IN an age of entrenched opinion and polarised viewpoints, I think we can all agree that the worst person ever to have lived is Jessie J.
Jessie J, with her faux humility and her emotional hollowness and her hair and her pants. Look at me, she insists. Look at me, as I warble excruciatingly around the scale with all the subtlety of a lump hammer to the goolies. Look at me, as I pointedly waft my face with my hands to make bloody sure you don’t miss the sincerity of my non-existent tears.
Really, you don’t want to get me started on this. I can already feel my hackles rising. And I don’t even know what a hackle is. Some kind of vegetable, I imagine. It’s almost as if a 48-year-old man with a mortgage and a Leonard Cohen fixation isn’t her intended target audience.
But, in amongst the narcissism and the generic banality, she got one thing right. And it’s a thing that provides a tenuous, though prescient, link to any piece about expensive yet manifestly talented footballers, much like this one.
“Forget about the price tag,” she howled, like a faulty smoke alarm.
It’s something we’re not very good at. We obsess over transfer fees. We agonise over a million pounds here and a million pounds there, as though we’re the ones signing the cheques. Which, in a roundabout way, I suppose we are. Though I expect in this day and age multinational football clubs have devised a more sophisticated payment method than one which entails waiting five working days for a crumpled cheque to clear. Probably PayPal or something, I don’t know.
The point, if there is one, is this. It’s dull. Football finances are dull. Unless you’re an accountant, in which case the prospect of a fresh balance sheet to pore over acts as some kind of fiscal Viagra.
But as the game has expanded and the commercial impetus has become the primary driver, via lucrative sponsorship opportunities, astronomic salaries, obscene broadcasting deals and spiralling ticket prices, financial concerns have become embedded in the football supporter’s psyche. It’s the way we look at players now. We talk earnestly of sell-on values and depreciation like we’re on commission from AutoTrader.
And while I understand the logic and the necessity of clubs maintaining a sound economic platform, it’s not what first captures a child’s imagination or inspires the kind of songs that can make a stadium crackle with communal defiance.
Naïve, maybe. But if the alternative is to approach the game with the jaded, joyless agenda of the football monetarist, like a human version of George Osborne, then I’m happy to wear my naivety like a badge.
It ain’t about the (uh) cha-ching cha-ching. It ain’t about the (yeah) ba-bling ba-bling.
Testify, Jessie. Testify.
So. Adam Lallana, then. Here’s someone who could well become an integral part of the Liverpool set-up for the next few years. Someone who is clearly a very good footballer; who, after a disjointed start to his Anfield career, is quietly adjusting to the demands of life at one of the game’s major forces. Someone with the facial hair of a sixth former trying to get served in Wetherspoons for the first time.
True, he hasn’t consistently set the ground alight like a Coutinho or a Sterling. He hasn’t acquired the cult following of a Can. But the signs are there. The confidence in possession, the ability to carry the ball into the heart of the opposition back-line. And the lovely feet. Don’t underestimate the loveliness of his feet.
The problem, and it’s a depressingly common one, is that whenever Lallana fails to shine the familiar grumbles start to appear.
Not worth the money.
You’d expect more from someone we paid £25 million for.
We could have got Costa/Shaqiri /Reus/Hibbert for that kind of cash.
Arguments we heard throughout Jordan Henderson’s first couple of seasons. Arguments that don’t really have anything to do with what goes on on a football pitch.
Out of interest, what would an acceptable fee have been for someone like Lallana? An established international. A club captain. A player who can make a difference in games.
£10 million? £15 million? Maybe £20 million? At what point do you decide a line has been crossed? At what precise point do you allow a player’s transfer fee to dictate your reaction to him, to colour your thinking so much that it can be pulled out as a stick to beat him with whenever he fails to reach the standards you have arbitrarily set for him.
I’m not sure how it’s meant to work. It just seems a bit odd to me.
For what it’s worth, I’m decidedly pro-Lallana. I like his movement and his knack of finding space between the lines. I’m hugely impressed by his two-footedness. His first touch is a joy. Face it, we’ve all tried to emulate that trademark turn where he receives a ball to feet, instantly Cruyffs it and pirouettes in one movement, then moves away in full command of the play, no doubt cackling like a demented gibbon. Put him alongside Coutinho and you’ve got two players with genuine game intelligence who, more than anything else, challenge opponents to react, to devise a way to limit their effectiveness. No team likes having to deal with clever players. It’s way too inconvenient.
At 26, it feels like Lallana is approaching what should be his peak footballing years. This, too, is a good thing. With the imminent departure of Steven Gerrard, and, potentially, Johnson, Enrique, Lucas, Toure and Lambert, next season’s squad could find itself shorn of experienced players. While Lallana may not have been operating at the top level for too long, it’s important to have a blend of potential and maturity in your ranks. Alan Hansen’s famous, “You can’t win anything with kids” remark, one notable outlier aside, reflects a broad reality that still stands.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to claim that Lallana excels every time he pulls the red shirt on. There have been a fair few occasions where he has struggled to impose himself on the game, where his impact appears too easily negated. It is then that he appears a luxury too far. That he looks a bit overawed by the weight of responsibility associated with playing for Liverpool.
