Josh Sexton writes about Fenway Sports Group and whether he believes they are to blame for Liverpool’s lacklustre league title defence…
BE careful what you wish for.
Some of us were offering organs and attempting to do deals with the devil, all to make sure The Reds wrapped up their first league title in 30 years.
We didn’t get to see it lifted live but at least we won it, eh? And perhaps that was the trade off with Lucifer himself. You can have your league title but you can not see it live and be given the chance to party on the streets all summer.
On top of all that, you’ll have to sit through a series of sacrifices throughout the following season. You still can’t go in the ground, for a kick off. We’ll systematically break down your squad with injuries, so many injuries, all seeming to come in the centre-back position. Oh, and you’ll be bottom of that VAR league table thing.
Ask me last season if I’d have taken this after all that and I’d have imagined, amid the scent of league title delirium I’d have probably bit your hand off. For now though, it hurts.
And we all want answers. Why is this happening? It can’t just be the injuries. Everybody is suffering from shite refs. Nobody has their supporters there to spur them on. So why?
Be careful what you wish for.
Fenway Sports Group. The Marmite of owners, if you believe everything you read on Twitter (and I can’t recommend enough that you don’t and you find time in your day to ditch your devices).
Lover or hater?
If I’m being completely honest, I can never really bother my arse to discuss them. We’re not privy to any patter from the boardroom big wigs, so at times like these it just feels to me like they become the easy target.
Jürgen Klopp is one of the greatest managers in our history. These players have given us so much success to celebrate. I mean, even John Achterberg seems to have been able to escape previous criticisms which spawned in our weird pre-Alisson Becker world.
So it must be the owners and their refusal to spend. Right?
I can see the argument and they definitely don’t help themselves. Nobody can argue that our ownership is without fault. After all, we’ve had our fair share of protests and petitions to force U-turns on some pitiful policies – as recent as the furlough fiasco at the start of the pandemic.
We needed a centre half in the summer, that is absolutely clear. Going into the season with three options, two of which have a rich history of injury issues, was always going to be a tightrope to walk.
Liverpool toppled from that tightrope spectacularly and suddenly January reinforcements became a necessity. So why was it radio silence until the drama of deadline day? The owners must have thought they could ride their minimal luck even further, until Joel Matip joined Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez on the new treatment tables at Kirkby.
We can see that because weeks before the manager had started to make rumblings in press conferences about the money that was available to him.
Well, let’s look at the other side of this as well. Because these Boston-based billionaires obviously need me to say something to save their skin.
Nobody spent anything. Or so they say. But Manchester City still spent £160m. Chelsea spent £222m. Manchester United spent around the same as The Reds (roughly £75m) but with much less income from any outgoing transfers (£17m to our £35m).
Be careful what you wish for.
Be honest, would you want any of those club’s owners? We can probably do better than FSG, and there’ll always be a feeling that a club run by the fans is the perfect solution, but would we rather be run by an oil state, Roman Abramovich or the Glazer family if they were the only options? It’s worth thinking about that.
Of course, Leicester and West Ham lie ahead of Liverpool in the table too. But they spent less and brought in more from player sales, so they stand up to the net-spend naysayers.
And if we want to analyse the signings themselves, would we say that any of those team’s signings made since the summer we’d take over what we have?
Thiago has struggled at times, but I don’t believe there’s a single soul who could safely say they disputed his signing back in September. Diogo Jota was a revelation until the devil decided he had a new trick besides smiting our centre halves. And Kostas Tsimikas has had his fair share of bad luck, as well as doing his best Albie Moreno impression thus far.
City’s best signing was Ruben Dias and he seems to have been the difference maker for them in what had become a problem position. Chelsea’s big buys have flattered to deceive, and the majority of them have been linked to Liverpool at one time or another. And United’s most impactful signing has been the free agent arrival of Edinson Cavani.
So what do we want? Would signing Ozan Kabak in the summer rather than waiting till February have cured all our ills? Would signing him a month earlier have stopped FSG from falling foul of a small but shouty selection of our support? Should we have sold Xherdan Shaqiri and Divock Origi for pennies just so we could bring in better?
Be careful what you wish for.
This is why I can’t really be arsed with the ownership chat. I’m happy to criticise them when they’ve done something blatantly wrong, as I’d imagine The Anfield Wrap’s other 100+ individual contributors are, despite dickheads who don’t consume our content claiming that we can’t because it would impact our paycheques.
Any perceived failings they’ve made since that furlough fuck up are part of an overall poor picture this season which I wish I could scrunch up into a ball and start again.
So are they to blame for Liverpool’s lapse? They should feel they are to some extent. Everybody at the club should be introspective in shouldering some responsibility, as Klopp keeps doing in his press conferences.
But we’ve just had two seasons of the sort of success my younger self, living through the threat of liquidation under Tom Hicks and George Gillett, could have only dreamed of.
So am I #FSGOut or #FSGIn? In truth, I couldn’t give a fuck. Argue amongst yourselves for all I care. But be careful what you wish for.
In the meantime, I’ll be focusing on trying to find more ways to make this leisure activity a little more leisurely.
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Picture this. August 2018 and up pops Satan. He extends his fiery hoof for you to shake on the following deal:
“Shake this, Kopite, and by Feb 2021 your team will have won another European Cup and a League title but, the third season will be shite in ways that you can only begin to imagine.”
We’d all have shaken that hoof.
That’s two senseless minutes of my life I won’t get back. What a waste of space this article is. Subscribe to the Anfield Wrap? I couldn’t give a fuck.
