Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Brendan Rodgered?

Problems at Anfield have become all too frequent for many years now. But even during all the long years under the shadow from Old Trafford there has always been light at the end of the famous tunnel in the shape of some fine cup wins and one famous night in Istanbul.

Along the way there have been a myriad of fine players that have represented the club such as Gerrard, Michael Owen, Torres and Xavi Alonso and always some kind of hope that a genuine title challenge could be mustered. Those hopes are distant ones now with the size of the problems at Liverpool becoming worryingly apparent.

That is not to say that things cannot be rectified, in Brendan Rodgers they have a manager - that this blog believes certainly - that can chart a long term overhaul of the club. It is however a long term project and it is in danger of being derailed early in the process.

The cusp of the current issue surrounds deadline day which in itself begs several questions about the running of a club. Deadline day is something that should be avoided, not something for clubs to swarm around. The sound business is done early in the transfer window with the deadline day required only for tweaks or adjustments such as Real Madrid taking the option of Michael Essien as a squad player.

Liverpool it seems were awfully disorganised last Friday and allowed Andy Carroll to go out on loan without securing a replacement. The word being that Clint Dempsey was Rodgers' preferred replacement only to be told that FSG would not stump up the cash.

FSG are on a steep learning curve. They allowed Dalglish and Comoli to go bananas last Summer on a vast array of mediocre fare such as Henderson, Adam and Downing which when all added up was a pretty penny.

Liverpool's finances prior to this were not in particularly great shape in any event due to the handicap of Anfield's relatively paltry gate receipts and the sizeable spending under Rafa Benitez again often on questionable signings (Reina, Alonso and Torres excluded).

It is therefore no surprise that FSG wish to use a more concerted strategy and approach, concentrating on younger players with potential and resale value. Clint Dempsey at 29 years old offered none of that, he did however offer an immediate boost to the team in terms of his proven goal threat.

So here is the rub. Brendan Rodgers insisted on being in charge of footballing matters prior to joining. The idea of a director of football was kicked in to touch. If that were to be completely true ala Sir Alex Ferguson, then FSG's job is to advise Rodgers how much money is there and it his decision on whom to spend it.

What appears to have happened here is that FSG would not sanction the move due to Dempsey's age in an entirely opposite approach to the Glazers who sanctioned the huge outlay for the 29 year old Robin Van Persie. So is Brendan Rodgers in charge of footballing matters after all? It seems not.

American owners hail from a land of franchises and salary caps where budgets are generally met. In instances such as the LA Dodgers, tales of financial mismanagement are met with widespread derision. Financial prudence should be expected and to a large degree welcomed, just ask Leeds United or Rangers fans.

Where the line appears to have been crossed is that when a budget is available and FSG feels that their valuation of a player is more accurate than their managers'.

The view of this blog is that in both Van Persie's and Dempsey's case, the clubs paid over the odds for both players who will have little resale value and are already at their peaks. ManYoo will argue that should Van Persie fire them to the title and the latter stages of the CL that he was cheap and they would have a point.

The problem also with such a simplified view is that it does not allow the manager - looking at the wider picture - to mould the squad as he sees fit. If Dempsey were to repeat his goalscoring heroics of last season and move Liverpool up the table then they too could argue he was worth the money given the riches on offer closer to the summit

This current spat is probably no more than that but it is possibly showing that football is beginning to change with owners starting to flex their 'no' muscles a little more. Several managers have felt irked over the Summer at the perceived 'lack of support' from their boards but the reality is that clubs are simply maxed out.

Liverpool are for example paying Joe Cole 100,000 pounds a week, with 40,000 crowds and little corporate money and no Champions League revenues (or hope of them in the short term), that is simply too much.

Brendan Rodgers did not create the problems at Anfield, nor did he spend the money of the previous regimes. It does appear however that for the time being, he is going to have to pick up the tab, life at Swansea was never this complicated - No Nonsense.