Part 1 – 1992-2000
As transfer speculation is one way of whiling away the summer – well if you’re not changing managers or owners anyway – I decided to take a look back at our summer transfer activity over the years to see how well it’s worked out and what effect the summer signings had. And since football only began in 1992, I thought that might be the place to start.
One conclusion you draw is that some summers’ business succeeds in raising expectations to fever point, while others leave us distinctly underwhelmed. Some are just notably, totally horrible – the summer of 2002 being the prime example. Our summer horribilis followed our 2001 cup treble and first qualification for the Champions League, so there was a rising expectation that we were on the brink of returning to the very top after a dismal decade. Then came Diouf, Diao and Cheyrou, out went over £18 m, and down the big snake to the starting square went LFC.
What was also highlighted was the spectacular wastes of money under the reign of one Graeme Souness. If people criticise Rafa for spending money on tat – which has been refuted time and again by those awkward things called facts – then how did Souness ever get away with it without a media mauling that made Rafa’s look like polite dinner party chat?
The review finishes with the final Rafa/Hicks and Gillett seasons, when a new requirement entered the sorry picture – to make a transfer surplus rather than spending to build a title-winning team when all arond were strengthening and even Stoke and Wigan were outspending us.
I will look at each summer’s transfers, in and out, in the months of May, June, July and August, and the sums involved, and try to set each summer’s business in some context as to where the club was at the time, where it was trying to be and to what extent those transfers helped in achieving those aims. (I guess the trite answer would be that they didn’t, judged by the club’s overriding requirement of winning the title.) It’s a story of a few oh-so-close near misses and the occasional shot that was so wide it went out for a throw-in.
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