Liverpool lose their identity and money, while Man Utd need to pull out of transfer for Antony

·14-min read
Liverpool midfielder James Milner argues with the referee Credit: PA Images
Liverpool midfielder James Milner argues with the referee Credit: PA Images

The Mailbox claims Liverpool are lacking an identity and seem to have misplaced some money. Plus, Man Utd should walk away from overpriced Anthony, Isak, De Jong and more…

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Who are we?
After a couple of days of listening to podcasts, reading articles and trying to identify rational news, I have come to one conclusion:

Liverpool currently lack an identity.

Klopp has been here for 7 years and has imprinted his philosophy in the team, however this year it seems there is a lack of identity within the team.
Let me spell it out:

1. Fulham: lack of intensity, lacking a number 9, people calling for Nunez to start the next game.
2. Palace: Nunez starts, high intensity and yet can’t break down Palace until he gets sent off, and suddenly it looks like the Liverpool of Old.
3. Man UTD: lack of intensity, calls saying we missed a big Nr. 9 up front today

All 3 games, questions about the midfield personnel.

My point is that when Nunez (so far) was not playing, we seemed to think he would fix everything. When Nunez started (albeit one game) however it seemed we couldn’t score for shit. Milner best player after coming on against Fulham. Questions about Milner starting the next two. Ficle nature of football i guess.

So where are we? This feels like one of those Hangovers where you think a ‘Hair of the dog’ approach will fix everything until it makes things worse and you wish you had never done it. And yet, you will keep trying because you are so frustrated and tired and sick that doing nothing makes absolutely no sense.

In either case, i think Klopp and the team will find their identity again, at some point this year will go on a run and secure top four, maybe even push City again. But for now, i would not be surprised if we scrape some wins, have some stupid draws and lose the odd game. Cannot wait for CL and the 3 games a week schedule where the players and the teams cant think too much and have quicker turnover.
Nik (Carvalho/Elliott will probably be the solution), Munich

 

Where’s the money gone, Liverpool?
Cracking questions in the mailboxes again over the last few days. I was wondering about the state of the finances at Liverpool after watching the All Or Nothing Arsenal documentary.  One thing that struck me from the series was the state of away dressing rooms in the Premier League.  You expect home dressing rooms to be nicer (it is at the Emirates) but some away dressing rooms were a surprise, especially Liverpool’s.  My own football career was strictly non-league (team mates would say very non-league) but even I changed in dressing rooms that were better than the away one at Anfield – it looked like a primary school changing room.

So it looks as if the money isn’t going on the ground and I haven’t heard many comments about the training facilities; of course they might be world class, but you never hear about it.  So just where is the money going?  Could it be Fenway Sports group’s other love, the Boston Red Sox?  Average payroll in the MLB is $115.1 million, the Red Sox payroll?  $164.5 million (£139.05 million in real money).  But the Red Sox are only 7th in the list of MLB payrolls, dwarfed by the New York Mets at $235 million.  So how about in the EPL?  For 2023, Liverpool are sitting third on the list (at time of writing) behind Manchester United & Chelsea.  Their payroll is £153.7 million, the league average is £75.7 million.  So that, I suspect, is where the money has gone Liverpool fans.

Just time for a quick nod to Graham Simons EFL Cup post which was spot on.  The cup glamour is just as strong in the League Cup, despite Man City recently treating it as a private trophy recently.  Liverpool did the same in the early 80s, it just makes the next team who wins it a shared victory for all non Man City fans.  And he’s right, we’re due a relative upset although to be fair to Swansea, they were a Premier League team around that time.  He’s also right about Arsenal’s dreadful League Cup record, although I started supporting the Arsenal around the end of the 1986 season, so in the first seven years saw three league cup finals and two wins versus one FA Cup win and a semi final loss that Spurs still release DVDs about.  Having never been really close to winning a League Cup since makes me love the competetion more, as I’d love to see the team win one again.
Exiled Gooner (if you want a laugh, google Arsenal’s performance in league cup finals)

 

I was curious this morning at a figure I read by football finance analyst on twitter @SwissRamble which demonstrates via published club financial accounts that Liverpool actually made just £7m fewer in profits than Man United over the last 4 years.

This got me thinking…where is that money? We know that Liverpool’s net spend is low because we fund 70% of player transfers with player sales. In fact when examined Liverpool spend (over the last 4 years) just 2% of the club’s profits on transfers.

