About Me

I have been a Red since I was about 6 or 7. My boyhood hero was Kenny Dalglish and I have an autograph from him while he was still at Celtic. Thanks Gran! As such I gravitated towards the team he played for. So I have been Scottish-South African- Scoucer for about 30 years now! I am extremely passionate about our club, and have felt the need to start this blog in the face of the abject nature of our performaces under Benitez and the Hicks/Gillett ownership.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Rodgers the Transfer Bodger

I was looking to do this before Xmas to run through the money we have spent and what we have really got for our money. It wont make pretty reading and Robbie Savage has summarised this on the BBC Sport website. I include his link here http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/30516598 

I will try and delve a bit deeper as to our ethos and approach rather than just focusing on the amount spent and the players bought, although that is key. Despite the title of this post the blame cannot be laid solely at Brendan Rodgers door. Ian Ayre bears a huge amount of responsibility for the over inflated prices we pay and not being strong enough to walk away from deals.

For those not fully au fait with Ian Ayre and his role at the club here is brief summary. He was headhunted by Hicks and Gillett in March to become our Commercial Director in March 2007. He was  responsible for the Standard Chartered sponsorship deal. At the time it was one of the most lucrative shirt deals  for a football team. When Werner and Henry took over Chris Purslow, the last of the Commoli,Dalglish triumvirate stepped down and Ian Ayre appointed as Managing Director in October 2010. So he is responsible for helping negotiate our transfers.

Our overarching ethos on transfers is to sign young players, preferably U23, then develop them further. While that seems like a sound long-term policy it does leave us open to vagaries of youth and the inconsistency in form of players of that age. Additionally you may not make a return on the investment as they may not develop as expected but as long as you are not paying over the odds that can work.

That for me is where we are failing. We are paying far too much for unproven talent or to use Rodgers favourite phrase 'potential'. We have signed lots player for sums in the teens of millions yet when we sell an academy player of our own between 20-23 years old we seem to be happy with £1-4mill. Surely that isn't right? Either we are underselling our lot or not negotiating properly for the incomings. The evidence would suggest both. 

This transfer policy seems at odd with our goal of getting back into the top 4 consistently and ultimately challenging for the League occasionally.  

I do think we can win the League as long as Chelski,Man City and ManUre have the financial clout that they do. Arsenal are equally dangerous under the new Fair Play rules as they are well within the rules and have dropped a £40million player into the squad the last 2 seasons (Ozil and Sanchez).

We are attempting a 'Moneyball' scenario but unfortunately we are not playing by the same rules as American sports do where everyone is in the same boat. There is no Draft and only limited financial constraints on how to conduct business.

In total we have signed 24 players since Rodgers took over. Eight of them have already left and several are on loan.... Not a good sign that 1/3 arent good enough. The issue isnt so much that they don't make it, its the fact that most of them barely get on the bench and have rarely even got on as subs..... So why did we buy them???  Its not like they get a chance and dont perform. Its almost like we sign them blind and then are disappointed that they arent what Rodgers thinks they are.....

So the 1st wave of players under Rodgers came in the summer of 2012. 

The 1st of those was Fabio Borini for £10.5mill, ex-Chelski academy player whom Rodgers had worked with before, in from Roma. after havingThere he scored an impressive 9 goals in 20 starts at the Stadio Olympico club. Of course he had also been on loan at Swansea under Rodgers and scored 6 goals in 12 starts in their promotion push to the Premier League.  

Yet from the get go with this lad Rodgers hasn't really given him a chance. He totals 35 appearances and has only scored 3 goal for us in 2.5 years.  Ironically his best spell was on loan at Sunderland last year where he scored 10 goals in keeping them up and reaching the Capital One Cup. Who can ever forget his winner against Chelsea!

So you would think he would feature this season. Instead with only a week of the window to go and no real replacement for Suarez, he is told he can leave the club. Thankfully he has decided to stay and fight but again he has basically been snubbed by Rodgers. After signing Balotelli he can hardly then play Borini in his stead when Sturridge got injured.  I think that is exactly what he should have done. He likes playing on the shoulder, he runs in behind and is genuinely lively in the box. everytime he plays you can see he is over trying. As a transfer its a fail but that's down to the manager for me. He clearly doesn't fancy him despite having lumped on him in the 1st place.

