herald

Monday 17 December 2018

reds PUT THE RUBBISH OUT

Liverpool bloodletting finally complete as last of 19 flops leave Anfield

At the last, Liverpool's bloodletting was complete. This has been a summer of revolution, a great leap forward of unprecedented proportions.

Kenny Dalglish and Damien Comolli, at the behest of the club's owners, have ushered 19 players out of Liverpool's doors. The final two, Raul Meireles and Philipp Degen, departed with just minutes of the transfer window to spare. The past is finished. Let the future begin.

Fourteen players have been sold or released, and a further five put out on loan, most notably Joe Cole and Alberto Aquilani.

An astounding £30m has been wiped from the wage bill, and a little over £20m raised in funds.

Trimming does not describe it; this has been all-out attack on the errors of the past. Only Brad Jones and Danny Wilson remain of Roy Hodgson's signings, and only three of the 14 signed by Rafael Benitez in his final two years at the club.

Less than a year after Fenway Sports Group (FSG) bought into Anfield, Liverpool have undergone a second Night of the Long Knives. This one, though, has lasted all summer.

Some were rather more willing than others to stand aside. Paul Konchesky accepted a wage cut to join Leicester. Nabil El Zhar, Emiliano Insua, Milan Jovanovic and, eventually, Degen agreed to cancel their contracts, albeit for lucrative settlements.

Liverpool will continue to pay for the mistakes that have gone before. Lille insist Liverpool will continue to supply 60pc of Cole's £80,000-a-week wage -- £2.5million for his season in France.



RUTHLESS

Christian Poulsen's move to Evian has been subsidised, too, but that is rather the point: FSG see their glass as half-full, not half-empty. At least the £2.5m paid to Cole while he is in France saves £1.65m. That is the ruthlessness that has pervaded Liverpool's summer.

FSG were determined to build a more cost-effective squad, and were prepared to withstand the short-term cost to do so. Hence their decision to spend big and spend early.

"The owners were happy to take risks and happy for us to spend money," said Comolli. "A lot of owners would have said the squad is too big, so you need to reduce, and then when you have done that, bring some players in, but that was never the approach. I told them we would need to buy first and they were very, very brave to accept that."

Nowhere was that cut-throat approach better witnessed than with Meireles. The Portuguese was not desperate to leave, but was left with no choice after seeing Jordan Henderson and Charlie Adam recruited and a broken promise to augment his £35,000-a-week wage, should his first season be a success.

Discussions never started. In the end, he had to hand in a transfer request and forego a loyalty payment to smooth his escape to Chelsea.

Few Liverpool fans would have sold Meireles, particularly not to a bitter foe and especially not for £12m, roughly what Hodgson paid for the Portugal international last summer. That is the measure of the new Liverpool, though. Those who are not required will be cast aside.

"For me, the players they have signed have largely been British, which takes me back to when I started watching Liverpool," said Craig Bellamy, the final piece of incoming business carried out by Dalglish.

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