The Mitigating Circumstances Around Liverpool’s Collapse

Over the weekend, in the wake of Liverpool’s humiliating loss to Wolverhampton Wanderers, I was having a WhatsApp chat with some friends about the collapse that we’re seemingly all witnessing from the Reds. I posted a screenshot of it and got good feedback from people, so I thought it was worth expanding on the points that I made in the WhatsApp messages I sent. As is so often the way with Twitter, a number of people decided to reply and tell me what I missed out from my messages, rather than engaging with what I’d got right. For the avoidance of doubt, therefore, let me be absolutely clear: under-investment from the owners is a huge part of the reason why we are where we are. I think there are numerous reasons why the club has limited its spending in the way that it has, with the manager not being guilt-free, but that doesn’t mean that I am comfortable with what the owners have been doing in terms of limiting the spending of the club.

Indeed, I nearly wrote a piece today entitled ‘FSG Have Been Good Owners, But It’s Time To Change Strategy,’ but I couldn’t be bothered with the inevitable influx of #FSGOUT morons who refuse to see anything as nuanced. There is little question that Fenway Sports Group have made mistakes, with the ticket price hike and the European Super League being two obvious examples, but I think that, on balance, they’ve done more good for the club than harm. You don’t take over a £300 million football club and get it to be worth £4 billion simply by appointing a good manager and hoping for the best. As much as I think they’ve been good owners, though, it is difficult to escape the feeling that they are making a mistake in refusing to spend more money than they have. I don’t want us to be Chelsea, but the lack of investment in the playing staff has left us in the position that we’re now in. Add to that the manager’s sentimentality and it’s a recipe for disaster.

Heart-Break Takes Its Toll

I think it is all too easy for supporters to ignore just how difficult it will have been on the players to consistently miss out to cheats. It is interesting that I had already decided to write today’s piece before the news broke of the Premier League’s publication of its investigation into Manchester City and their dodgy dealings. No matter how many lawyers the club hires or what it’s supporters say, it is now written in black and white for all to see that the Etihad club cheated repeatedly for more than a decade. If we’re honest, they’re still cheating in the same way now. If you think I’m wrong and that actually they are more globally successful than Manchester United, Real Madrid and Barcelona then I’ve got some magic beans that might interest you. The players have missed out on two titles by a single title, gaining enough points to win the Premier League in virtually any other season both times.

That must be devastating. Add into that the heart-break of missing out on the Champions League because of a performance from Thibaut Courtois the likes of which we’ll never see again, all whilst the players and staff will have been worried that their families were being caught up in another Hillsborough and it’s easy to see why some are struggling for motivation this time around. We can say that it is a disgrace as much as we want, but I know supporters who were in Paris and have struggled to re-engage with the sport since. Personally, I’m struggling to feel engaged about football when I know that cheats like Manchester City continue to prosper, that Newcastle are succeeding after doing the same thing and that some of our supporters want Liverpool to be taken over by a sports-washing project for the same reason. I am not surprised that the players are feeling it hard to find any sort of motivation, especially now even top four looks like it’s gone.

There’s No Single Cause

As I mentioned in the introduction, the decision of the owners to be fiscally responsible has been the right way forward and, if Man City’s cheating wasn’t allowed, it would have led to four titles in the past ten years under FSG. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case and the under-investment is clear for all to see. Where I have some excess sympathy with them is that I think that the manager’s sentimentality has also led to problems. Realistically, none of Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, James Milner, Naby Keïta, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Fabinho Tavares should still be at the club. All of them, for varying reasons, should’ve been moved on, whilst Jordan Henderson’s contract shouldn’t have been extended when it was. Instead, those players have been run into the ground and are now too far gone to be sold for decent money, so we continue to need to play them, hoping that we’ll be able to get a tune out of them. You might have your own player to add to that list too.

That is, I think, a problem that is caused by a combination of the manager being too loyal and some behind-the-scenes upheaval that is leaving us listless. The decision of the owners to move Mike Gordon over to handling the sale means that Jürgen Klopp doesn’t have his sounding board and is, perhaps, being given too much power. The departure of Michael Edwards was problematic, but I think it’s likely that he really did just want a break from from football; especially if the fact that he hasn’t taken on a new job is anything to go by. That Julian Ward has also decided to leave and that Dr. Ian Graham is also on the way out is concerning. We used to be the best-run club in the world, yet now we look like a shambles. Can anything be done to rectify that? I’m not sure, but I do think that it’s contributing to what we’re seeing play out on the pitch. The manager is a genius, but he can’t do it on his own. Can the owners fix this before it’s all too late?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *