By Tony Attwood
Speaking with their regular authority on such matters on September 15 the Daily Express announced the “Liverpool owners will not sack Brendan Rodgers”. And no they didn’t do it then – they did it on 4 October, and immediately the Daily Star said, “Replacing Brendan Rodgers with Jurgen Klopp will not solve all of Liverpool’s problems.”
Their reasons were interesting:
“Competing as Dortmund boss against just one financial powerhouse in Germany was one thing. But in England, Klopp will have to go toe-to-toe with four big-money heavyweights in Manchester United, City, Arsenal and Chelsea as well as fellow contenders Tottenham.
“As former Liverpool star Jamie Carragher pointed out on Sky as they discussed Rodgers’ departure, the big clubs are not worried about the Reds. They know if they compete for a player’s signature then more often than not the top four can easily blow Liverpool out of the water.”
And they had a real point.
Allowing a manager to run riot spending something like £76m on players and then getting rid of the manager isn’t really a clever move. Better to not let him in sight of your club credit card in the first place.
This can be seen by the league tables…
When a Mr Brendon Rodgers was sacked by Liverpool! on 4 October the table looked like this…
|6||West Ham United||8||4||2||2||17||11||+6||14|
Liverpool! were 10th with…
- 1.5 points per game
- Goal difference minus 2
- 1.25 goals scored a game
Today the situation is very similar
|8||West Ham United||16||6||6||4||25||21||+4||24|
Liverpool! are ninth with…
- 1.41 points per game (down 0.09 points per game)
- Goal difference minus 2 (exactly as before)
- 1.29 goals per game (point 0.04 goals per game better).
So no real change.
Of course Klopp could turn out to be a better manager than Rodgers over time – only time will tell – but there is no getting over the fact that changing in the summer would have saved a lot of money.
What one should also notice is that clubs have to spend a huge amount of money in sacking a manager. They are in breach of contract, and contracts are legal affairs. So the manager who is sacked is able to claim not just money to shut him up, but also money that he is legally due. The amount might be written into the contract, or it might be according to an employment tribunal. But payment there will be.
There’s also another point here.
Arsenal’s financials read like this
- Turnover in the last accounts was shown as £304m (up from £283m in 2013).
- Profit before tax £5m (down from £7m)
- Net debt £33m
- Turnover in the same period was £256m (up from £206m in 2013)
- Profit before tax £1m (following £50m loss in 2013)
- Net debt £126m
In one sense you might say that the difference (in footballing terms) was not that great, with Arsenal having £48m more turnover, £4m more profit and £93m less debt.
But, Arsenal have built their stadium. Liverpool are still undertaking the long process of rebuilding – and even when it is all done in a year or so, they will still have an awful lot of debt to pay off. (The figures quoted above are for the financial year up to June 2014. Liverpool have spent a lot more on transfers and stadium building since then.)
So, a lack of progress is happening at a time when a lot of the money that might be available being soaked up by the stadium rebuild and other money was used by the last manager, both on transfers and on his settlement.
Over the past five years Liverpool have a net outlay on transfers of over £350m according to Transfer League. Now they know that after a number of years without reaching the top four, they need to develop a new team. But Man City have spent £741m in the last season for which figures are available on new players which is the sort of money you might well expect a club that is trying to upgrade from 6th in the league to fourth to spend.
Arsenal on the other hand have spent £136m, and as I have noted, have the benefit of a completed stadium, which is bigger than Liverpool’s and which has a lot more executive seats which bring in a sizeable part of the revenue.
So Liverpool! are being squeezed all round. The stadium has to be paid for, and even when done it will not take their annual revenue up to the level of Arsenal. What’s more they clearly need to recreate their squad to reach the top four position. They kept spending lots of money, and then they sacked their manager. That’s the wrong way around.
- 20 December 1924: In a rare success in Knighton’s final season Leeds were beaten 6-1. The result left Arsenal 10th, but a terrible second half to the season saw them end up 20th, escaping relegation by one place.
- 20 December 1998: Arsenal 3 Leeds 1 (Vieira, Bergkamp, Petit). From this game to the end of the season Arsenal lost only one game, going the next 19 unbeaten in the league losing finally to Leeds on 11 May.