For reference here’s some other clubs
City – 8%
Chelsea – 12%
Spurs – 17%
Man U – 19%
Arsenal – 26%

Side note – if you’re curious about how arsenal are spending so much despite massive drops in income over 4 years…debt. lots of it. So much so that they may struggle with FFP.

Liverpool – 2%

So our income and profits has increased to the point where we almost have parity with United but apparently cannot spend more than 2% on transfers? Why? Where is that money?

The owners take no dividend (glazers are the only owners which do) and it’s not in the club accounts either. Some of it was used to decrease long term debt against the club but the rest just hasn’t been spent.

My theory is we are about to see a sale of the club. This is why they’re allowing contracts to run down and decrease the wage bill. It’s why money invested in infrastructure is low by comparison to other clubs such as spurs or even United who have almost invested the same as we have in club infrastructure.

They’ve improved the stadium significantly. Built new training facilities and also enhanced the profile of the club thanks to Jürgen by consistently being in the top two teams of England and Europe. But they won’t invest in squad, why?
Because they want to make it an attractive sale to prospective buyers. No new huge salaries on the books, no money spent on new signings which new owners will have to find finance for and a successful world class manager tied onto a decent contract with the club star player done also.

This was always fsg plan from the start. They’re not sports owners, they’re venture capitalists working to improve assets for resale. They’ve never been shy about that, it’s just that in order to do so they also had to make Liverpool attractive and successful, which they have inarguably done. I think we are about to see the sale of Liverpool to a new owner within three years.

Just my opinion
Lee 

 

Man Utd should walk away from overpriced Anthony
Ajax knows United is desperate and have significantly overpriced Anthony. United   would be wise to walk away and use half the money Ajax is demanding to buy Marco Asensio and Cody Gakpo. That would be money well spent as United will have a good striker and an excellent winger. Besides, a glance at the statistics for Anthony and Gakpo reveals that Gakpo has better statistics than Anthony. Over to you United, make the best use of the transfer kitty.
Professor (Dr) David Achanfuo Yeboah

 

Lies, damn lies, etc…
So I had to have a quick look at these by now famous Antony stats from last year. Without having seen him play regularly, I was wondering if he might have been filling the Firmino role for Ten Hag, leading the press and making intelligent runs to open up space for others, having goal involvements that weren’t assists etc. That would be the Occam’s Razor. It seems he is adept at the press at the very least, in the Top 6 for winning the ball back in the final third since arriving in the league.

I did look  closer at the absolute raw stats too, and the chap only played 23 Eredivisie games last year. In this context, the 8 goals and 4 assists isn’t too bad at all. It’s certainly not ‘incredibly poor’ as Kevin hyperbolically suggests. In Liverpool’s all-conquering 19/20 season, Firmino got 9 goals and 8 assists from 38 appearances, playing at or near his presumed peak. Antony is 22 and probably hasn’t peaked yet.
Pablo, MUFC, Dublin

 

De Jong’s demise
With Liverpool apparently bidding for Frenkie de Jong, how will the Man Utd fans try and spin this one?

Will he suddenly become an awful player and Man Utd have done the ultimate bluff? Was Casemiro always their number one target?

I look forward to the backtracking…
Pete B (Just so long as Jack stays at Leeds)

Jurgen Klopp watches Liverpool draw against Palace. Credit: PA Images
Jurgen Klopp watches Liverpool draw against Palace. Credit: PA Images

Klopp’s seventh season
I see in some places across the internet & on F365 there has started to be some attention drawn to the fact that form of Klopp’s sides drop off in their 7th season. I mentioned this in my pre-season predictions on the eve of the new season but I’m not here to tell you I told you so, though… well, I did indeed tell you so.

But the real reason for me writing in is for a comparison Liverpool this year to the Dortmund side of 2014/15 so far. That Dortmund side actually won 2 of their first 3 games and had 6 points from 9, whereas Liverpool haven’t won any of their first 3. It was only at this point where it went wrong at Dortmund, it took them 8 more attempts in the league to pick up their next win & they only won 2 more league games from this point up until February.

It would be no surprise now to see things get worse for Liverpool, with a long stretch of losses a real possibility.
Mick, Cardiff

 

Isak thoughts…
The reaction to Newcastle’s impending signing of Isak for £60m has been very polarised given Newcastle are not (yet) in the big 6, and quite frankly its only really remarkable for the size of the fee, which would be considered substantial even for the big 6. Some folks are pointing out his rate of return from last season as a reason why he’s a dud, others are putting 2+2 together with Wilson’s injury and saying its a panic buy. But 365 write a piece on why he is a great signing, reaction on Sky Sports was that he’s a great talent in the making and comparing his style to Thierry Henry, while Balague wrote a BBC column which was extremely on the fence (hooray for BBC balance!).

