BEFORE I get too heavily into what’s on my mind this week, there’s some background information I need to give you about my friends from school.
In short, I was always the stupid one. As adults, one of my school friends has gone on to work for a bank, one has become a forensic accountant, one a teacher, another a doctor. There’s a solicitor in there, too, and one lad does something with computers that I don’t understand.
Me? I mostly sit around in my pants and write stuff about Liverpool.
I’ve never really had an inferiority complex, but I have always been made to feel stupid when it comes to maths. Admittedly I’ve been the author of my own downfall. When we were younger, I gave a £20 note over for a £12 taxi fare and felt short-changed when I got £8 back. Obviously I see where I went wrong now, but back then it confused the hell out of me.
I actually think I’ve got much better at maths since, though I’d never pretend to be a genius. I can work out the percentage of a bill for a tip. I can add stuff together roughly when I go shopping. That sort of thing.
I tell you all of this not because I want you to start tweeting me with sums, but just so that we’re on the same page when it comes to my understanding of numbers. I think it’s important because there’s something I don’t really get at the moment: What’s with the obsession with net spend?
Seriously, why are so many people losing their shit over it?
If you Google “net spend definition” then the first main result that comes up is from a thread about football manager. One of the people in said thread asks this: “Was this implemented purely to wind Liverpool fans up because when you mock their horrendous transfer spending the[y] quote ‘net spend’?”
Are other club’s fans as bothered about it as we are? Maybe Arsenal fans. They lose their shit over anything nowadays.
As a collective, we do seem to have an obsession over it, though, net spend, and I wonder if I’m missing something.
From what I understand your net spend is, essentially, the amount of money you’ve brought in from transfers minus the amount of money you’ve spent. So if we had spent £300million on new players and only sold Benteke for £30m then we would have a negative net spend of £270m. Conversely, had we spent £10m on new players and only sold Benteke for £30m we would have a positive net spend of £20m.
At the end of last season it seemed as though Liverpool fans wanted two things: to get rid of the deadwood and to improve on specific areas of the squad. A new goalkeeper was a must, as was an improvement in the centre-back department. A new left-back was very much desired, with a pacy man in the final third who could make things happen also important. It was also hoped that there could be an improvement in the middle of the park.
What we’ve done as far as the ins are concerned is deal with the goalkeeper issue through the arrival of Loris Karius, We’ve also got a £20m defender for free in Joel Matip and brought in a ‘new Kolo’ in the shape of Ragnar Klavan. I think we can all agree that Sadio Mané has ticked a very big box when it comes to ‘pacy and exciting forward’.Georginio Wijnaldum has also come in to add some options to the middle of the park.
The outs are significantly more interesting. Not only have we been able to rid ourselves of the deadwood, but for the first time in a long time it feels as though someone at the club is getting things right on the money front. £13m for Joe Allen, £15m for Jordon Ibe and something like £6m for Brad Smith. That all sounds like music to my ears, to say nothing of the £30m-ish we will bank for Benteke.
What that means is that we’ve basically swapped Allen and Ibe for Wijnaldum, and changed Benteke and Brad Smith for Sadio Mané. That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.
Yet some people are annoyed that the club are likely to end the transfer window with a positive net spend? This is where I’m a little bit confused. What does it matter? The only areas we have failed to strengthen are left-back and defensive midfield, but it’s evident that Klopp has no desire whatsoever to buy a new first-choice left-back and he has never shown any inclination to buy a DM.
Would people have been happier if we’d kept hold of Benteke and had a negative net spend? Are they terrified of us selling Mario Balotelli and looking like we’re going to make around £20m profit on the summer dealings?
I’d understand the angst and annoyance if noises were emanating from the club that Klopp really wanted a particular target but was told we couldn’t afford it. Say trusted journalists were reporting Klopp was desperate for Jonas Hector but John Henry wasn’t willing to spend more than £7m on him and Köln wanted £10m — then I’d completely get the anger.
But, as far as I’m aware, there have been no complaints whatsoever from Jürgen about his summer dealings. He surely knows the press well enough now to leak a story or two if he wanted to. Plenty of other managers in recent history have done similar. But he doesn’t because it seems he’s not dissatisfied. He genuinely does seem to believe in the power of training and development. As much as we might not want to admit it, Klopp honestly thinks that Alberto Moreno will be a brilliant left-back.
I’m as keen as the next person to see another player come in before the transfer window slams shut, but is Klopp?
If he had been given a budget of £800m at the start of the summer would he have done anything differently? I’m not so sure. He could have persuaded Mario Götze to come to Anfield if he had promised him riches. His golden child, who he made one of the best attackers in Europe, could have been given wages beyond his wildest deams, but Jürgen wants someone to push the train, not to jump on it.
£89m for Paul Pogba? Not for me. Zlatan on £260,000 per week? That’s utter madness. I’d have loved the club to sign Sané, Nolito or the likes, but would they have come? Would Klopp have wanted them?
