Liverpool’s American owners haven’t put their hands in their pockets deep and often enough in the transfer market.
That has been the familiar cry over the years from FS Gout-ers. We make transfer surpluses, they say. We’ve become a selling club – Torres and Suarez and Sterling and Coutinho. The owners have no ambition. They should either back us like Sheikh Mansour or Abramovitch or sell to someone who will. If City and Utd and Chelsea can have it, so should we. Match them pound for pound. Keep up with the football Jones’s.
I wanted to see how much water this argument holds, by delving into the transfer archives. So let’s do that movie thing where wavy lines appear on the screen and whooshy sound effects take us travelling back through time, back to November 2010.
We can instantly see all is not well in the enchanted kingdom of Liverpool Football Club. Its sheen is tarnished. It no longer sits at the top table, and it shops at Matalan instead of Harrods.
Twin evils stalked the land in the form of two dastardly American – let’s call them ‘businessmen’, although many more derogatory terms apply better – who had cunningly bought the realm without using their own wealth, and were giving the distinct impression of being hell-bent on destroying what they’d acquired.
Closer to home, a crusty reactionary old despot had been appointed in charge of the players, orchestrated by a mysterious man known to many as Cecil, who was malevolently pulling strings behind the scenes, and occasionally wandering onto centre stage too.
So out of touch with modern football was the old despot, he advised ‘fucking launch it’ as a tactic and advocated using a Ferrari called Torres as a tractor.
Alas, if unsurprisingly, it all ended in tears – and in court. The kingdom was on the point of collapse when, over the brow of the hill, came the FSG (or NESV as they were then) cavalry on their white chargers, bugles blaring, led by the gallant John Henry and his cohorts, galloping to Liverpool’s rescue in the nick of time so that all within the kingdom could live happily ever after.
A likely tale …
Yet comparing those troubled times with where the club is today, it is impossible not to conclude that the club is in almost unrecognisably better place now than it was then.
From having a less than stellar playing squad, no money to compete and an unsustainable wage bill that left us on the brink of administration, the club now have *the world’s most expensive defender and goalkeeper, a world elite manager, repeat Champions League qualification and appearance in a final, thrilling football, a group of people acclaimed for their cute transfer business, a reconnected and re-engaged crowd, an awesome new Main Stand, state-of-the-art new training facilities on the way and a future that looks so bright you need a pinhole camera just to look at it!
*when judged by the binary method of how much they cost, not allowing for inflation – as Paul Tomkins says in his current article 2018 – Liverpool’s Best Year For Transfers … EVER? Can Reds Finally Lift Title?, not to use inflation when consider transfer prices is like saying that the brand new Rolls Royce Phantom delivered to Princess Margaret in 1954 was actually cheap because it “only cost £8,500”; when of course it would be well over £200,000 in today’s money. To not use inflation means that a bespoke Rolls Royce limousine for royalty cost 50% less than a current Ford Fiesta. Hence, converting transfer fees to current day money is the only thing to do.
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