikers’ I mean ones more qualified to do a job in Liverpool’s attack than 18 year old Adam Morgan. I f Suarez gets injured we have just one ‘senior’ striker – 21 year old Borini. If we want to bring a fresh striker off the bench after 60 minutes, we haven’t got one. If we want to rest Suarez and Borini for a cup tie, we haven’t got anyone to stand in for them.
I didn’t imply that Clint Dempsey was the cure for all our ills. Quite the contrary. He was the minimum we had a right to expect from a half way competent transfer policy. To have offloaded Bellamy, Kuyt, Maxi and Carroll and replaced their positions in the squad with Borini and a £3m punt signing (Assaidi), following a season where goal scoring was the problem, is negligent.
My hunch is that the manager is not significantly culpable here. Certainly nowhere near to the degree of those who had a responsibility to back him.
Rob, worse, having looked at the U21/U18 squads, there don’t seem to be that many strikers. Ngoo, and then a plethora of attacking midfielders and wingers. Don’t forget we let Ecclestone go as well.
And Spearing. Meaning there is no one to fill Lucas’s role while he’s out. It’s not Shelvey’s game, not Sahin’s, not Allen’s and certainly not Gerrard’s. Henderson, possibly, though I’m not sure he’s feeling all that wanted.
As for people who say there’s always January, two words come to mind. Andy Carroll, decent enough player, horrendous piece of business. We’ll be held to ransom in the same way that NUFC squeezed us for the Torres dosh. In this market, if everyone knows you need something badly, the prices immediately go up.
It’s totally ludicrous. A massive cluster-fucked cock-up.
Depressing stuff. Reminded me of H&G times. Great article and well written
good stuff agree and felt the same rob but as brendon rodgers says we have got to just get on with what we have got now our job as supporters is to get behind the team encourage and support for 90 mins especially at home where the self proclaimed best fans in the country have been poor in the majority of home games ,can anyone remember the last time we got beat at anfield when the atmosphere was electric for 90mins? do we only show passion and support when we are winning now?
As well as the shiny new strikers, where are the shiny new owners some want? Surely if there were any sugar-daddy types left they would’ve appeared when were on the market!
The owners we have now are as good as we’re going to get for a while.
I’m more puzzled to know why we didn’t take up the Damiao offer. FSG apparently were happy to spend over for young, exciting talent – yet we didn’t stump up for Damiao: why?
FFS ! Should we all slash our wrists now, Rob?
Under resourced and financial retreat ? Really ? Or is it taking a hard stance so we don’t get taken advantage of in the future ? 7mil for us, but less for everyone else ?
Known for paying 35 mil for a 15 mil player ?
Offering 14mil for a 4 mil player ?
We’ve become known as easy marks .. well, that may well have just changed, and if Dempsey was going to be the difference in our season, how fucked up were we to begin with ?!?!?!?!?
This is going to be a long and painful year .. whether we had Dempsey or not. But the potential rewards for this pain, is a foundation for the future that may well keep us on top for many years.
Provided you haven’t offered free trips to Guyana, and some Cool-Aid by then.
Mate, we know it’s going to be long and painful. It’s been long and painful so far, and it will be worse before it gets better. But the question is, why, when it’s already long and painful, does it have to be so humiliating too? Why have so many decisions been made that make us actually go, WHAT?? Who on earth thought that was a good idea??
Have we forgotten where we were before FSG came in? On the brink of financial collapse and administration. I think some people should remember the past.
We scream and shout that we should give a good manager time to make his impact on the club, but in the same breath we curse FSG’s failings.
Give them time, I say. They are not H&G.
I agree they are not H&G and they have improved the financial situation, but 2yrs in there are operational questions to be asked.
If there is no money there’s no money, just tell us , don’t say we can compete with anyone if we can’t .
Don’t lead the manager into thinking he will get two players in to replace one , when you won’t even sanction one.
Who in their right mind buys a $500m business and doesn’t have a strategy to run it ?
If we benchmark against were we need to be (the top 4 teams) and we can’t compete on money then we need to be smarter in how we conduct our football business, we are not the 5th best run club , not even the 10th!! we are a shambles operationally!
We need someone to be turning the operational cogs smartly, quietly and efficiently in the background, we don’t need a flash “mourinho” CEO , we need a strong quiet leader who is seen when they need to be seen.
A Proper Football Administrator
This is were FSG have failed in two years, in my opinion, and we see the knock on effects of this at the business end of the club, the team.
The concern is who is advising FSG on all things football?Whoever it is has not got a clue.
Obviously Man Ure have no problems buying a 29yr old striker for big money.
It seems LFC are becoming slaves to systems i.e moneyball and tiki-taka and to hell with results.
Whats wrong with just trying to win football matches?
Friday killed us. Every man and his dog now knows we need a striker so we won’t be spending in January.
There is a frighteningly real potential that this squad doesn’t have enough goals in it for a top half finish.
Skimping on a couple of million today could cost the club 10’s of million tomorrow.
What is concerning me is the amount of stuff that has gone on, that has literally left us open-mouthed with disbelief. Torres going. 35m for Carroll. (I still cannot get my head around this) An inadequate response to the Suarez affair (either way). Henderson and Downing. Charlie Adam. Commoli coming. Commoli going. Dalglish gets sacked. DoF. DoF technical commitee. Rodgers hired. No DoF. Carroll goes for a song. Henderson PLUS CASH for Dempsey..hang on, WTF???
And after all that roller-coastering, FSG and Ayre blandly see no problem with Friday. Of course not..any fan who has been through the last 18 months with LFC will now be asking themselves..”What the hell were we expecting?” It’s like complaining about British summers, it’s pointless, but it’s also irrational because… what the hell do we expect, it always rains in July FFS. So keep calm and carry on guys, we have a plan..Well strictly speaking, it’s the 3rd plan we’ve adopted since we arrived, but it is a plan and we will stick to it as long as it can be pointed to as the reason for making so many bizarre decisions. And oh yes, forgot to mention….sorry about the media balls-ups when we told you about Suarez’s new contract early, and the Griffin, and Clint. We promise to do better on that front from now on. We’re new to this Sports Management game. Oh.
Never mind the abusive relationship we have with the clubs we support, there’s enough gone on to actually traumatise LFC fans. We’re shell-shocked. We’ve been in the trenches taking grenades so long that even united fans have started feeling sorry for us.
I’m telling you guys and girls, at the back of this is some nobhead ‘football consultant’ that FSG will not reveal, the Graeme Sounness figure that they are keeping quiet. We’ve heard about him or them, but not their identity..we will not get the opportunity to judge the footballing nous of this shadowy figure or figures, despite their uncontested input into the running of this institution. FSG cannot and will not tell us who it is. He is their trump card, the architect of the project(s)
Mr Henry, Mr. Chang, please tell us who is your football consultant? Is it Hansen? Lawro? Pleat? God help us, not Howard Wilkinson? But, Please. Not. Sounness.
Rob, I am very uncomfortable-I normally disagree with everyone. Yet each time you speak/write I bl00dy find myself nodding enthusiastically.
If I thought Friday was a watershed moment in my feelings towards FSG it was only overtaken by the open letter. I have lost much faith in them, I don’t think they know what is required to compete in this league.
They are not bad people, I quite like JWH. I thank them for rescuing us from the Muppet Show Hell – I think the last week has simply exposed their lack of understanding in what it takes to “win”.
Like everyone on this weeks podcast-I don’t think they would have bought us had they known what they know now. That says everything.
Opening Question for next weeks podcast-best Bowie album.
Fair play i enjoyed that article. I’m more a glass half full LFC fan so it annoyed me at first even if I didn’t disagree with much of it (that’s probably why it annoyed me). As I read on though I found myself genuinely smiling. Excellent description of deadline day. Completely took me back to Friday. My heart even starting racing when Dempsey’s phone rang. Brilliant.
The truth is that we, the fans, allowed FSG to ignore our opinions by the campaign against Hodgson and the clamour for Kenny.
Rail against the departures of Kuyt, Maxi, Carroll et al, Kenny more or less ignored them anyway. His use of Carroll was puzzling, to say the least, particularly as he persisted with his other signings despite dreadful performances and evidence that they were bummers. Of the signings, big Andy was the only one who showed glimpses of what might be; the others were logs. Hendo is a boy whose promise was not promise but the best he could do. We have seen the best of him.
BR goes to water when the chips are down; go behind and you’re gone. Swansea proved that, because they seldom made up deficits.
So we have owners who don’t know anything about football, and a manager who has moved one step too far. It’s okay to shine at a club where success is unexpected (Hodgson’s made a career out of that) but we don’t look upon a point against Fulham as a win, or we used not to – we’d grab it now.
I read the letter! I felt like I do when a Jehovah’s Witness knocks on the door.For the first 5 or 6 minutes I’m starting to think that after all these years I’ve got it all wrong!
I carried on reading the letter;the whole world was beginning to make a lot more sense.I couldn’t wait to get to the bit where for a small fee he would send me a copy of the minutes of every board meeting.It was all so open and honest.
What a plan! You only buy players for as little as you can get them for and only buy players who are guaranteed to be major successes for 10 or 12 years.I was thinking “don’t tell anybody else about this JW let’s keep it to ourselves”
And then just like the JW’s who knock at my door there’s always a tiny mistake that brings me back to my senses.My mind starts to wander.I start to think about the big money signings that some teams have made over the last few years who turned out to be duds.And the teams that came to mind were the likes of ManU,Chelsea and City.
Yes! That’s when I came to my senses.The very teams who have been winning everything over the past few years have bought more than just a few duds in the process but just got on with it.
Oh! JW! You nearly had me there!
FSG are imperfect owners – fine. There are worse out there but they do need to sort out this plague of mistakes in and around the business end of the club. They are absolutely accountable for the lack of leadership at board level on Merseyside. Many are ready to throw Ian Ayre under the next passing double decker but I think we ought to be recognising that FSG have asked Ayre to work way outside of his original remit and skillset.
I know there are reasons, I understand we’re still suffering from remnants of H&G, Roy, Kenny’s errors and Comolli…the club is still riddled with expensive assets that are value-less to otherwise potential suitors. But, the one thing I am the most disappointed with is that LFC were, once again, trying to do such key deals in the last hours of a 2month+ transfer window. I thought we were better than that.
We can’t expect llorente et al, i understand that
What we do expect is people who know what they are doing.
Transfer deadline day is organised chaos , ours was just chaos.
its not about the individual players mentioned on friday, its the actual process, miss-communication and downright incompetence once again shows the the world that operationally LFC are a joke, and the fallout of this is the actions of the club have severely damaged the team and the field.
In many ways this is why I did not see the need to replace Kenny. Another poor season and I am sure he would have walked, however, there is so much operationally to be put in place that some stability would not have been a bad thing.
From day 1 BR wanted rid of Carroll, this must have been mentioned during the interview in which case this needs to be managed, and it has not been. In the same way that someone should have stepped in and told Torres you are not going until the summer or we keep the money until the summer, because Carroll was injured at the time. These are all board CEO decisions and should be taken out of the hands of the dof
I’m not sure why people were unhappy with the letter. It was clear and made sense. They basically said:
“Lots of efforts were made to get a striker, but we failed because FSG won’t get burnt on transfers+wages as they have done for Downing, Henderson, Carroll et al. We’ve got good players in, kept our best players and spent a chunk of money – money which we’ll happily spend again to the benefit of the longterm project. We did all this with close feedback from BR as to what he wants, and hopefully FFP comes in strong soon and gives us an extra justification. We made mistakes in the past and have no desire to make them again. We have also put in place much of the structure we wanted, turned the club’s finances around and have done everything with strong deference to the much-emphasised ‘Liverpool way’ and the goal of winning the league. But winning will take many years, not 16 weeks.”
Fine. This is a season of transition. We knew it’d be hard. We just didn’t know how determined BR/FSG were to treat the season as transitional. We must admit it makes business sense. Our chief scouting force is still to come in and spending money on their recommendations is better than spending it now. Europa is far from a cashcow. Carroll’s skill level (and demonstrable value) will be improved by regular play, and he doesn’t move enough for BR to play him regularly. Playing players regularly who do suit BR (Sterling, Assaidi, Borini… maybe Yesil, Morgan, Pachecho… hopefully Suso, Sinclair… Ngoo) and loaning our Carroll is smarter for the longterm if BR won’t play him.
Finally (and apologies for the regular posts — there’s a lot of pessimism around to fight against), individuals not scoring goals is a mental thing more than a technical thing – we should be able to coach the goals back into players. Suarez, Gerrard, Downing, Borini, Allen, Sahin, Johnson, Agger, Skrtel – even Cole once upon a time – have all scored relatively regularly at the top level. The problem is how the team is linking up due to new systems, and then the mental barrier when we do get chances. False 9s/non-striker-formations can work. Hopefully it works soon for us so all this pessimism simmers down.
To the positivists :
My instincts too have been to generally trust and like FSG (John Henry in particular). The problem is that when resources become scarce no owner is going to look good in front of the fans. I think we can all live with money being tight, as long as its all club revenues are being exhausted for the good of the team.
What owners seem prone to doing, when money is not so abundant , though, is to hide behind disingenuous excuses such as ‘we won’t overpay for players with no resale value’ and other such convenient maxims.
We need the whole truth because no ‘principle’ excuses the leaving of the squad as thin as it is. Those who think some of us are doom mongering here need to imagine what we will look like on the back of a routine ‘injury crisis’. Agger, Johnson and Gerrard can usually be trusted to spend a month on the sidelines, at least. Throw in an injury to Suarez and we’re putting out a team that will struggle to win premiership matches. In the cups we’ll be fielding out Nextgen level teams.
The point of my piece wasn’t about Clint Dempsey. It was about a transfer window where the priorities were to sign strikers and wingers, and we ended up losing 3 strikers (Kuyt, Bellamy and Carroll) and one wide man (Maxi) and replaced them with……Borini.
Just quickly on the young guns, I watched the U21s against Citeh on Monday and Wisdom had Scott Sinclair in his pocket most of the match. He looks like a decent physical specimen for a 19 year old, gets forward very well in the games I’ve seen and I think he could be knocking on the door sooner rather than later. He looks at least as good as Flanagan, Robinson and Kelly for my money.
£6m was there from the following deals:
1.Dirk Kuyt sale
2.Andy Carroll loan (£2mil)
3.Charlie Adams sale (£4mil)
4.Craig Bellamy sale
5.Maxi Rodriguez sale
BOSS we had money and Dempsey is no other 29 year old-he is America (was good for our brand), he WANTED & WAITED for us and he only played professionally at 21years (prolonged play life).
Reina should have been left to go-Vorm(Swansea is better) and Gerrard should sit on the bench(Shelvey is coming up well and you are better with mistakes done by someone learning than someone retiring).
We also should have let Agger go(I know this is controversial); we should have accepted a deal £23mil including Adam Johnson and gone to Europe to get a defender eventhough I still think Coates can come right with plenty of games.
Sahin will be massive-I pray he stays beyond this season.
Allen is what we have been looking for after Alonso’s departure.
Sterling is 10 times better than down and Enrique combined-he has a head on his shoulders.
Borini is played wrong-I like his off the ball running and I think he is more prolific than what we have seen-play him as a centre forward-see what Shane Long(Wes Brom) does-he does not necessarily score lots of goals but he is a nuisance to defenders.
I HONESTLY like BR but FSG has really left me disappointed.
So your plan was to ditch Reina, Agger and Gerrard? I really don’t see how we’d be looking in better shape with the spine ripped out of the side however slow some of those players have started this season. In fact, I’d be genuinely worried. Not ‘we don’t stand a chance of top four’ worried, but ‘scrapping with Villa to avoid the third too_good_to_go_down relegation spot’ worried.
we didnt buy a striker, which is a hugh cock up that is going to cost us a lot of money to put right in jan. but what worried me just as much over the weekend was the inexplicable omission of adam morgan from the bench. fair enough the manager doesnt want to place to much pressure on the young lads shoulders, but muck fe, last 20 mins at 2-0 down wouldn’t hurt would it. you never know with him being a genuine centre forward he may have got on the score sheet. maybe twice god forbid.
