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.