AS the dust settles on possibly the most FFP compliant window we have seen in an age (ahem), it is now where we must judge how well we have performed and how FSG acted. It is key to remember that heading into this summer we were still suffering the H&G hangover, as well as the sour taste of failed projects.
Rewind 12 months and levels of anger and disbelief were nearing breaking point as we waved ta-ra to Andy Carroll who wandered off on-loan, whilst our Uncle Sam welcome-party petered out with a damp squib as a North London raiding squad, dressed in white, swooped in before us for Dempsey, as we failed to Makepeace with Fulham (yeah I went there!).
Fortunately we had a certain Uruguayan in the form of his life to help save face somewhat. The ultimate disappointment we suffered here had to be turned into something positive, it had to be used as a lesson for the future; it was imperative that we didn’t tread the same path in 2013 as our South American knight in shining armour may not reappear!
January, in hindsight, was an excellent indicator of the lessons learned and our new approach. From one perspective we were overpaying for a lightweight Brazilian struggling to get into the Inter Milan team and a Chelsea reject with an attitude problem! What a disaster! Fortunately, as a club we have done extensive work behind the scenes in relation to player identification and recruitment and unearthed these diamonds in the rough for an absolute steal! Is Daniel still a risk Fergie?
The goal of any transfer window has to be to improve the squad and the first team, ideally happening early on in the window to allow the proverbial team jelly to set – as much as we like a wobble in certain circumstances, on the pitch is not one!
The early business done was a clear indication of our new approach to the transfer quagmire. The scouting system in place brought us Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto, names new to most of us, identified Simon Mignolet as being capable of stepping into Reina’s boots and saw in Kolo Toure obviously what Manchester City (foolishly) didn’t. I’m sure most would agree that this was an excellent start! Young, hungry, talented players, and in Toure, possibly the best Carragher replacement we could hope for. Our Invincible! Add in to this mix the offloading for good Messrs Carroll and Downing to our Hammer Charity and the squad make up was arguably stronger and more together in terms of wage, cost and style.
Now the contentious phase!
There are 2 schools of thought here, both stemming from numerous comments ringing from a combination of Boston, Anfield and Melwood. The general theme was the desire to bring in a ‘Marquee’ signing and having a fair lump of notes in their back pocket to do so. The timeline seems to suggest we went for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Diego Costa and Willian. In my mind we didn’t get these deals because of third party ownership, plus lack of Champions League, used by agents to get players a new contract, and we wouldn’t cave to agent demands, respectively!
Now one could, and many have, taken the view that we have shown no ambition, or lack the money or in fact lack the ability to close a deal with many pointing to the lack of a Baldini character. Ever the optimist, I take a different view! I see the ambition shown by the club coupled with the new found refusal to bow to agent demands (a trait I want more clubs to adopt to deal with this bane on the game!). The only aside I may suggest was that instead of time spent on what were always likely to be deals 40-60 or less in our favour, perhaps use the time and available money to get in 2 or 3 earlier. For example, I still believe we need cover/competition for Lucas, not easy returning after two big injuries, but that’s an article for a different day!
I will freely admit that I got twitchy towards the end of the window, especially with missing out on Willian (mixed with a weird relief!) and selling Downing and even Spearing with no clear replacements on the horizon, not to mention the whole Suarez beef. Yet despite my worries and reservations we ended the window strongly, without a rush and in time old dignity unlike others.
Our business was done quietly and assured and in Sakho we have the marquee signing oft discussed. He is a cracking player and yet another victim of this influx of cash in the game, exactly the type of player we should be targeting, like Sturridge! When you look in the Premier League and Europe quite why no others went for him – looking at you City, Arsenal, Spurs, Barcelona – it is amazing. Ilori is certainly one for the future and for me, Moses is an exciting squad addition which will mean we don’t overburden Ibe or Sterling. We probably could have signed him permanently if not for Sturridge!
All in all I think we have had a very successful window. We have further reduced our unmanageable wage bill without a detrimental effect on the squad, in fact quite the opposite. We are looking lean, hungry and a team. The owners have spent money and re-invested and although there will always be those that want more, in my humble opinion FSG have done good this summer!
Agree, disagree? Other thoughts? Would love to hear them, please comment and come find me on twitter @timdibs
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