I can’t say for sure, of course, but more I think of it, more it seems that demonstrating the striker-less bench on Sunday, as well as unwilling to switch Suarez and Borini positions despite it was clear to all that it was not working, was a deliberate political move by BR, like look what we’ve got: nothing.
Of course it turned the public opinion away from his own shortcomings during this transfer window, and against “greedy FSG” and Ian Ayre.
Brendan should really take a long hard look at himself for devaluing the players who were bought for big money, by refusing to integrate them into system, but instead basically stating publicly that they are not really part of his plans, or offering them as makewheights for Dempsey, and by that, also forcing FSG’s hand to sign cheques.
If anything was achieved is that Carroll is now WHU player, and Henderson, Downing and Enrique now feel they are not valued by the manager. Hardly a great start. FSG refused to be forced into something they disagreed with, and we’ve got what we’ve got.
They all should find some common strategy ASAP, but do it quietly. They all should better not talk that much about their plans to the press. The Liverpool Way is becoming some sort of a proverbial joke when they keep mentioning it.
I am far from seeing any malice there, in both BR and FSG actions, I rather think they were all naive and failed to act as a team. I really hope they learn from their mistakes and do not repeat them again.
What is FSG’s expectation in terms of points total or position for the season? Has the transfer window changed those expectations and if so, by how many points/places?
Absolutely love the article and you’re spot on.
Just one point – the official LFC TV Channel, didn’t cut the transmission short when Ayre left the building (although I wish they had). They carried on pretty much till the 11pm deadline, and started to preview the upcoming game and ignored the lack of signings.
Credit to David Fairclough and Roy Evans who both lost interest, and you could tell wanted to get off home, but they carried on till the bitter end. Was one of the weirdest pieces of TV I’ve ever seen.
Totally agree with some of the comments that there’s a number of people to blame for where we are today inc. the new manager. I find it difficult to understand why he’s publicly devalued players such as Henderson, Downing, Carroll, Adam, et al. You only have to look at Wolves as an example of how to play the transfer game. They’ve managed to screw every last ‘£’ out of West Ham and Sunderland even when they’ve been relegated.
Ultimately this is a failure in leadership, and someone at the top should be held accountable whether that’s FSG or Ayre – I don’t care. I can’t believe the whole seasons been put in jeopardy because of ‘Black Friday’.
Last year Kenny lost his job over the media fallout following the Suarez incident. I think the media fallout and fan reaction amongst the Liverpool fanbase is far greater and we do need answers.
The above is from the Stoke City 2012 squad list. Count em up lads, they’ve got six strikers. 6. All of them ‘No.9’s’, all of them over 21, 5 of them with international pedigree. This is Stoke City, not the third most decorated club in European history.
Whilst Friday was the new dictionary definition of compounding previous mistake, our lack of striking options has been self evident (at least to me) since Rafa (whilst presumably being sold a pup) let Keane (and Pennant) go without the luxury of replacements. Remeber – it was Torres or Ngog, and often Ngog (not a bad 4th option striker, young, with potential etc.). Meanwhile Man U’s 3rd striking option is Englands No.1 No.9.
BTW brilliant piece Rob and brilliant podcast on Monday
Key line (for me) from the open letter:
“Our ambitions do not lie in cementing a mid-table place with expensive, short-term quick fixes that will only contribute for a couple of years.”
My concern, does that mean they are willing to accept finishing in the bottom half of the table to get the finances straightened out? Cause that’s what it sound like.
If that happens will they continue to support Rodgers? If that happens will the fans accept it? If that happens will LFC be able to sign any decent players in the summer, even if the money is available?
I’m wondering and thinking about something he said, that
“if you’re better than the other team with the ball, you’ll win the game 79% of the time”.
It’s not really the same as the stat which he might have gotten it from, that 79% of the time the team with more possession wins.
Doesn’t mean that the wins are caused by possession though! Though tiki taka at the highest level naturally is a sound football concept, it’s not as simple as that.
Especially when a lot of possession is sterile, as Swansea were criticised for last season.
