FSG: Stepping Up To The Transfer Plate?
Article first published on http://www.live4liverpool.com and updated below
Most of us were a bit concerned in January. To be honest we were just reliving past anxieties in previous anxieties. Just how committed were the clubs owners to spending in the transfer market? To be fair during the summer and January transfer windows we were at least approaching the right targets. Ian Ayre got on his Harley and attempted to pull off deals for Mkhitaryan, Costa, Willian and Konoplyanka. Then we all sat back and watched in despair as each deal collapsed.
The club may place a different spin on it, but there was justifiable concern that an unwillingness to push the boat out was behind most of those deals breaking down.
I never felt it was fair to compare FSG to the catastrophic ownership of Hicks and Gillet. However, I retained a nagging worry that they may see top 4 as enough. Arsenal have seen that as a trophy for too long. Multi-billion pound TV deals make it entirely possible to sustain the club and even make money without winning the title we all crave. That seems to have been the Gunners business model in the last decade.
“We want to win.” This was John Henry’s declaration as he arrived on English shores in 2010. By the time we got to summer 2013, it was beginning to ring hollow. Andy Carroll left for West Ham, despite Rodgers stating he wouldn’t go without a replacement arriving .
Then we witnessed another deadline day debacle, which saw a failed attempt to sign Clint Dempsey. The fact we offered Jordan Henderson as a make-weight now beggars belief. It seemed to also point to a lack of funds.
Ultimately we paid the price for these failures in May, as our title challenge just ran out of steam. I’ve said it before, and it is worth repeating the manager and the players deserve enormous praise for getting anywhere near winning the league, given our squad. The owners however, still have much to prove in the area of squad investment.
That may seem harsh. I want to make it clear I am not anti-FSG. I have never believed they were the asset strippers portrayed by others. Especially given the huge strides they have made in the commercial side of the club. They would doubtless argue that a strong performance in this department feeds directly into creating a winning team on the pitch.
It’s hard to argue with this. The number of sponsorship deals the club has secured, and the record revenue from TV and premier league prize monies seems to back this up. There is also progress on the stadium at last. Hallelujah. Now we need to see the fruits of their labours.
In my view it is time for them to take the next step. They have proven they can stabilise the club, and grow the revenues. They have said they are doing so to create a winning team in “the most sporting way possible.” They have also appointed their own man, and renewed his contract. They obviously trust Brendan Rodgers. Everything is in place for Liverpool to finally kick on and regain their place on the premier League perch.
All that’s left is investment in the squad. There are at least some signs that they are now ready to push the boat out. They seem a little less rigid when it comes to signing an older players with little sell on value.
Ricky Lambert has now completed his “Roy of the Rovers” style return to his boyhood club. He will almost definitely improve the squad. Imagine for a moment Liverpool struggling to break down a stubborn defence. You look to the substitutes, and you see Lambert and Aspas sitting there. Who would you choose? The Lambert deal is a no brainer for me, and a sign that FSG are listening and learning.
FSG have also moved very quickly in this window compared to other. Emre Can is in the bag, at least “in principle” and reports emanating from Spain suggest Moreno will follow soon.
Then there is the issue of ambition. They have reportedly tabled an offer of £25 million for Lallana. It remains to be seen how much of that deal consists of add ons but it still represents a hefty fee.
Many in social media have questioned whether he is worth it. Only time will tell whether he is or isn’t. BUT haven’t we spent the last few transfer windows bemoaning the clubs apparent lack of ambition. I have read countless rants like “for God sake, just pay what they want” or “it’s only a few more million.” If we do pay that much for Lallana, surely it’s a sign that the club is finally willing to go that extra mile for the players Rodger’s feels he needs. Hasn’t Rodgers earned that trust.
The reds could enter this seasons World Cup with as many as four new players, if Lovren joins Lambert, Can Moreno. Lallana or Shakiri could follow when the tournament ends. The combined fees, again according to speculation, amount to around seventy million pounds.
Of course a lot can happen to derail even the best laid plans, but it seems things are heading in the right direction. To borrow a baseball metaphor our owners may finally be ‘stepping up to the plate’ in the transfer market.