Since the summer of 18/19 when Fabinho and Allison arrived we have brought in very few players that have made a positive impact to our team. Jota yes and maybe Thiago. Both have played roughly 3mths football. That’s 5 transfer windows that have passed with very little impact from our buys. All the while the existing squad have been playing an enormous amount of football in an intense manner and have become 2.5yrs older.
Kabak, bought at the end of this window instead of the start, has come from one of the defensively worst teams in the Bundesliga for the last 18mths to us in the midst of a defensive crisis and expected to perform all at the age of 20. I feel really bad for the lad. I very much doubt this is what he’s needed, or indeed us. Surely we needed someone in a) at the start of the window and b) could perform at a reasonable level from the get go. Davies another one. Coulda joined Celtic and be probably playing week in week out, instead persuaded to join us as 7th or is it 8th choice centreback? What was the point if he’s not ready to step in straight away? Again, were those buys what we needed at that time?
People throw out the excuse that it was only when Matip became injured that we jumped. No body needed a crystal ball to know Matip would be out injured again before the season was out, either long term or multiple short term injuries.
The transfer decisions over the last 5 windows haven’t been great has left us with an older, injury prone and tired squad.
i think ur all missing the point with fsg yes they are loaded like sheiks at citeh roman at chelskie and woodward at mankieshite why oh why do we keep bringing up the worst ownership ever with lfc hicks and gillet since fsg saved our asses and bought the club with massive debts we owe them so much gratitude not anger and #fsgout signs on social media but they have owned lfc red sox goodness knows how many other companies yes we have suffered badly with injuries gini hasnt been injured at all while others falling down around him like flies i really dont know how he does it maybe eating shredded wheat hes holding our midfield together with its interchanging lineups with hendo jones shaq cant get a game rhys and tsimikas and poor davies still yet to play a game the wheels have firmly been shattered imo and theres all the loanees too that will need to be sorted out i think we need a clearout most of the loanees must move on apart from eliott we need him i think we need to change formation also as 4 3 3 isnt working sothat by the time we start 21-22 season we have a trim squad and better balance right the way through we are too lopsided alissonis leaking goals like a faucet kabak has only just started playing hendo isnt a cb im wondering whether to switch gini with thiago and then play gini and jones and then play firmino just in front of them with mane and salah so in response yes fsg are partly tp blame klopp is partly to blame too and the players partly to blame but i do hope fans can get back b4 may for that i blme boris
You’ll definitely need to check for splinters with your backside firmly attached to that fence.
I’ve seen FSG compared to Moores who failed to strengthen and capitalise when we seemed to be in a position of strength after some success. Money has been spent but we seem to be in a one in one out policy which some reds find difficult after winning a Champions League and a Premier League title and the financial gains it must have brought.
The Echo now hinting that a lack of Champions League football next season will affect transfer funds and the hindering of potential transfer targets. Seeing as we only have an annual budget of about £30m/£40m per summer then we sell to buy people will say what’s changed?
If financially we’ll be stretched even more, considering the current pandemic situation it’s going to be interesting to see how willing FSG will be to keep the club at the top table at home and in europe. Remember what Tom Werner said “Liverpool certainly have the resources to compete with anyone in football.” I guess we’ll soon find out.
It’s almost like you don’t need to have a strong opinion on everything, init?
Some fans are getting to fickle. FSG got oxlade- chamberlain, that was questioned till he was a hero against city, then he was injured, now fans want him out. Origi & shaqiri played in the team that beat Barca four nil. Origi scored in the cl final. Now fans( mainly online) want them gone. Pre season people wanted kabak, now we have him. We had three centre backs, fabhino could play the fourth. I don’t think anyone saw all four including fabhino going out. New signings jota & Thiago- out.
Keita- out. New signing tsamikas -out. These are players Liverpool tracked for a long time- most of them for close to a year. You literally couldn’t make this up.
The piece seems to be quite defensive with an undertone of contempt for anyone that dare to question FSG. The owners are not immune to be questioned and there should be a healthy debate, especially since lots of media and fanzines give them huge credit for the success – therefore its logical that they should get blame for on pitch failings.
I will entertain the debate that is required right now. I don’t call for new owners but will question FSG’s recent (last 3 seasons transfer activity) since, for me, we are reaping the failings of that right now.
Very little activity from summer 2019 onwards has lead to an aging, injured squad, why? Recognition that the same players were getting injured and backups for these were then required (and those players moved on) – why has this been left?
Finally – poor decisions to have 3 centrebacks this season (when 2 have never managed more than 28 games in a season) – why?
These decisions are all due to the constraints of LFC very low transfer budget.
My fear is that if we can’t strengthen when we’re on top, nor when we’re on the bottom, when can we strengthen? To me after 10 years of ownership, if FSG are still telling us that we’re a sell to buy club then something is not right about their approach. These are vaild questions and FSG’s upcoming summer will go a long way to answering them.
Are they great owners? Absolutely not – but they can be better, if they want.
Seems very clear that the squad was vulnerable to injuries at CB and also the front three. The alternative catastrophe would have been losing mane and salah long term.
Would we have played Henderson up front??
FSG have played the financial prudence card during the pandemic. That ignores the fact that off the back of Klopp the club is now worth well over £1billion, some reports say £2 billion.
They paid £300m. That’s a gain of hundreds of millions so there should be money available somewhere. Where is it?
There are lessons to be learnt for next season if we want to get back to challenging City. FSG have done a good job as owners on a lot of fronts, they really have turned the club around but also got lucky that Klopp was available when he was. Klopp has pulled of a miracle on the net transfer spend and FSG shouldn’t be given a free pass for the recent success.