But cheers to BR, and may we see better days ahead.
Great article summing up the feelings of LFC supporters on deadline day. I hope some of the hierarchy get the chance to read this.
Every transfer window, the same thing happens. The man we detest most (Fergie) keeps his gob shut, buys a couple of key players quickly and lets the spares go as it suits him. Are we too proud to learn from him?
On the positive side of things, now our much hyped youth players can see a path to the first team, not blocked by good but older players on vast sums of cash.
in the short term, there is going to be some pain. some dreadful performances and some thumpings from random mid table dross, 5 live will be awash with whingers.
Hopefully, just as with sterling, once there are no recently purchased players that a manager has to justify, blocking first team action, some kids will step up to the bushy plate and drink from the furry goblet.
Rafa said about 3 .5 years ago that ‘in 2 and a half years time the best of these kids will be ready’.
Since then we’ve lost ince , he looks pretty good, could go either way but better to have than to have not, and sterling’s people had started to make noises about game time. then theres the fulham deal(excuse me while i vomit).
loosing frustrated youth players because they never get a chance is not a trap we want to fall into,least not because it makes the whole youth set up pointless.
The kids have the hunger and infectious determination that spreads around, as opposed to the heavy drinking wide boy who’s on 75k per week and playing poorly/rarely fit lumbering around reminding us of our mistakes.
i would much rather have clint on board than not, i think he would have been a perfect fit under BR. he’s strong, he keeps the ball well, can play in 3 positions AND scores and creates goals.
while i do see the logic in not paying more for him than other clubs, its also understandable that fulham were peeved after the ‘exclusive’ report on clint having signed for us by FSG’S media arm earlier in the summer.
FSG are as at fault for that particular issue, perhaps more than anyone else, and that is the cause of most the problem as far as us signing clint goes.
Tapping up will never go down well, especially when it makes your star player want to sit out in protest.
For the next 4 months at least, there are places in the first team up for grabs. it may only be in the worthless mug or the europa league, but should anyone impress enough in those, they could instantly find themselves , like sterling, as a dead cert for the most important matches. from zero to hero in the space of a few weeks.
what better incentive could there be?
While i dont see more than a handful making the step up, even if only 1 or 2 more do, we’ll have saved ourselves 20/30m. Sterling could be worth 20m by the end of the season for all we know. would things be the same if kenny had stayed?
Kenny’s spend on british stodge has set us back a few years, he is as much to blame for this mess as FSG, yet his name still gets chanted every game. his legend status and emotional connection to the club cant ever be eroded but people need to be a bit more realistic. the mistakes have generally been shared and kenny made 4 big ones in the transfer market alone. trying to recreate blackburn 95 with carroll as sutton and downing as ripley was as misguided as letting souness buy dicks and paul stewart.
SG have made mistakes, big ones, but they also do try to put stuff right fairly quickly. As they will put right the lack of strikers come january when llorente and theos contracts are down to 6 months, and sturridge is bored of the bench.
By then we could get llorente for as little as 7m and theo for around the same. 14m…the cost of clint in fee’s/wages over his 3 year contract+++
The next 4 months look best put down to experience, but this time with a solid reason for doing so. Brave new world’s are not always pretty.
What a boring article.
How much, do you think, were we duped into believing all the tabloid gossip about who we were ‘on the verge’ of signing? Walcott, for me, was always a long-shot and, as much as I liked the idea of Sturridge, I never thought he would leave a club playing in the Champions League for us. Maybe they weren’t ready to sign for us and FSG took the heat for that?
And the fact that we offered Henderson in a swap for Dempsey proves that the cash just wasn’t there. That would have been a complete disaster if that had pulled off.
I can’t blame FSG for tightening the purse-strings after last year’s disastrous transfer policy under Dalglish and Commoli.
At least now we can try out Suso, Morgan, Pacheco, Joe Cole, Assaidi and Sterling. And stick Gerrard on the right-side of the front three where he always have been played.
Nothing good will come of bleating about how bad the transfer window was for us. Just get behind the team, which will need all the support it can get.
Super Cup Final was at the Stade Louis 2 not the Stade Vélodrome (in Marseille) ;-)