LFC Twitter got very excited last night. All it took was a few encouraging words from esteemed journalist Paul Joyce of the Daily Express and we were all a flutter. Back pages were being photographed and shared, pages were being refreshed rapidly waiting for the 10:30 embargo and both journalist and player were soon trending. Mario Gotze might just come to The Reds.
No matter how many times you tell yourself not to get excited over transfer stories, no matter how many times you tell yourself one player can’t change a whole team, no matter how many times a player comes and disappoints, it doesn’t seem to matter.
We jump head first each time for the right lad.
The kind of lad who has scored the winner in a World Cup final. Those lads do it to you, regardless of how many times you have seen him or whether he is getting a game at his current club or not.
He might not come, of course. He might realise the fella who isn’t picking him is leaving in the summer anyway so he could just hang on and see what the next fella thinks. He might get offered £100million a day to play in China. But if he does it is a huge statement of intent by club and manager. Forget what might have gone on, we mean business now.
Signings like this can be massive for a new manager. It raises everyone — from the directors who appointed him who want a slap on the back to the fans looking for the next messiah to the players who want reassurances they are at the right place.
In Guillem Balague’s book about the 2004-05 season A Season On The Brink, Guillem talks about how Rafa Benitez used to keep Steven Gerrard informed of all potential signings, to make him feel important.
When Liverpool signed Fernando Morientes from Real Madrid Rafa asked Stevie: “So, what do you think? Didn’t I promise you this? This is the kind of signing you wanted the club to make, isn’t it?”
Unfortunately we don’t have a player of Gerrard’s stature at the club at the moment. But some at the club still might be wondering if they could be better off elsewhere.
Recruiting Jürgen Klopp helps with this massively. Klopp going after the likes of Mario Gotze helps even more.
Instead of Liverpool players jogging up to their mates at England training and asking, “So, what’s it like at Chelsea?” suddenly others are coming to them and saying, “Did you see you might be getting Gotze?”
Morientes didn’t end up setting the world alight at Liverpool, but it did help reinforce the belief that Liverpool was a club going places — that it was a club that mattered in modern football.
Morientes couldn’t even play in the Champions League, but he may have even contributed to the win through his experience of being their before, through his advice, and simply through the buzz the players got from training next to him every day. Or maybe by keeping star men like Steven Gerrard focused and optimistic. This is what big players do.
Morientes was past his best when he arrived, but Mario Gotze will be just 24 this summer, so he should be able to contribute much more. But maybe he’ll pay for himself before he’s even kicked a ball. There is a feel-good factor that arrives with a new manager that can quickly leave. Signings like this would certainly keep the Klopp factor flying high for a while longer yet.
You sense that Jurgen Klopp is a manager who understands the emotions of a football club. He will want to sign Gotze because he is a brilliant footballer but he will also know it will turn heads around the world.
You sense that is why he wants these big ties in the Europa League, too. He wants to show everyone, inside and outside the club, that Liverpool play in games that matter. That attracts footballers to you. It also makes the ones here realise they might have to work a bit harder if they want to play here next season.
As I said, I try not to get carried away with transfers. I like coaching and tactics and player development. Mario Gotze though. There are always exceptions. He might even make the sun shine.
The secret soundtrack to Liverpool’s Istanbul success
I MENTIONED that Fernando Morientes might have had a minor impact on our Champions League win in 2005. I think about things like that a lot. Not the Gerrard thunderbolts or the Rafa half-time team talks that everyone knows about, but the small things that contribute to a team’s glory.
In 2005, Carl Woodward from Liverpool’s Radio City was asked to put together a motivational CD for the players to listen to before the game in the dressing room. It was music spliced with commentary of great moments from the season. The first game they were used at was the home tie against Juventus, when Liverpool surged into a 2-0 lead after just 25 minutes.
After such a positive effect, Carl was obviously recruited for the rest of the run.
Again Liverpool started like a train in the semi final after Carl’s CDs were used in the Anfield dressing room. Again a superior team on paper were defeated.
His mixes were so popular that Milan Baros asked for his selection for the final to be played again by the DJ at the hotel in the celebrations in Istanbul. Steven Gerrard also sought him out to thank him when visiting the Radio City tower.
So did DJ Carlos really inspire the road to Istanbul? Who knows. But he’s certainly been a great help to us since we started our show on CityTalk back in March 2012.
His patience and guidance producing a load of lads who barely knew what they were doing, and arguably still don’t (!), was and still is appreciated. Carlos leaves Radio City this week after 16 years’ of service, man and boy.
We’d like to thank Carlos for all his help and wish him all the best.