The new season is approaching rather rapidly now, isn’t it? It’s just over a week until we’ll be lining up against Manchester City in the Community Shield, which plenty of people from both sides will either claim to be a huge trophy that is indicative of how the campaign ahead will pan out or else declare to be meaningless, depending on how things pan out. Given I thought the Cityzens looked genuinely moronic when they included it in their list of trophies when they chose to declare themselves to be ‘Fourmidable’ at the end of 2018-2019, I’m not going to be changing my tune and suggesting that the match is anything other than one more glorified pre-season friendly regardless of who ends up winning it. That’s not to say that I don’t want to see our lads win, of course. Whilst it genuinely is just a friendly, beating City would give them a degree of confidence heading into the new campaign, especially when they failed to do so in two season-defining games last time out.
Suppose #LFC don’t sign any forward or attacking player before the Community Shield – 99% certain.
Mané won’t play the game as the club indicated.
So, we’ll probably go with Salah-Origi-Firmino up front most possibly against the best team in England in terms of quality.
— Rithwik Rajendran (@rithwikrajendra) July 24, 2019
As much as I don’t think it deserves all that much importance being attached to it in terms of the result, there’s no question that the Community Shield is the curtain-raiser for the season ahead. We’ll learn a certain amount from it, even if we won’t actually see the squad at its strongest thanks to the absence of Sadio Mané and the fact that the likes of Roberto Firmino, Alisson Becker and Mo Salah will only have been back training for a few weeks. What it will tell us is just how fit the team is and whether or not Jürgen Klopp has a few surprises up his sleeve. Will Adam Lallana be fit enough to start, for example? If so, will he play as the defensive midfielder and give Fabinho the freedom to play elsewhere, as the manager seems to be keen to experiment with? Perhaps more than anything else, it will be the German’s last chance to decide whether or not his squad needs strengthening, which he appears resolutely determined not to do. Why might that be?
Klopp Genuinely Believes We Don’t Need To Strengthen
Since Jürgen Klopp has come into the club he has extolled the virtues of training over spending money. In the build-up to the match with Real Madrid in the Champions League final in 2018, the German couldn’t help but talk about how the Spanish side were strong because they had been together for so long. It’s clear that he values the idea of working with his players, improving them on the training pitch and getting a tight-knit group of lads who are all pulling in the same direction and understanding his methods. I do believe him when he says that his squad is strong enough and that it will take a world-class player to improve them; or at least I believe that he believes that. I’d argue that that’s true of the first-team but that the squad as a whole could be improved relatively easily and without a huge outlay, but the only opinion that matters is the manager’s.
I think I’ve accepted we’re not making any big signings this summer. Couple subs maybe but nothing special. If Klopp trusts his squad then I trust him.
— Owen (@OSMLFC) June 19, 2019
The Community Shield match alone won’t tell us whether the manager’s faith in his squad is misplaced, but it will give us a very good idea. We know, for example, that Rhian Brewster is perhaps the reason why Michael Edwards is seemingly not shopping for a forward player this summer. If he can perform against City’s defence as he has managed against the backlines of the likes of Tranmere Rovers and Bradford City then maybe his confidence will be well-founded. Equally if Adam Lewis is able to step up and cope with the attacking prowess of Raheem Sterling then Klopp’s evident refusal to buy a backup left-back will be more understandable. City’s team won’t be at full strength either, of course, with both Sergio Agüero and Gabriel Jésus missing for the match. They’ll be just as keen to win it, though, so it’s a match we can look to as a touchstone for both the upcoming campaign and the manager’s belief in his squad.
I Don’t Think He’s Got Money To Spend
Ask anyone about Liverpool’s current financial situation and they’ll almost certainly tell you that we’re rich. We’re one of the richest club’s in world football, of course, so that’s understandable to an extent. Most people will point towards the likes of the TV money we were paid last season and how much we earned from winning the European Cup as proof that we’ve got money to burn this summer. In reality I’m not convinced that we have that much disposable income, for the simple reason that pretty much every player in the squad will have had a heavily incentivised contract, one of the incentives for which will almost certainly have been winning the Champions League. Let’s hypothesise that twenty players were owed a £5 million bonus the moment Jordan Henderson lifted ol’ Big Ears, that’s a £100 million deficit on the accounts before anything else has happened.
We’re Champions League winners, we’ve got Jürgen Klopp, we’ve got World Class players at the club, we’ve got Anfield, but we still haven’t won that trophy we’re all craving. This is our best chance of bringing in almost anyone we want. Why are we currently standing still?
— 6 (@AnfieldRd96) July 24, 2019
It’s likely that players such as Virgil van Dijk and Naby Keita were signed thanks to similar promises made to the selling clubs, with the Reds promising them extra amounts if we were to lift one of the two biggest trophies in club football. With that in mind, doesn’t it seem likely that we don’t have anywhere near the amount of money that most supporters seem to think we do? The answer to that from most quarters appears to be that the manager ‘doesn’t like spending money’, but I’m not sure that I agree with that either. The people saying that ‘this is Klopp’s way’ are missing a rather big point, which is that the manager has spent money every single summer since he’s been at the club. In terms of big name incomings alone, here’s the list with the year bought:
- Sadio Mané – 2016
- Georginio Wijnaldum – 2016
- Mohammed Salah – 2017
- Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 2017
- Virgil van Dijk – 2018
- Fabinho – 2018
- Naby Keïta – 2018
- Alisson – 2018
That list doesn’t even include smaller purchases like Andy Robertson and Xherdan Shaqiri, so the notion that the manager ‘doesn’t like to spend money’ is verifiably false. In fact, this summer would be the only one in which he hasn’t spent big bucks, so the idea of the manager ‘doing things his own way’ includes splashing the cash. With that in mind, I think the reason he’s not going into the market is far more likely to do with a lack of money to spend than it is anything to do with a desire not to spend it.