And, as some never tire of observing, he lacks real pace. The kind of pace that allows you to take opponents out of the game, opening up the pitch and unbalancing even the most rigid defensive plan. Quick newsflash, lads. Did you ever see Dalglish play? Or Beardsley? Or Fowler? None of them could outsprint a trifle, yet their awareness of everything around them, their anticipation and timing, made them a nightmare to play against. Lallana may not be in that class, but I’m happy to have someone who offers craft and technical aptitude as a default starting point. It makes us a more interesting team.
71 – Adam Lallana created 71 chances (incl. assists) during the 2013/14 Premier League; more than any other English player. Spark.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 30, 2014
The biggest concern about Adam Lallana is one that only Brendan Rodgers can resolve. Exactly how do you fit him into the team?
He has, thus far, looked most comfortable playing behind a lone striker, with the freedom to drift in from wide areas and dovetail with Coutinho and Sterling. We saw it in the win over Manchester City, when his commitment and gnarliness revealed another side to his game, and in his two-goal performance against Swansea at Christmas. The return to fitness of Sturridge, as well as Gerrard’s impending swansong, makes it difficult to accommodate all three without shifting someone to the nominal wing-back role. Lallana appears ill-suited to this.
Perhaps we need to appreciate the value of a deep squad, something we lacked last season, and accept that the notion of a first choice starting eleven is an outdated one. Having quality options available allows rotation of players, even systems, with no noticeable fall-off in performance levels. Adam Lallana may not start every game, but nor will Sterling, nor will Ibe, nor will Coutinho, nor will Allen. When called on, though, it’s essential we can rely on each to understand their role and to slot in with minimal disruption to the team aesthetic. Going forward, Lallana could have a fundamental part to play in how this Liverpool team develops. You can’t put a price on that.
Jessie J knew the score. Perhaps I was too harsh on her. I feel bad about all that stuff now.
Don’t talk to me about Ed Sheeran, though. He can sod right off. Knobhead.
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda
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Very good . I will have to check out this jesse j woman so I can dislike her too.
Is she as annoying as Cilla and Lulu?
Instructive how the list of our 15 most expensive players just about perfectly supports the old adage about 50% of transfers being failures.
As for Lallana… he fits nicely into our squad .Skilful , reliable , hardworking, versatile and capable of turning a game on occasion. Let us revel in the squad Brendan is building and have loads and loads of patience.Remember how players like Henderson and Allen have been whipping boys in some quarters but have gone on to shine. Same with our young manager too. Don’t be surprised if the likes of Markovic come to the fore next season. Patience and time.
Back to the garage now , an Humber Super Snipe to fix.
If its not about the money then where is your defence of Carroll or are we just meant to forget about the treatment Liverpool and most of the fans gave him, fact is lallana isn’t worth 26 mill and yet people give him time and support when he’s offered very little, shame Carroll wasn’t afforded the same support by liverpool, the fans and what is becoming more apparent our two faced manager ( ask agger, suso, sahin, Carroll, downing and prob many more of Rodgers flops which there are many)
are you really this stupid? why even talk about Carroll the donkey who can’t even stay fit for more then 2 weeks.
Thing is, Lallana plays in the style that Rodgers wants, a passing style, a more Liverpool style that goes with the history and will provide the success, in the long run, that we need. As an aside from this piece, I worry that we only get into our stride in the second half of the season, obviously the sooner we’re in our stride the better!
Andy Carroll was shite. Never a Liverpool player in a million years. Not all his fault, just a very, very bad signing. There was no way we were ever going to get our money back on him. Possibly the worst bit of business the club has engaged in. Only the Aquaman comes close. I can’t imagine what the club’s strategy was when they signed him, Kenny was preaching pass and move at the time but signed a player that could neither pass or move. Lallana looks like a Liverpool player, time will tell whether he makes it or not.
Still, its never good to see or hear the crowd turning on a player. That I’ll grant you, and you can never blame a player for the price tag.
Who is Jessie J?
Very good article; love the writing style. Will be back to read more!
The price tag will always be important because clubs have finite resources. Paying 10 million above Lallana’s worth means LFC didn’t have that extra 10 million to top up its other funds in order to go out and spend on a better marquee player. We don’t know what actually went on behind the scenes but perhaps if we negotiated Lallana’s fee at a more sensible 15 million, instead of penny pinching on the 16m Balotelli bargain we could have gone for a 26m splurge on Bony.
If Lallana was the only player available for sale on the market then the 25m fee would have been irrelevant for the supporter. But he damn well wasn’t and it’s clear we could have used that money much better to spend on higher quality players if we were determined.