Next Joe Allen from his previous club Swansea for the ridiculous sum of £15million. Allen and Leon Britton had pass completion stats comparable with Xavi and Iniesta in the high 90 percentile. But seriously they were doing in front of the back 4 not on the edge of the opponents 18 yard box. Hugely over priced and even when fit is nothing more than a bench warmer. 79 appearances and 3 goal from the Welsh hobbit ticcy-taccy expert isnt good enough. Will expect to see him moved on in the summer for a huge loss.

Joining these 2 'Major' signing was Oussama Assaidi for £3mill from Heerenveen, Samir Yesil for £1mill from Leverkusen and lastly Nuri Sahin on loan from Madrid who had him on loan from Dortmund. The last was deemed so poor he was sent back to Dortmund in the January window and bizarrely played in the Champions League final that year! Assaidi was moved on this summer. Yesil is still on our books but is generally injured and I cant see him threatening the 1st team ever... So 1st window a disaster really.

January 2013 and the exception that proves the rule with Rodgers and Ayre. Yes we signed some decent players who actually play football in the 1st team! Daniel Sturridge from Chelski for £12mill and Phillippe Coutinho for £8.5mill from Inter. The former we could have had as part of the Torres/Carroll deal which still irks and I believe it actually cost us £120mill to fix that mess! Coutinho came with reputation of being injury prone but he hit the ground running and is by far  our most creative player. 2 big hits, well done!!!

Then we come to summer 2013 when Brendan Rodgers really started to put his stamp on the squad. In came Kolo Toure on a free, Moses and Cissokho from Chelski and Valencia respectively. Only Toure is really passable as a signing from those 3. 

Actual money spent and some of this will surprise you as to how much we have paid. 

 Aspas £7.7mill from Celta Vigo (in Spanish 2nd Div at the time - WTF), Luis Alberto for £6.8mill from Sevilla and last but not least Tiago Illoro from Sporting Lisbon for £7mill! These 3 have again not sniffed the 1st team much and are so good they are all on season long loans at Sevilla, Malaga and Bordeaux respectively. That is £21.5mill spent on 3 guys who will probably get moved on in summer for a couple of mill each. Epic triple fail!

But wait there is more £18mill for Mamadou Sakho from PSG and £9mill for Simon Mingolet from Sunderland. Initially the latter looked a good move with 4 cleansheets and that pen save against Stoke on the opening day. From there is has been slowing downhill to a man who is a trembling wreck anytime the ball is within 30 yard of him or the goal. As for Sakho if that clown is good enough to play for France they wont win a thing ever. Plays with his head down and looks like a less composed Djimi Traore! How is that even possible??? 2 more epic fails.  So that's £50mill wasted in that window.

Thankfully we didn't trade last Jan, that was the start of our juggernaut start to almost win the league.

So we get to the summer lose Suarez after yet another biting incident and you would think the priority is to sign a new top notch striker. All summer Lambert and Lallana were coming so those were done deals without the Suarez money. £4mill for Lambert and yes £25mill for Lallana!! I have no issue with signing these 2 but the price for Lallana is ridiculous. Fabregas only cost £5mill more!

Lambert has looked totally out of his depth. he hasn't recovered from missing pen on pre-season and has been usurped by Sterling and Borini in the striker pecking order. Lallana has been injured and has shown some signs of being useful but currently warming the bench. 1 fail 1 undecided....

The 3rd Saint to join us was Dejan Lovren for another £20mill! He looked great in the pre-season game against Dortmund and had an  OK debut against So'ton but its really not worked for him. He and Sakho are suppose to be leaders and tighten the back 4 all I see is chaos. Only 6 months in but he looks like another fail.

