Mirror Mirror On The Wall…

Your football club, it gets up in the morning, and once it’s just about regained some idea of where it is, it rolls to its feet, picks its boxer shorts out of its arse, and staggers to the bathroom mirror.

Maybe it does all this with a little Gareth Cheeseman-style affirmation in its mind. “I’m a Tiger”, says Hull FC. “No, you’re not”, says the mirror in cold harsh judgement.

Some clubs wake and stare bleakly at their reflection, seeing the brutal truth of what confronts them, warts and all. Others, not so much.

Take Real Madrid, for instance. Real Madrid flounces out of silk sheets, naked save for its platinum crucifix and single diamond studded ear, and tells the mirror “It’s all about the glory for me. I exist to dominate the footballing world. To dominate it with panache and verve.”

Unflinching, the mirror replies, “No. You exist simply as a vehicle to express how audacious and clever a sequence of powerful Spanish businessmen are every half a dozen years. Your entire business model is itself an expression of how audacious and clever one of those businessmen was and is. The fact that it prevents you from dominating the football world, let alone with panache and verve, never seems to occur to you.”

Take Arsenal. Arsenal’s bleary sleeping giant’s eyes scan the room, a room boasting all mod cons, all state of the art fixtures and fittings, the cupboards and shelves bare, mind, but the HP all but paid off, and as it shuffles to the en-suite, it triest to muster some notion of what it is and why it exists.

“I’m a strong, integrated machine. I run on rails. I absorb youth and promise and churn out… ehm… I generate profit and am financially stable enough to pay my bills and… ahem… I.. I… A special spirit exists here, a special bond… ehm… where am I?”

If you’re the mirror, what do you see? A club that exists to secure a Champions League qualification spot by the skin of its teeth each May? A club that wows the footballing world with its youth team’s salutary run in the League Cup until the winter months kick in? A club of premium priced perenneal promise, but never the actual money shot?

Real Madrid. Why are they buying Bale? Is it because they want to dominate? Is it because they want to keep up with Barca? Or as much as either of those things, is it because they’ve built themselves such a retail juggernaut that recruiting a footballer becomes a business case rather than a footballing decision? That’s a question Liverpool fans are increasingly familiar with. Some have reluctantly accepted the necessity. Others aren’t quite as convinced.

To personify your club in this way is to be as brutally honest as you can muster, isn’t it? And possibly it’s a little rich for a Liverpool fan to pen a piece like this, given, if you believe the fans of other clubs, our almost unrivalled capacity for self-delusion.

The point is, this summer brings us to a point where the hype and the substance have got to start to tally. Where the rhetoric must start to really meet the reality. We need definitive proof beyond the hints and suggestions.

The pursuit of Mkhtaryan was exciting, wasn’t it? But just how real was it? The reality is we’re a hop and a skip from the start of the season with more tall tales of miscreant Brazilians, but as yet, too few meaningful scarves being held above heads.

Why does LFC exist? Are we really in it to win trophies? Have we regained some semblance if a joined up plan, both on and off the pitch? Hints and debates abound, but where’s the definitive proof?

FSG have never been short on rhetoric, but the month to come will see fans drawing their own conclusions. 2013 has been refreshing thus far. January brought the kind of promise we’d long since forgotten existed. The months beyond it showed glimpses of the kind of football we’ve long believed is our birthright. And since the end of last season, we’ve seen a summer of promise, with exciting pursuits, a few early successes, and a few high profile near misses (or so they seemed). But the weeks to come will underline how serious the club’s owners are. They’ll send a message that’ll resound for longer than they maybe realise – that’s how it seems at least.

There are plenty of Liverpudlians who, like many of the Arsenal fans, believe we’re being led along the garden path. Whether they’re right or not should become a little clearer shortly.

Here’s hoping FSG give good face.


  1. Spot on sir, it’s now judgement time for FSG. Ok some of us get the fact that the club was broken badly by regimes prior to FSG. Comolli was a big mistake by FSG and a damaging one but it’s time to move on from that and back Brendan Rodgers fully in this window to give him the proper tools for a tilt at the title.

  2. Look, truth be told, I’ve been really happy with Rodgers and so far I have been really happy with the way this window has been handled.

    But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned about the thought that FSG will just stop here and say “that’s your fill” .

    As much as it pains me to harp on about the net spend element, but it has been basically non existent. We are actually in a position where we look to be making a profit on player transfers this window, and that scares me because we need real investment now! I genuinely believe that this year can be the year where we rocket up the ladder by investing in the first 11 now.

    But I’d like to leave you all with my piece on something I think Liverpool has done well this year. Bringing fans together from across the sea.


  3. Great piece but have to disagree with the Critical FSG outlook regarding spending…
    They have backed both Kenny and now Rodgers but both have failed to take the club into the Top 4 so I do not believe it is their fault.

    Maybe the selection of coaches is down to their lack of experience but it be good to assess if LFC since FSG took over have ever spent so much money both interms of Gross and Net…

    If LFC fail this season it will not be down to lack of funds but the manager and his players…

    • I don’t think the net figures are at all that impressive. It generally comes out to around 20-30 million a year. Which is a problem when you’ve fallen behind, and need to play catch up.

      That’s not to say that I’m not happy with the way the squad is coming together, but, it’s just not being done with the biggest amount of investment you’ll ever see.

    • Sorry – they appointed Comolli, they should hold their hands up, admit they p*ssed money away thanks to their raw stupidity, and back the new manager and the new committee. As Roy says, they’ve been good on rhetoric, including telling us they would scour the world for a cutting edge CEO.

  4. I Think Rodgers has a net spend close to £70 million thats not too shabby even after the Gross spent amount…!!

    If its a critical period for FSG then it is the same for Rodgers also, he is making some big calls and its about time that “Guruspeak” was more channeled with on field progress and the Top 4..Jury out on both owner and coach but more so far on BR, I think FSG regardless of their faults and lack of football nous have provided Funds,,we have never been a club that have spent 50-60 million net..but we still achieved some success…The ither issue with Rodgers is that he aint a big name to attract star quality,,hence we cannot really sign big names…

  5. There is no way that Rodgers has spent 70 million net. He hasn’t even spent that as a gross figure yet.

  6. Neb it was close to £50 Million net after Sturridge and Coutinho in January…please do your research..either way he has been backed..by FSG..infact since Fenway took over , its pretty much been the most significant and largest investment period in the clubs history..regarding transfers…

  7. Nice Article Roy, looking forward to the next one. Unfortunately for Liverpool, we cannot buy our way out of our current malaise like man city or chelsea, we have to be sensible in everything we do or sustainable.
    Even with a reasonable net spend of 20-30 million per season, there are a number of issues Liverpool have to contend with in terms of attracting top players such as we haven’t been in the champions league for a number of years which has diminished our reputation.
    The other is the emergence of clubs like man city and chelsea which have distorted transfer budgets, transfer fees and players wages, which makes it difficult to compete, never mind catch up with them. The other factor is Brendan Rodgers who is an up and coming manager and who doesn’t have the reputation to attract the top players or convince them of his “project”

    The first two factors FSG cannot do anything about, unless they sell the club. But the third they could rectify by hiring a Director of football such as Kenny or Gerard Houllier or someone outside of the club like a Louis van Gaal or of that ilk, to give more credence to the project.
    I am aware Brendan won’t work under a Director of Football but they don’t have to have that particular title.
    Until these factors are addressed we will have to rely on signing emerging players and promoting youth team players to restore Liverpool to former glories which is a very slow process.

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