My own extremely primitive thoughts cannot help but stray to my experiences of Isak on Football Manager (bear with me I am going somewhere with this). He’s been a darling on FM for a few versions now, but I signed him in the 2020 version and he was as close to a Xmas DVD ‘When Football Goes Wrong’ compilation as i’ve ever seen on FM. Fast forward to 2022’s version and he’s very good indeed and wanted by most of the top clubs.

Why do I go on about this you say? I rather think its prescient to what Newcastle could be getting; another Joelinton who lacks the physical attributes to convert to a midfielder and who was even more expensive. Or a very good player with that potential to push on.

What gives me a bit more faith is that this is not the Newcastle of old, who signed bright young things and turned them to dross. All summer they’ve been prepared to say no to signings when the asking has gone insane. Their pursuit of Pedro from Watford shows they have done their homework on what a player is worth, and if they were panic buying a striker they would have stumped up the 2-3m extra for him that Watford wanted, but they said no, and paid more than double that money for Isak, who they have been watching a long time. Like Liverpool have been doing the players signed also seem to fit the personality profile Howe wants. Bruno is a great example of this.

Of course this could be a huge misstep yet i’m actually very excited that for the first time since even before that fat turd bought the club, that Newcastle may have people who know what they are doing. Lets not forget pre-Ashley Newcastle had an appalling record when it came to signings, probably even worse than under the Ashley regime where some gems were signed for low fees and sold on at high value (but then never reinvested). Its shaping up to be a very interesting season!
James, Leeds

 

UCL Draw
My thoughts, for whatever they’re worth (PM me for Paypal details):

Group A: Intriguing, especially at the moment. If Liverpool keep playing the way they have, they will be far from walking this group. And even if they find their balance quickly, any of the other clubs is certainly in with a shout.
Group B: Pretty soft, but could provide advancement for a couple of clubs that don’t always find it. Everybody digs that.
Group C: I make no predictions, but the wealthier citizens of Plzen will have an amazing season, remaining too drunk to mind the results much.
Group D: Fun! The essential question is whether Conte is capable of being Spursy.
Group E: I’d find it hard to bet against Chelsea, except that all Dinamo, Salzburg and three of those clubs are used to winning. Chelsea doesn’t seem to be.
Group F: Group B with a slightly more obvious winner.
Group G: Manchester City seem rather more inevitable than Thanos. It’s hard to se anybody else here going very far.
Group H: PSG, Juventus, and Benfica ought to mean we won’t be bored. But I somehow think we will be.
Chris C, Toon Army DC

 

There’s a very Monaco,  Bayer Leverkusen and  CSKA Moscow feel about Spurs Champions league group. Can anyone remember what happened when those teams were in a group with Tottenham??

This is Spurs, no nonsense about “easy” groups please.
Aidan Boyce- Wexford

 

Ronaldo…
Why is there constant media outrage when Ronaldo is “dropped” (not selected)?He wants to leave, he’s made his bed, he’s not interested in the team. What manager would pick him if there was a choice?
Tim McKane

 

Non readers in comments
Some people can’t read.

I didn’t say Trent was the same level of ability as pirlo. I said they had the same skillset. I’ll explain.

What was pirlo good at? Long range passing from a deep position in midfield.

What is Trent good at? Long range passing from deep in defence.

Also the people saying his passing stats dont back it up should check the most important stats for a creative midfielder ; goal chances created, key passes and assists. All of which Trent regularly gets into the top 5 for…from right back.

His pass completion rate will obviously be lower, he attempts more long range forward passes than most. And to say he’s only 3% worse than pirlo in his prime at the age of 23 only seems to support what I said, not refute it.

But just for the cheap seats I’ll say it again. They have similar SKILL SETS. Different ability levels but similar skill sets. Him in midfield to essentially do what xabi used to while fabinho protects him the same way mascherano did is surely worth an experiment?
Lee

 

Not so bright idea…
Has there been a bigger miss this season than the gossip column this morning not going for “Kudus to Everton” as a headline? That was a sitter.
Figs, LFC, Wexford

 

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