Dont look await there are more horrors to come. Lazar Markovic  for guess.... Yep £20mill from Benfica! He is 20 for crying in a bucket!!! Somewhere between £5-10mill is reasonable. Not £20 you are expecting the finished article for that amount. Not fair on the kid either, there are signs he might be a decent player in the last month but unless he goes on to be John Barnes or Steve McManaman he will be a fail!

Then we have young Alberto Moreno for £12mill from Sevilla. Again a bit pricey but we did need a left back, thing he is slowly getting there. Looks happier as a wing back than a fullback. Undecided so far.

Emre Can £10mill from Leverkusen again only 20 despite his size. Not really got a look in until the last month. looked to be carrying some timber when he arrived so probably fitness related. Player as the right centre back in our back 3 at the moment. Not bad there but ultimately think he will sit in front of the defence. Can pick a pass, physical presence and is actually quite quick and skillful. Undecided on this one.

Divock Origi for £12mill from Lille, immediately loaned back for the season. think he might be an absolute gem when he comes. Like Sterling but with more goals. Undecide,d as we haven't seen him but might be a hit.

Javier Manquillo on loan from Athletico Madrid. A totally strange one. We have Wisdom, Flanagan, Johnson and at the time Kelly as right backs. How many do we need? Wisdom is on loan, Kelly gone to Palace and Johnson and Flano injured. But he is not being used much so expect him to go back without troubling the starter in the summer.

I have saved the best until last. Mario Balotelli for £16mill from AC Milan. What were we thinking? He doesn't fit the way we play. Man City actually advised us not to waste our time and money signing him. But no this is the best we could do to replace Suarez????? Really???? Completely uninterested in playing football. No touch, no passing no effort no goals. Enner Valencia cost £8mill we could have bought Pelle and had change... Where is this famed 180 page dossier on players??? EPIC FAIL of unmentionable proportions. Why, because who the hell is going to take him off our hands???

Rodgers backed himself into a corner when he signed him. He immediately had to play him ahead of Lambert and Borini when Sturridge got injured and he hasn't scored a league goal. All he does is lose control of the ball or turn and instantly shoot no matter what the ridiculous angle is.

Rodgers criticised Spurs for spending £140mill last season by saying you should be winning the league if you spend that much in 1 go. How that has come back to haunt him. Of course if we have spent the money on 4-5 decent players instead of taking chances on 8 we might not be where we are.

Ian Ayre and Brendan Rodgers need to have their heads knocked together by the owners. We cant spend money like we have and not get into the CL and compete, its shocking. Ian Ayre goes on wild goose chases to Ukraine (last Jan). You see a player is available for £Xmill and when  we sign them its always loads more!!! Mental, We need to adopt ManUre tactic. 'There is the offer if you dont want it we will spend it elsewhere.'

Hopefully we have enough with Sturridge back, Markovic and Can showing signs of getting to grips with whats needed. Serious thought needs to be given to our strategy in the summer. There is likely to be a fire sale at Dortmund as they sit bottom of the Bundesliga with the wheels coming off the Klippity  Klop wagon. So there should be bargains. Marco Reus, Hummels, Bender etc... But will we get any or will we pay over the odds. I fear the latter again.

In short if Brendan Rodgers and Ian Ayre went into Poundland with a fiver they would come out with no change, only 1 item instead of 5 and the bag it was in would have a hole in it.....

Ah well thankfully the window is closed and we wont have worry about Danny Ings joining until the summer!



Are We Turning the Corner?

We had a terrible time in October and November. Other than Chelski we had fixtures against West Brom, QPR, Hull, Newcastle, Palace, Stoke and Leicester. Even without Sturridge you would have thought we would still get the results and it was great opportunity for Balotelli and Lambert to step up.

Yet again we were left feeling angry and disappointed. Despite the relative easy run of fixtures we managed just 4 wins. A brace as bookends to that particular run. The QPR win was bizarre. Own-goals all over the place in the last 7 minutes. We then managed just 1 point from the next 4 and managed to make a pigs ear of Champions League group. Other than Real Madrid and Basel in the away leg we should have made a decent fist of it. We scored just 5 goals conceded 9 and the only win was with a dodgy pen at home in the last minute at home to Ludogarets.