That last question is the key. We as fans might well want the club to run around the place splashing the cash, but if the manager doesn’t then there’s literally no point panicking about it. You’ll make yourself ill getting stressed over that sort of thing.
Likewise the state of other team’s squads. I really don’t get the talk about Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea having better squads than us. Who cares? Why does it matter? Manchester United having a better squad than us only matters when we play Manchester United. That’s two games out of 38.
The only other time I’ll accept that talk of another team’s squad is relevant is towards the end of the season, but even then I’ll need some convincing. If our lads’ legs are tiring but Manchester United and Manchester City are rotating all over the place then that’s when I’ll believe that their squad depth has made a difference. Then again, Leicester won the league last season using less players than any other team in the league and Luis Suarez nearly won it for us all on his own, according to some.
We didn’t lose to Burnley because Chelsea have got a stronger squad than us. We lost because Philippe Coutinho can be an idiot sometimes. If we had a better left-back that wouldn’t stop the Brazilian from blamming it over the bar every five minutes.
If the manager starts to complain about not being supported by the owners or suggests that our squad isn’t good enough to compete then I’ll be one of the first to complain about FSG. Right now, though, he’s happy. So I’m happy. It’s great being happy.
A very informative article, thanks.
Net spend is load of balls anyway, see the section entitled ‘Net spend is not as important as fans might think’ on this well timed article by The Guardian.
“So if we had spent £300million on new players and only sold Benteke for £30m then we would have a POSITIVE net spend of £270m. Conversely, had we spent £10m on new players and only sold Benteke for £30m we would have a NEGATIVE net spend of £20m.”? No? Net spend only matters to me as the number is a proxy for ambition via additional investment.
It’s the psychology of the modern fan Adam. They equate success with money and assume that spending loads of it will bring trophy after trophy. And if that doesn’t work then spending more will defo sort it. Many Evertonians seem to have fallen for this recently.
Either that or it’s the slightly more cynical version who like to blame the owners for not “putting their hands in their pockets”.
I actually dread the day when new owners or investors arrive with loads of cash. That’s when we all turn into Arsenal fans. In fact that might just be the point at which I for one get off the Premier League jet and get on a non-league bus.
Headline numbers are meaningless anyway – and this piece kinda explains that no-one has a clue what our net spend each summer is.
I think it’s based on the idea that teams who spend loads, are more often than not, those teams who win things.
I’d like to see trophy winners in the top 5 leagues over a certain period and see what their net spend was like.
Yep the current owners have done a decent job of turning us into a top half club that doesn’t challenge for top 4 anymore whilst increasing the value of the club by 3 off the pitch, largely due to the increase in tv money.
Didn’t sign up for permanent austerity but it appears the owners have done. Time to move on and get the Chinese in
Can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic, or if you missed the point entirely.
Nice one, Adam. It’s a shame articles like this have to be written really, but there we are.
I think the key thing is that net spend is no guarantee of transfer success (not that anything is). Not that I want the club to be tight, but I’d rather they improved the squad without wasting money, which they appear to have done this summer, than spending money for the sake of it. As an example, it was said on a recent Gutter (I think?) show that it would cost £20m to improve on Moreno, and even then who knows if the transfer would work out.
People have got to moan about something, I guess…
At the moment we don’t know if the quality of the squad has significantly improved,Mane looks good up to now,but who knows if the keepers better than Mignolet,or Matip is an improvement on the centre backs.Still no left back,still persisting with Henderson in midfield.FSG are hoping that Klopp can turn water into wine,but I doubt that anyone coukd turn us into title challengers with their transfer policy.
Speak for yourself, Wilko. I know that the squad has significantly improved. We have Mane and have not lost a single starter. So there is significant improvement right there.
And how did you reach the conclusion that it is FSG’s transfer policy that has led us to not get a left back? I have an issue with not getting a left back and playmaker but it is with Klopp not FSG.
I’m hoping that before the window ends our current problem areas could still be addressed. The likes of a Medel (other DM’s would be welcome) in midfield to protect the back four and break up play could do our confidence the world of good. Left back too.
No one is suggesting record breaking fees ( Medel would surely be £10m- £20m) but if we’ve recouped more than we’ve spent it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch, especially as the main goal would be for CL football and the revenue it creates.
Financial gain would usually be helped by a successful team on the pitch, things usually fall into place after that, if not, a lack of bums on seats and empty dining tables in corporate suites will take the gloss off that shiny new stand.
Why on earth would you want to spend that much money (10 to 20 (!!!!) GBP) on Medel for crying out loud?
Over whom who is currently at the club and can play CDM competently or better would you choose Medel, especially for THAT kind of price?
This is M A D N E S S!