Damning fact: Griezman and Mandzukic were bought by Atletico Madrid for the same combined fees that we spent on Balotelli and Lallana.
You might say that even if we had enough funds, Mandzukic or Griezman would never have chosen Simeone over Rodgers. But maybe if we had saved 10 million on Lallana’s fee, that 10 million could have been allocated towards extra wages for a player like Mandzukic or Griezman instead of us paying extra on Lallana and ending up scrapping for a lower quality bargain priced striker like Balotelli who we made take a pay cut.
If FSG told the fans that the club had unlimited funds to spend on players then no one would care about the price tag. I’m sure Chelsea fans under Abrahmovic in the years before FFP was implemented didn’t care at all about the price tag. That was because they knew if they didn’t get value for money on one player who flopped then they had the money to go out and spend again until they got it right.
LFC are not in that financial situation. Therefore the price tag will always be important because it is the difference between us overspending on Lallana and saving up those funds to go after a proper marquee signing. Price tag determines how many players we buy and what quality of players we end up buying overall. If we don’t debate the price tag, we might as well not debate transfer rumours and bids at all.
You nailed it. Transfer fees matter because what it means for the club’s finances. We aren’t ManU, City or Chelsea. Even if we had the money we wouldn’t spend it willy-nilly like those clubs. So we need to be smart about how we spend it. It also highlights the problem of buying a lot from other EPL clubs. You’re going to overpay because all things being equal they would rather not help out their enemies. Twitter people I talked to last summer could tell you how much I wanted Mario Mandžukić. And he was bought for €22 million. A proven goal scorer! Did we even inquire about him? Or was he set on playing for Simeone?
Not sure about that. Fowler had some pace and when he lost it due to injuries he was never the same player. It’s fine that Lallana does not have pace, but he is not near the technical levels of players like Deco, Pirlo, etc. He also doesn’t really make a difference too often with an end product and isn’t a mainstay in the starting 11. I understand the need to have a flexible starting 11, but if you pay 25 million for a player he should be first on your team sheet. Lallana is never going to be worth the money, but if it makes you feel better not putting any emotion into club finances so be it. Like Olisa pointed out, LFC don’t have a big net spend under FSG so every million counts.
This year’s Harry Kewell.
No doubt Lallana is a tidy player but a few things frustrate like 10 touches when one will do, slowing down the play and lack of pace which ironically Rodger loves as we love to counter attack.
Are Southampton the new Wimbledon in that their players look great, they get sold at stupid prices but soon you find out they aren’t all that great? I’d really wouldn’t bother me if all 3 signed from Soton last season were sold in the summer. Maybe give Lallana one more year but does he have the ability or mental toughness to play for LFC???
Why is the author trying to compare him with Henderson ? there is no comparison to make. If Brendan didn’t know where Lallana fits into his team before he brought him than why buy him?
“Going forward, Lallana could have a fundamental part to play in how this Liverpool team develops. You can’t put a price on that.”
Yep. He _could_. It’s possible.
You can put a price on that. It’s what we paid for him up front and his weekly wages.
We paid a combined 50 million quid for Lallana, Lovren and Lambert. Add 20 million GBP for Markovic (whom few defend, unlike Lallana, and I am one of them) plus 12 million quid for Moreno plus 16 million quid for Balotelli plus roughly 10 million quid for Can. A total of 108 million quid on new players.
No amount of circumlocution and irrelevant (sorry) distractions (stories about Jessie J. whoever the eff he/she is) can undo those combined decisions. Money well spent? Good value for the money expended? Ok, sure.
I laughed a great deal.
The price seems ridiculous for someone who is essentially a squad player, but in a world where Shane Long is deemed to be worth £12 million it’s more of a reflection of the silly money available in the league.
Unlike say Coutinho or Henderson, Lallana wasn’t bought for potential- his peak years are now. He’s very unlikely to displace Coutinho or Sterling in the starting line up in the future (or even now perhaps), but his value is in his ability to play across the front three/four. For clubs competing on multiple fronts, players who can slot into a system as and when they’re required are crucial.
I like Jessie J. Writes her own stuff and has a phenomenal live voice, whatever anyone thinks of her style. Genuinely talented unlike a lot of the manufactured shite that’s out there. Promotes a positive message for your girls that doesn’t exclusively trade on her sexuality – yes, I’m looking at you Nicki Minaj.
Don’t be ragging on my Jessie.
Great article, other than that.
It’s all about contribution isn’t it?
Apps: 26(23) 20(18)
Goals: 4 4
Ass: 4 3
Chances created: 38 28
Shots: 41(23) 19(11)
Convers. rat. 10% 21%
Thought Jessie j got off lightly
Good at retaining and circulating possession – but does it even when a quicker ball is needed. Would like to see him in the box more, on a ‘late run’. Must be the most lightweight/least combative squad member by a good margin.