The reasons for this poor run are simple:
1) Complete lack of defensive organisation and confidence. We seem to have been picking a different 4 players every week. The goalkeeper was particularly dodgy and as far as I am concerned continues to be so. He is being asked to be a footballer which he isn't. That lack of confidence has spread to other parts of his game and ultimately to his defence in front of him and they have been panicky enough. Lovren has brought the stability and leadership desired.

2) Teams have worked us out. Simple really, press us when the ball is in our half someone is bound to give it away. If we are dominating the ball, drop deep with 2 banks of 4 and play on the break. oh yes and just wait for a corner or freekick for a free goal!

3) Lack of a cutting edge upfront. We have tried Balotelli but he clearly actually interested in playing football. I have said it before, I have no idea who decided this guy can even play football. He has no touch, zero tactical awareness, no work ethic and the worst attitude and demeanour on the pitch. Ricky Lambert and Fabio Borini have had to sit and watch this £16mill waster do absolutely nothing, its hardly helped their confidence.

So we stumbled into December with little hope or optimism and facing a trip to The Theatre of delusions and the Gunners at home.Ming-ing-olet finally dropped although Brad Jones isn't really a step forward. Despite the rather lopsided scoreline and the customary offside goal we utter smashed Manure. David De Gea continues to be their best player and the only reason they are not in the bottom 5 never mind the top 4. 9 saves and about 4 of them Worldies.

Having said all that Rodgers was convinced he had stumbled onto something. Playing with a back 3, using Markovic and Moreno as wing backs and playing Raheem through the middle. We had 19 shots and 9 on target against ManUre which is a vast improvement on the 7 shots and just 1 against Sunderland at home the week before.

So on to Arsenal and yet another bizarre encounter. We deservedly took the lead just before half-time only to go to sleep as usual injury time just before halftime. Arsenal then went 2-1 up through Giroud. Needless to say we threw everything at them and deservedly got the equaliser deep in injury time. A bit of Quid Pro Quo. Again we had an amazing 27 shots but only 10 on target.

Fair play to Rodgers he seemed to have found something we can work with. Since then we have gone 6 more league games without losing with just 1 draw and amazingly 4 clean sheets. Yes the opposition for the most part has been most mediocre but we have been less than clinical against the lesser teams. 2-0 up against Leicester, we managed to throw it away.

So have turned a corner? The proof will be in the next 3 fixtures. Everton away, Southampton away and Man City at home. We need 6 or 7 points form those 3 games as despite the run of 7 games undefeated we have actually only moved up 2 league places. More importantly we are just 5 points from 3rd place, so the games against the teams around us are critical.

The return of Daniel Sturridge is very timely indeed we must hope there are no re-lapses for the rest of the season. With him as our spearhead I can't see us not getting into the top 4. We cant afford to lose too many more games possibly only the City game and away at Chelski. The rest will have to be wins. Including Arsenal at the Emirates. We went on crazy run last season and will have to do so again.

Rodgers has also recalled Jordan Ibe from his loan spell at Derby where he seems to have done quite well. I would like to tell you his appearance, assists,goals and Man of the Match awards but neither our Website or Derby's makes any reference to his existence as a player there form a stats point of view! LOL So much for the information age!

Another good decision in this window is to leave Divock Origi out on loan. No point in bringing him back this season. Sterling is showing he can play through the middle if required. God help the League next season when we can unleash Sturridge, Origi, Sterling and Ibe! 

So there are shoots of a recovery but I think we are paying for our transfer policy in general. You cant say you will sign and develop younger players and then expect consistency form them. That takes until their mid to late twenties to develop. 

Lets hope we can build on our momentum and really push for a top place. It would be awesome if we could keep ManUre out again. No doubt they will come up with a cunning plan to allow their U9 kit to be sponsored by McDonalds for £150mill like they did with their training kit last summer to make up for the lack of Champions League football!

I will be doing another blog about our transfer policy and the various decisions we have made.