JUST to make it clear, this article is in reply to some of the comments I got from irate fans who read my last article “Uncertainty Brings Its Own Excitement“. I would like to point out at the start that the previous article in question was penned before the Fulham game however the comments seem to have been made largely on the back of the Stoke performance and result.
The game was, of course, a big disappointment although, it’s worth remembering we’ve never won there.
Anyway, the point is, giving in to knee jerk reactions is pointless and counter-productive. We are in the first year of a process set to take at least three more before we’re back to something like where we were in 2005/6/7/8. Yes it hurts to get beaten, especially by Stoke, and inconsistency is upsetting because it raises hope only to dash it but I’ve been a fan for almost 30 years and, believe it or not, things have been worse, many times in my opinion.
We have a good young side with great potential, we have a potentially exciting, dynamic young manager admittedly with much to learn, but seemingly with the brief and desire to set about building a dynasty for the future. We aren’t in masses of debt like our friends in Manchester and we’re looking like a team trying to progress in the future rather than a side still desperate to cling on to the status quo.
Fans going off at the deep end at the owners are understandably frustrated by the summer’s apparent cock-up, amongst other relatively minor things, but realistically FSG have a right to be sensible after the colossal waste of funds during the Comolli/Dalglish era. It was FSG’s mistake to hire Comolli and in a sense now, Brendan Rodgers and us as fans are suffering for it now, but the owners did try to spend big to get back to the top four in one season and look what happened.
When it comes to transfers a big price often doesn’t guarantee quality or a tangible return, and LFC fans more than any other should know that by now. The point is you can get a bargain like Michu for £2m just as easily as you can get a donkey like Carroll for £35m; the secret is in the scouting.
Moving forward we are looking at the January transfer window. This will be the first window that Rodgers and LFC have had their new scouting team working on. The brief, undoubtedly, will have been to identify young players with the necessary attributes to fit into the style of play that Rodgers is looking to nurture at Liverpool and the kind of attitude and character that he’s looking for in a player.
The key to this window will not be the amount of money spent on fees and wages, but the ability of the scouting team to have identified players, possibly under the radar, who can come in and almost instantly improve the dynamic of the team. We’re unlikely to be signing big name players and what the club does will be with a view to strengthening progressively in the summer like Spurs have over the last four or five seasons, only we’ve only had one window to do it in so far and still need to clear out some dead wood that’s tying up the wage bill.
This fact is symptomatic of where Liverpool is as a football club. We have dropped out of the “Big Four” and we did that a long time before most of us really knew Brendan Rodgers existed. FSG, love them or loathe them, rescued the Club from administration and splashed a fortune to try and get us back up the league, including backing one of the club’s greatest legends and one of my all-time heroes Kenny Dalgish, when they clearly had reservations about doing so; that it didn’t work out isn’t their fault. I’m no apologist for foreign ownership by people who aren’t well versed in either the sport or the culture of the club, nor am I a fan of the modern trend of football clubs being run like pure businesses, but that’s where the game is and I would argue that being in our position puts us ahead of other clubs who will have to follow suit eventually – and they all will, even the biggest.
The jury is obviously still out on FSG and they will be judged by their actions in the future and the things they do for the club, but they seem a damn site better than those other cowboys.
Liverpool FC have been a colossus of football but the truth is that, aside from Istanbul, we haven’t won an elite trophy in over twenty years. We’ve challenged periodically over that timespan but in the last four years we’ve not only slipped out of the elite bracket, but also gone on to stagnate and consolidate a lower top half berth not least through the inability to produce our own youngsters or attract players with a winning mentality.
Rodgers has set about changing that by blooding the youngsters and giving them their head. Granted he may be guilty of overusing them at times, however they are the players upon which any foundations for a bright future at Anfield will rely and depend. Rodgers has taken stick for some of the players he’s signed however he has at least tried to bring in players with a winning mentality.
The likes of Nuri Sahin and Fabio Borini haven’t set the world alight in Red yet but they’re past exploits at other clubs would suggest that there should be a lot more to come from them, having already achieved so much at such a young age. Again, we’ll have to reserve judgement on Rodgers, six months isn’t long enough to get a full picture of where he’s guiding the club, particularly given the transition he’s attempting to make. It’s right to ask questions of the process, however it’s vitally important not to panic and risk strangling the project in its infancy; at least wait until the end of the season to make your minds up.
The team I would mention if attempting to make a comparison is Borussia Dortmund. A one-time giant of German Football who went from Champions League victory to administration and near relegation in the space of ten years. The Directors at the club set about re-organising and making the club into a successful, productive outfit by concentrating on youth, hiring a dynamic young, relatively untested head coach from little known Mainz and having faith in him to revive the club’s fortunes. That man was Juergen Klopp and the rest is history: taking over at the end of a season which had seen Dortmund finish 13th, Klopp managed them to a sixth place finish, followed by a fifth place finish, followed by successive Bundesliga titles.
Dortmund follow a strict regime in terms of wages, transfers and finance in general, in order to avoid the almost catastrophic position they found themselves in ever repeating itself; a wise move. No player earns more than £60,000 a week, they have often sold prized assets such as Shinji Kagawa and reinvested the money wisely, the emphasis is on the group dynamic and work ethic, they play a short passing, high tempo, hard pressing game and have a talented, media savvy manager. There are comparisons to LFC there, albeit we’re at an early stage in the process, but what Dortmund have shown and is that this model of progressive football, placing emphasis on youth, can win out in one of Europe’s most competitive league if given the time and the backing to flourish.
I am not gloomy about the future of LFC like a lot of you ranters are. I have my reasons for seeing the positives, not least because I’m a fan, and I don’t believe that I’m glossing over anything or being mindlessly positive, neither however am I being melodramatically negative. I suppose my point is; get a grip of yourselves!
It’s not all brilliant but these are potentially exciting times, it’s not all terrible but there are some times where you wish the ground would swallow you whole. That’s the reality of being a Liverpool fan; has been during most of my lifetime. Reality can be hard place to reach for some, but that’s where I’m standing, care to join me?
You can catch Neil on Twitter @Neil1980 and on his blog http://itsallinthegameblog.wordpress.com/