Free Friday, June 11th 2021 – Flawed Football Finances and the Euros Kick Off

Free Friday, June 11th 2021 – Flawed Football Finances and the Euros Kick Off
June 11, 2021 Daniel Rhodes
In Free, Free Friday


Best posts of the week, as chosen by Chris Rowland and Daniel Rhodes.

1 -L7Kenny recounting an inspiring experience:

Where I work we have a big group of us who support many different Clubs, mainly the top 6, plus Everton, Leeds, Newcastle and the likes of Bradford and Sunderland. We created a WhatApp group and the discussion are civilised, despite the odd funny meme. It is always about the game and most agree about how poorly it is run. All agree to the fact that nearly all journalists, commentators and pundits are now lazy and predictable and that Social Media is a complete basket case of ugliness and insanity… Sodem & Gamarra.

I was out all day Sunday coaching. I attended a training course in the morning for coaches that taught us how to coach individuals with disabilities and also individuals with learning difficulties. Fantastic course. At lunchtime the participants who were our volunteers were chatting with me. They asked if I was from Liverpool and then naturally a red or a blue. They then told me the teams they supported. A fair number of them supported Man Utd and Man City. They then went on to discuss Liverpool injuries and even some of the decisions we didn’t get and stated that their own Teams would have truly struggled to achieve much this season if they had our ill fortune. It was a refreshing conversation and apparently these individuals have learning difficulties. I found them to be knowledgeable, pleasant, engaging and enjoyable company to be around.

At the end of the day though we discovered that our belongings had been ransacked were we had stored them. After searching the huge compound that we had placed everything we discovered the culprit. A homeless man who had walked past the main security gates into the complex (no pun intended, but it beggared belief as it’s a double gated system and CCTV etc). Anyways we recovered all the items and then provided this person with food and water and something to cover his head (hot sunny day) and got him professional support. Despite the fact this individual had committed theft against the group, all were compassionate in their handling of the problem. This individual clearly had mental health problems and was equally an opportunist when it came to survival on the streets.

Anyways what Sunday again taught me is that it is the media and Social Media that ramp up everything to extremes and yet so much more can be achieved by being calm, rationale, collaborative and engaging.

2 – Jeff with a personal reflection on the anniversary of the D-Day landings:

I just got off the phone with a life long or nearly lifelong friend whose dad died in the water just off the beaches of Normandy on 6 June 1944. I am curious to learn how many people know what happened on this day or know someone who stormed ashore in France on this day or know anyone who fought in WW2?

My friend never met his father and he first visited his dad’s grave when I was a student many years ago and it was only a year or so before his mother died that she agreed to come to France to visit his grave. I accompanied them and the visit was one of the hardest tasks I have ever done because he had died darn near 60 years ago and he never knew his son or grew old with his wife and my friend never knew his father.

Every year we talk on D-Day and as the years go by fewer and fewer people know what happened on D-Day and the survivors are today only a handful and they will not be with us much longer.

3 – MikeH on the impact of COVID-19 on football finances:

There are a lot of numbers flying about. I’m still in the camp that thinks football finances are seriously screwed. It does not seem likely that attendances will be at 100% at the start of the season. As a normal club how do you plan for so little visibility?

Dealing with pressing issues (like our centre-backs) is a clear priority but I expect another window where the vast majority of deals will be frees and loans.

Bloated wage bills will be addressed and that can’t be done overnight as players are totally intransigent even pre COVID-19.

Deferred payment schedules are fine but still require paying and simply remove monies from the future.
Taking on debt is fine if you are confident of finances going forward but the debt repayment schedule will still need addressing.

I would estimate that the total cost to us is currently circa north of £120m( and we’re one of the stronger ones). There is always a merry-go-round effect, big deal money trickles down and around but top players know they’re now better off running contracts down.

I really believe football finances and transfers will be permanently changed as a result of COVID-19. Unfortunately, favouring clubs who were already flouting rules.

How we evolve in the next 3 seasons will be interesting. We have a lot of contract issues on the horizon. The team will really have their work cut out!

4 – Tash on the make-up of our squad:

‘On paper’ we certainly look well stocked at the back and in midfield, but I would still be sceptical going into a new season with the current stock of midfielders. I’m very happy with the situation at CB and would see the sense in loaning Rhys if we believe Davies can provide the same cover. I very much hope that that’s the case.

In midfield, I would expect more from Curtis this season as he continues to progress, but I see him largely as the counter-weight to Milner winding down even if they operate differently. Perhaps there remains a little extra in our favour as Milner continues to defy the odds, but not a great deal. But it is Milner, so who knows?

I have no idea what whether we will keep or loan Elliot, but would only expect limited appearances from him if he stays. With Shaq surely on his way (alongside Grujic and Wilson – whose absences won’t be noted at all) then it still pretty much boils down to Keita and Ox replacing Gini. And I’ll be honest, that would concern me massively. More so when neither of Fabinho, Thiago or Henderson can be described as entirely injury-free. They all tend to miss periods, albeit not at a level that would concern you as individuals.

I do hope and expect more appearances from Keita and Ox, but it’s precisley because of their records that I think we need to have enough cover to provide the option to rotate them before a problem occurs. I certainly don’t think we can expect them to be injury free or injured on a rotation basis. So perhaps there is a spot for one of Wilson or Grujic afterall – with a place on the fringes from where one of them can ‘Phillips’ the doubters. But again, it would concern me to take that approach as it would feel like a gamble and it would come on the back of a previous gamble (albeit a calculated one) backfiring the season before at CB. There would be little room for forgiveness, both in the stands and on social media if we were seen to take another risk and it go agaist us.