If you’ve watched the video put together on YouTube doing the rounds that documents Henderson’s performance as a deep lying centre mid against Burnley then you’d be happy to have a proper DM in the side instead of someone who runs around,rarely puts a foot in and is clueless with his positioning.
It’s said that you can’t polish a turd so then its impossible to polish diarrhoea. Please don’t mention Lucas either.
We have a manager who, God bless him, wants every single player on the pitch to be able to contribute his part both in attack and defense, within an organized team approach.
He’ll prefer Firmino or Origi at ST over Sturridge for just such reasons for certain matches but people think we should actually spend serious amounts of cash to bring in a player “in midfield to protect the back four and break up play” and that Klopp will/ought to go for that.
No, he will make Can, Grujic, Henderson, Wijnadlum and Stewart (perhaps) into better all-around central midfielders, capable of playing the CDM role in his system as well or better (more athletically perhaps) than Lucas has been able to.
Agree with you on this, especially after listening to Klopp’s pre match interview today
Personally I’m not worried one way or the other about net spend providing the manager is getting what he feels he needs. Every indication is that Klopp has had the backing for the transfers he has wanted to make. Some fans might feel they understand the requirement better than Klopp, but Klopp is the man whose reputation will stand or fall by how well we perform this season and beyond.
It makes sense that for this season we should have some good housekeeping going on alongside addressing a couple of obvious needs in the squad. We have no European football this year so we don’t need a large squad, and we are not in the ideal position to land the biggest name players. With that being the case, this isn’t the season to splurge in the transfer market, even if Klopp has the slightest inclination to do that. Better to pare down and focus the squad on those players best equipped to play Klopp’s style of football, and then look to add to it later, when we will (hopefully) need the bigger squad to cope with CL football.
People can talk about net spend being an indication of the owners ambition, and to some extent that is might be correct, but since the owners have made it clear that they have no intention of taking money out of the club, any money not spent now, is available for transfers later, or available for improved salaries to hold on to our key players.
I’m really excited about this season. That excitement might fade as the weeks go by, but I’m looking forward to seeing the development of our players, and there genuinely aren’t many purchases that our rivals have made that make envious of their wealth and pulling power. That doesn’t mean that I think we will win the league, but I think that I will really enjoy watching us play.
(And we might win the league anyway. You never know.)
Excellent point made. And Klopp seems to be truly happy with the squad he has. Some fans and journalists seem to be more concerned about certain quality about our squad.
Klopp is the world class manager and I strongly believe that he will get us to the promised land.
Well said. This is going to be an interesting and eventful season. I am very happy with both our manager and his style of developing players and systems. Fingers crossed the season goes well and that we progress. I think it’s going to another season or so after before we really see the team take shape. It will be interesting to see who, of the squad he inherited, will still be around then and actually where and how they play in the team.
Adam, this article proves that you are as good as your name sake famous economist Adam Smith. Well done and fully agreed with your point.
I agree that it isn’t something to get our knickers into a twist about, but there is some revisionism going on here. There’s was a broad consensus amongst Liverpool fans and writers here at TAW at the end of last season that we needed a marquee signing – someone who would ratchet up the excitement levels at Anfield – and that Klopp was just the manager to attract such a player. Klopp’s standing in the game as a manager elite players would queue to play for was cited as one of the more obvious advantages he had over Rodgers.
As I say, the fact we haven’t signed that player isn’t keeping me up at night and I haven’t lost any faith in Jurgen because that player hasn’t been landed, but this is probably the source of most of the ‘net spend’ disappointment.
Hasn’t Mane now fulfilled that? Expensive lad who has the fans off the seats?
It’ll do for me
I agree. Gotze was a marquee signing but I’m not sure he would have really improved us, certainly not like Mane.
Overall, although I’d like a couple more in I think our business overall in this window has been excellent. If you keep improving your squad while making a profit, that has to be good doesn’t it?
There is a direct correlation between money spent and position in the league…last season being the exception to that.
I don’t think many care about what is spent, they just want to win. Arsenal fans used to take their lack of spending as a point of pride, until it was years and years since they won the title and not just the other day.
If we win the league this year, our fans will use our lack of net spend as a way to mock other teams. The same fans who might be moaning about it right now.
Ultimately, people are simple.
Net spend doesn’t matter.
However, IMO there are glaring gaps in the squad in terms of depth & quality which I think derail our title chances. Instead of looking like making improvements with a week to go we only look like we’re moving Balotelli, Markovic et al out the door!
To be fair, given most of the business we have done this summer has taken about two days from when the media first got wind of it, we really have no way of knowing whether we will get anyone else in.
We should give Balo a run at left back. Then Moreno would seem like Maldini.
cant believe i sat here reading your shit, “coutinho can be an idiot sometimes”? or do you mean “coutinho like every other human being makes bad decisions at times”?
every player makes mistakes and coutinho is certainly not an idiot.
no wonder why your mates got jobs and you are a loser