As Liverpool fans we have been longing for this month since September 1st when we left with the ‘what the hell just happened?!’ feeling, or more appropriately what didn’t happen.
Now it has been abundantly clear that our squad isn’t of a size to be up there competing where we want to be, and with the influx of youngsters this term, the feeling is that there is also a lack of experience.
Understandably there is an overwhelming desire from the terraces to the pitch for fresh faces to make their way to Melwood, and the month started so positively with Mr Sturridge arriving (hasn’t he done well so far?)
Yet this has been the sole arrival despite Messrs Cole, Sahin and Wilson departing – doing nothing for our squad size! So what now?
Well, this situation has left the club in a tricky position (some may well suggest that this is self made), which has not been helped in any way by the unlikeliest of people. Step up Robin van Persie.
Eh? RVP? What’s he got to do with it? Questions I’m sure at least one person is asking, so let me expand by stepping back in time.
RVP is fresh from by far his most successful and complete season as a footballer. As his contract with Arsenal neared its conclusion he became a different man; his goalscoring was untouchable and he remained fit. Merely looking at his goalscoring and games played stat one could (cruelly) suggest that this was a flash in the pan – a one season wonder if you will – but never the less, hot property.
Up step United and pay £24m for a player in the last year of his contract and offer wages, if we are to believe reports, upwards of £150k a week if not much more. Now given his career to date, this was an almighty gamble.
One full season of consistent goals and match winning performances, but an entire back catalogue of injury problems. A tweak of an old injury here, the form to go there and United find themselves in an ‘Aquilani’ (well invested player not contributing) leaving them in the hole, financially lacking the ability to further bolster.
It is hindsight (marvellous tool) that shows this gamble (and lets be fair it was a gamble) has paid off big time. I’m sure he is exceeding all expectations at Old Trafford, but has his success created unreal expectations for other clubs? How does this relate to us?
Well, in my mind it is clear that Hicks & Gillett with Purslow, left us in a financial nightmare. Tony Barrett retweeted a description that it was as if someone had dropped a nuclear bomb at the heart of the club and we still have the fallout. None of us know the financial dealings of the club or the state it was in bar it being fairly horrific.
In the last year we have said tearful goodbyes to Dirk Kuyt, Maxi Rodriguez and Craig Bellamy, as well as helping pack the bags for Alberto Aquilani and Joe Cole – all big earners (shudder to think of their combined weekly wage). Certainly Kuyt, Maxi and Bellamy would have made a difference this season but their wages were unsustainable.
So here lies the problem: we need experience, but experience costs.
This doesn’t sit well when finances need to be sorted. Every transfer is a gamble, you can get a McAllister or you can get a Degen, a Torres or a Keane. The apparent current philosophy centres around young talent to not only build for the future but puts the odds more in your favour.
Young players mean less wages and a ‘potential’ that can generate a fee at a later date to recoup some if not all of what you paid. Playing it somewhat safe as it were. A player like the much talked about Sneijder has the undoubted quality and experience we want but brings in wage demands up there with the players at the club who have earned theirs.
When we were first linked I obviously was over the moon – it was Wesley Sneijder for crying out loud – but then alarm bells started ringing…it was a huge gamble. Yes, RVP worked for United but did Veron? How has Torres done at Chelsea? Are we in a position to be able to gamble with such high stakes? Personally I feel it was a blessing in disguise he has gone to Turkey.
The overriding worry for me, something which has scarred the club in recent years, is bringing in the experience who lack that real hunger for the club, that passion we demand. Yes we could gamble, throw our eggs in one basket and hope we get a RVP response, but what then if we get a Joe Cole response? We are back to square one, hampered by wages for someone not contributing.
Undoubtedly we need some experience on the pitch as well as players to contribute immediately but how much do we gamble?
The question is posed: Gamble gamble gamble, or steady eddy? Let’s chat on here or come find me on twitter @timdibs
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