Up front, on the assumption that Origi goes, then the normal big question would simply be, Does Taki return? If Yes, then maybe we can forgo signing someone there. But with the AfCon on the horizon, probably not.

So one midfielder and one attacker for me.

5 – Nick M on the potential signing of Sancho for Manchester United:

I think Sancho is a fantastic player but that said I haven’t watched full games only the highlights of his BVB games. What Sancho will do, is open up space for others simply because 1 v 1 he has the beating of most defenders and therefore teams will double up on him.

I think he is an ambitious young man and while there have been minor issues I don’t get the impression that he is a dick who would undermine team spirit etc. If he was I think Dortmund would have lowered their price last year and got rid. I get the impression that he is well liked over there and I personally would love to see him sign for us, not United.

Lets not do this whole he’s signing for Utd therefore he’s a dick or not as good as he appears to be. Time will tell but I think he could be one of the best English players we have seen.

2018/19 played 49 games, scored 14 assists 16
2019/20 played 44 games, scored 19 assists 18
2020/21 played 52 games, scored 18 assists 19

The lad is 21 and currently posting numbers similar or better than Messi at the same age although he may have played a few more games. His record is phenomenal and it is hard to believe that he won’t actually get better. I am not saying he is going to be as good as Messi but the stats show he is not too dissimilar at the same age and it is just whether he continues to push on and improve in the way the Messi and Ronaldo did. Next season or the one after is around the age Messi and Ronaldo started to move up through the gears and that is a scary prospect, even more so if he is in a Utd shirt.

6 – Tony McKenna on the possible flaws with the signing:

Far be it for me to judge Sancho’s talent because I hardly know enough about him, yet his numbers can’t be ignored. However, I don’t think this is the main consideration in these unusual times. During this pandemic, (yes, we’re still in it: on the precipice of uncertainty regarding a `third wave`), the chips we bring to the table are not solely dependent on the roulette wheel. It`s also about money already lost, and that which we may be at risk of losing in the future.

If most have already discounted a third wave, then John Henry probably has not. An experienced trend follower in the financial markets always knows about the perennial susceptibility to drawdowns. You need to factor these in. No strategy can forever transcend the externalities that impact on markets. But, at least you can position yourself for randomness and not go too mad even at the best of times. And, god knows, these are the worse of times.

So, the issue is about allocating a sizeable percentage of your chips into just one asset. Which, we should bear in mind, is a bet with less than a fifty per cent chance of working out. Would you gamble millions on the toss of a coin: where the odds are actually slightly better? So, this is the crux for me; and why I feel apprehensive about our forays into the marketplace. The uncertainty is far greater given the pandemic dilemma. Especially since most have already discounted it as a bygone influence.

How much will Sancho’s salary be? £400k per week? De Gea, practically a second stringer now, is on £350k. How much will his transfer fee be? Well, given the United bid already rejected, we seem to be in a market place where prices reign as though a pandemic never happened; and that a third wave never will.

This is before the need to consider that some players do not transition to the PL successfully. Chelsea provide a topical testament: if Werner continues to struggle it could be a repeat of a Shevchenko and a Torres. Then, of course, there is the prospect of injuries that is a risk with all players. In this respect, and though young, Sancho has not been immune.

In all of these contexts, you end up with money tied to one asset with no return. The funds can`t be quickly released and allocated elsewhere. Not to mention that this marketplace is also different because 2 of the usual apex predators may have had their prowess diluted: Real Madrid and Barcelona.

This may have cleared the floor for others, but heightening the prospect of the winners curse.

Articles published since last Friday, with excerpts:

Monday June 7th:

Liverpool’s Secret Stars For 2021/22 Are Ready and Waiting, by Paul Tomkins.

Liverpool will be adding £300m-worth of players this summer – simply by moving them from the long-term gym rehabilitation to the training pitches of preseason.

It could be easy to forget – with the focus on Virgil Van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Jordan Henderson (three big leaders and one super-quick and versatile defender) – how many other players had their 2020/21 ruined or limited by serious injury, and even the few of those able to get fit again in the spring were excluded in the run-in due to the necessity for stability over rotation.

Tuesday 8th:

Liverpool’s 2020/21 Goals DNA – End Of Season Review, by Andrew Beasley.

All goals are equal but some are more equal than others. They might give your side the lead, they perhaps reduce the deficit from four to three, or they may stretch the lead to seven purely to make Roy Hodgson’s day that little bit worse.

All of these scenarios were seen from Liverpool’s perspective in 2020/21, so let’s see who was responsible. Nobody here needs reminding that Mohamed Salah was top scorer, so let’s add a little value to the goals.

Wednesday 9th:

The Euros 2021 – a TTT Guide (Is Anyone Bothered?), by Chris Rowland.

Euro 2020 begins a year late on Friday, June 11th, kick off 20.00 UK time, with Italy v Turkey in Rome the curtain-raiser, the prospect of which should leave plenty of surplus adrenaline for future encounters like Finland v Russia and Ukraine v North Macedonia.

There were 11 venues at the last count, including Wembley, Hampden Park in Glasgow, Dublin, Rome, Amsterdam, Munich, Copenhagen, Seville, St.Petersburg, Budapest, Bucharest, Baku (despite no local involvement for the last two), and the Alpha Centauri star system, as UEFA take their mission to drive the game’s spread to its logical conclusion.