Just over seven years ago, Liverpool staged their remarkable comeback in Istanbul to beat AC Milan in the Champions League Final. They found themselves on top of Europe albeit with a somewhat average squad containing the likes of Smicer, Kewell, Biscan and the king of own goals, Jimi Traore. Most highs are followed by a low in life and Liverpool certainly find themselves in a bad place right now
There has been a visible decline in fortunes over on the Red side of Merseyside, despite their recent appearance in both FA Cup and Carling Cup finals, not least indicated by finishing 7th, 6th and 8th in the last 3 season, eventually culminating in the sacking of their latest saviour ‘King’ Kenny as he lead the team to finish behind Merseyside rivals Everton.
While the likes of City, United and Chelsea are targeting flair players from the best teams in the world, Liverpool seem content to pay over the odds for British players. £35m was spent on Andy Carroll, a young and relatively inexperienced Striker from Newcastle who had learned most of his trade in the Championship as Newcastle eased to promotion. A further £17+m was spent on England U21 international Midfielder Jordan Henderson from Sunderland. Again, a big money move after only really having 1 ‘decent’ season in the Premier League. Stewart Downing preceded those two, arriving from Aston Villa for around £20m. A player who seems to have had his best days as a youngster at Middlesbrough, but seemingly happy enough to receive a large wage and regular England call ups based on a mysterious perceived reputation he has gained. An over-rated, out of his depth former Blackpool player was bought for 7m (Adam) and an alleged ear-biting, racist cheat had 23m lavishly splashed out on him (Suarez).
Everton fans take great delight in proclaiming more success from Jelavic, Pienaar and Gibson for a total spend of £7m plus a loan fee, than Liverpool’s spend of £73m on the three aforementioned players. Also, the fact that Tim Howard scored more goals than Stewart Downing last season is not lost on the Liverpool fans. It’s somewhat puzzling then, that after such a poor inconsistent season, Liverpool find themselves with Gerrard, Downing, Kelly and Henderson all in the England squad. Maybe it’s Hodgson favouring his ex-Liverpool buddies, or more likely a reflection of just how poor the standard of English football is.
King Kenny followed the perilous path of previous managers. You know the drill by now. Manager takes the job and is instantly hailed as the saviour. Predictably good start under a new boss quickly turns to inconsistency. Players and fans alike become confused with team selections (e.g. Jay Spearing consistently playing ahead of Argentine international Maxi Rodriguez). Gerrard gets injured. Players start to complain publicly when it starts to go wrong. Gerrard regains fitness just in time to spur them on to cup success. Club continue to struggle against the likes of Norwich, Wolves, Wigan et al in the league. Their creative winger creates no goals and scores no goals in the entire campaign. The end.
In all honesty, it wasn’t the first time dubious transfers had been abound. Robbie Keane anyone? Joins Liverpool for £19m at the start of the season, announces his boyhood love for the club, scores 5 in 19 games, then rejoins Spurs during the January transfer window for £13m. Terrible mismanagement at whatever level the buck stops.
I wish Brendan Rogers all the best in his new job, he’ll be world class if he can sort out all of these problems…. and more.