Wednesday 20 February 2019

Transfer numbers shackle prudent Jurgen

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp

Like any Premier League manager in a spot of bother, Jurgen Klopp didn't hesitate to toss out a well-timed deflection by hinting darkly that all the players at Anfield should be shuffling in their seats.

Under some real pressure for the first time as Liverpool boss, he followed a tried and trusted script. It's not him, it's the players and to be fair, he has a point.

Daniel Sturridge is the best example. Does he play football any more?

The media took the bait. "Clearout" blared the obvious headlines after Klopp declared that the rest of the season is a live audition and that no player should feel safe.

After Liverpool lost to Wolves in the FA Cup a few weeks ago, Klopp looked shell-shocked and repeated more than once his judgement that the depth from the Kirkby Academy through to the senior squad was not strong enough or "ready" as he put it.

Presumably, Stevie Gerrard's appointment as the Academy chief is intended to address things at the under-age end but if Klopp wants to add the substance to his senior group, he must bin some of his habits.

He likes to build from the ground up but Klopp needs to spend time in the transfer market penthouse.

Many former Liverpool legends have complained about the absence of real quality at Anfield for more than a decade.

An endless parade of players came and went without ever registering on the consciousness and the ones that stuck have proven to be mostly lightweight and unreliable.

Klopp has managed to beef up Adam Lalana's ability to last the pace in the Premier League from a career average 70 minutes to the full 90.

He's still full of running these days when games enter the final ten minutes but where does he run to? Is there any real point to Lalana other than to run and run?

There have been many like him over the years and Klopp's squad is riddled with squad players and not enough men who demand first choice status.

That's Klopp's biggest problem. He needs top class players with Champions League talent now and the only way to get that is swallow hard and sign the cheque.

So if really is planning a slash and burn summer, accountancy will be very important to him in June, July and August.

He will have to reach ninja level wheeling and dealing or Liverpool will have to borrow heavily.

Liverpool released their financial results up to May 2016 yesterday and they lost money.

Turnover increased by a couple of million but more significantly, debt is down from £400m when FSG bought the club to just £40m, a huge change and a welcome one for Liverpool fans.

Between 2015/16 they bought 12 players, fired Brendan Rodgers and his staff and hired Klopp and his retinue. They also built the new main stand.

All of that was expensive business and with no massive injection of cash to match the £75m fee they received from Barca for Luis Suarez, the club recorded losses just shy of £20m.

It is obvious from the numbers that there is no big pile of loot burning a hole in an Anfield vault.

Undoubtedly, they are on a much better financial footing given the fact that Liverpool almost went to the wall under Hicks and Gilette just six short years ago.

Redevelopment at Anfield has been completed and the club has expanded into new markets around the world. All told, a solid enough position and a deficit which would be wiped clean by Champions League qualification.

But the Kop have been watching Arsene Wenger at the Emirates and see how ambition has fatlly diluted by his stubborn financial rectitude.

While he delivered Champions League revenue, the shareholders were happy.

This season, everyone connected with Liverpool would be relieved, positvely beaming if Klopp can somehow steer his Unreliables into the Top Four.

But what about next season or the one after that?

Liverpool' supporters have already done the long wait in the wilderness and they desperately need some kind of tangible success.

There's a wonderful living, breathing example of how one, seasoned professional with a heavy CV and the right attitude can transform a very big club's season.

Nobody rated Zlatan Ibrahimovic when he was signed by Jose Mourinho apart from Mourinho. The main discussion surrounding the Swedish striker was how long he would last if he didn't gel with Wayne Rooney.

But Mourinho had personal experience to lean on when he signed him and look at the result. Without him, Manchester United have no season.

Klopp would never buy Zlatan and that suits the owners fine but the Kop is desperate for big characters to follow, desperate for some players to add to the Liverpool story.

There is no longer any patience for team building and even clubs like Liverpool and Arsenal, traditionally keen to give managers as much time as they need and perhaps more than they deserve, are moving in that direction.

So Klopp knows that he has one more window to get it right and find a half dozen cheap, ready made first team starters.

That will test Klopp and FSG.

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