WHAT we say and what we do in life can often be two very different things. The best laid plans and intentions can sometimes have a way of undoing themselves, not least when there are certain conflicts of interest we didn’t even know existed.
Sometimes, when hearing and reading various statements about our transfer policy and potential transfer targets from different members of the Anfield hierarchy, it sounds like there is a bit of disturbance on the lines of communication between owners and manager; you get the feeling they want to be on the same page but have different definitions about what should constitute LFC’s transfer policy.
Some quotes from Tom Werner about the club’s spending power and intentions in the market:
“I would say we certainly have the resources to compete with anybody in football” (April 2012)
“Our intention is to strengthen [in the January window] but actions will speak louder than words.” (November 2012)
“If we had spent that money in the summer then we wouldn’t have done that trade recently. It may have left us short, but the pieces just did not come together. We’ve come through that period now. I still feel it was the right decision.”
Is there something in these quotes that should worry us, or is this just me over-thinking things, looking for problems that don’t exist?
Take the second Werner quote: if Rodgers indeed wanted to sign Wesley Sneijder in January, what does this say about the understanding between owners and manager? Was it a coincidence that both Gerrard and Rodgers publicly talked about the need for more experience in the squad, while Ian Ayre praised our age balance as the best in the league; or was this a public power struggle between FSG and our manager – a struggle that stopped Brendan Rodgers from signing a player he wanted?
There has been a lot of talk about FSG and their strategy: buy young, build for the future, value for money. In theory it makes perfectly good sense in my head; after all, this is more or less what Alex Ferguson has done over the years as well. The Berbatov’s and the Van Persie’s have been the exceptions, not the rule.
But I also think there must be a degree of pragmatism. Within any strategy there must be flexibility, and I’m not fully convinced FSG are willing to bend their principles sufficiently, hence the contradictive statements – with Ian Ayre doing his finest fire extinguisher impersonation.
I do believe FSG are willing to go all in regarding transfer fees – as seen in the January window two years ago and the summer window 2011 – but only when they are convinced a transfer is good for the club in the long run; only when they see it as a sound investment. They seem to operate in a rational way, without fully grasping the fact that the transfer market in football is fundamentally irrational – hence the failure on deadline day last August.
Going back to the issues with transfer policy:
Paying £25m or so for Robin van Persie, or giving Wesley Sneijder £150k p/w; none of it makes much sense from a pure financial point of view when you are trying to make the club self-sustainable, but these are the cases where principles and rationale go out the window – and if you don’t have the madness of it assimilated into your system you probably need heavy persuading.
I think these contradictions we see have to do with FSG not fully appreciating and accepting how the market works yet, and a certain stubbornness to do things the way they had planned when purchasing the club.
If that is the case, do we have the right MD in place to help Rodgers reason with them when financial principles no longer can be used as an argument?