BACK in the early 2000′s, there was a short period when I became convinced that every time we made a tentative approach to sign a player Manchester United were just loitering suspiciously around the corner, waiting to pounce. We’d make a move for a player and if things weren’t wrapped up quickly enough, we’d wake up one morning to news that Ferguson had gone and gazumped Liverpool to sign the player they were after right under their noses. This occurred, most notably, in the cases of Mikael Silvestre and Cristiano Ronaldo.
You may not remember but there was a time when Liverpool were heavily linked with Ronaldo – long before United even knew who he was – and after Liverpool showed a little uncertainty, United swept in and offered double what we had. The rest is history, of course, but it showed that Ferguson has always shown little originality in the transfer market.
What I’ve noticed in the past month though is that Tottenham now seem to have taken over this mantle. I’d had my suspicions that it was always Redknapp that was the problem whilst he was Tottenham manager, he was always very fond of Liverpool players and any players we showed an interest in. But despite having been sacked by Spurs recently, things haven’t changed in the slightest.
As the transfer rumour-mill got into full swing during the Euros, the Reds were tentatively linked with Salomon Rondon, the Malaga striker. Later in the tournament – as always – with Spain doing well, Pepe Reina was being heavily linked with move back to Spain, with Hugo Lloris widely thought to be the main man to replace him. Barely a day had passed before Tottenham declared an interest in both these players, with Lloris still being strongly linked with Spurs, even now.
Then came the Sigurdsson saga; a long, tedious, drawn-out process which saw all the bookies cut the odds on the Icelander joining Liverpool to the point where it was all done, and we were just awaiting the fat lady signalling that it was done. Then Tottenham declared an interest and within days he’d signed for them, with Liverpool supposedly having baulked at what Tottenham were prepared to pay the player.
At this point some may just accuse me of paranoia. If you read certain, unnamed football sites these days, that is the popular consensus about Liverpool fans anyway, so it would make little difference. But there comes a point when you have to say to yourself, ‘just because I’m paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me’ and that point came mid-week when, seemingly out of nowhere, Tottenham suddenly decided that they really, seriously needed to get Joe Allen to sign up with them.
Whilst I admit I was particularly bothered by the idea of losing out on the other three players, the case of Allen has really irked me. Here is a young player in whom Liverpool have shown a lot of interest in recent weeks, despite already being overburdened in the centre of midfield. Negotiations have supposedly been ongoing and the fees differ daily. Then you have Tottenham, who have known since last summer that Modric would be moving on this year and yet, until last week they had never shown the slightest interest in the young Welsh maestro. It’s almost as if, as Liverpool’s own desire for the player increases, it piques an interest in Tottenham that wasn’t there before.
With Gaston Ramirez’s agent seemingly deep into discussions with representatives of the Reds over this weekend, it shouldn’t be too long before Spurs send somebody up to try and hijack their cars on the way back to the airport. I can just see Daniel Levi hanging out the side of a blacked out, CIA-style SUV, waving a cheque for twice the amount Liverpool have offered, still not entirely sure who it is he’s trying to sign.
Perhaps I am just being paranoid, and perhaps Tottenham had had a long-held interest behind the scenes in all of these players that I never knew about but it still all just strikes me as a bit unsavoury. The hope is that we’ll have both Allen and Ramirez wrapped up before this time next week, but until that time I’ll still be living in fear of the same thing happening again.
It is partly our own fault, of course, as I mentioned a few weeks ago, we’re still slightly guilty of dragging our heels when it comes to wrapping things up in the transfer market as quickly as possible. To ensure the same thing doesn’t happen as it did in the case of Sigurdsson, we’ll have to move much more quickly, if only to ensure that Tottenham don’t sneak in ahead of us again.