Are Liverpool really as good as the media ceaselessly tells us?

By Tony Attwood

“Liverpool have been run supremely well recently. That they have – just about – kept pace with Manchester City despite spending a net £220m less over the past five seasons is remarkable.”

Thus says the Guardian and it is typical of current media thinking.  Manchester City are brilliant of course and have won lots of pots, but they had all the money.  Plucky little Liverpool have done it on a shoestring.

Except, is that true?  There being nothing else to do this Sunday afternoon I decided to have a look.

The amount of the net spend per club comes from Transfer activity of the last 5 years.  Now it is important to note that every website that records transfer details tends to come up with different results, but Transfermarkt who have put together the “Transfer Activity” site seems as reliable as others, if not a bit more so, so that’s the source in this case.

So we have the list of clubs, their net spend over five years, and then how many league titles, FA Cups and European trophies they have won (which is the bit I’ve added, so if any of those bits are wrong, that’s my fault.)

The very last column “Years” tells us roughly how many years the current manager has been in post.

Club Spend League FA Cup European Years
£-479.04m 0.3
£-424.81m  3 1 5
£-334.73m 2 2
£-238.53m 1 1 1 1
£-231.60m 0.5
£-221.24m 0.5
£-217.32m 0.5
£-219.25m 0.01
£-197.20m 1 1 6
£-197.13m 2
£-193.27m 0.8

Now one of the big things to remember is that when clubs change managers a couple of times they will spend money (each manager wants his own players in) and not necessarily win anything for a while.  So a club that has a manager who has been in post the longest has an advantage in that regard.  He’s had the time to buy the players he wants, and get it right.  If he has got it wrong, he would have left by now.

So longevity appears to bring success – but it is an illusion.  You have to be successful as a manager to get longevity.

And just to pause on this point for a moment… as we have seen at Arsenal, there can be a constant demand for managerial change when everything is not perfect.  I’m sure you will remember that even after winning the FA Cup, there was a huge demand for Arteta to be replaced, and a total failure to understand his transformation of the way the club played, cutting the 80+ yellow cards per season down to around 40.

This is the problem with the whole “new manager” approach that the media has created and which many fans buy into.  Mr Wenger did come in and get it right, immediately, but he was an exception.  Most new managers take their time – and they invariably have the media against them.  The football media is packed solid with transfers – as we know, 136 for Arsenal last summer.  They don’t happen, the manager is blamed, and if the club does not rise up the league, there are demands for a sacking.

We saw it with the opening three games this season, and it happens all the time.   But normally the media ignore the fact that they are stoking the flames.  However, the love-in with Liverpool and Klopp has forced a change of attitude.

So in this regard, Liverpool have an enormous advantage – they have a manager and have kept him and the media love him.  Manchester City also have the benefit of huge amounts of money.  They have a manager who has stayed, and he has had as much money as he wants, and although the media find such garish spending by Man C as a bit unEnglish no one complains that it has blown FFP out of the water.

But here’s the thing.  Leaving aside Liverpool, clubs that bring in a high profile manager who buys in his type of player, is expected to get results quickly and to maintain the success.  If he doesn’t the demand is for change remains, and that continues until the money runs out and a perfectly decent club goes bust.  The media shakes its collective head wondering how a football club could have ever been that stupid as to do what they actually demanded.

Perhaps at the moment the club with the most to worry about is Tottenham, who having spent £231m on players still haven’t won anything although apparently, they do have beer glasses that fill from the bottom up, so I suppose that is something.

But even Tottenham is outshone by Manchester United who have spent £479m, won nothing and have fans and the media demanding more and more and more spending, not just on players but on a new stadium too.

Arsenal were in trouble, but an FA Cup, and the transformation of tactics (never mentioned in the media) plus the astonishing turnaround in results since the first three games of the season (ditto) means the media are laying off, although still predicting Arsenal won’t finish fourth.

It’s a funny ol’ game.

2 Replies to “Are Liverpool really as good as the media ceaselessly tells us?”

  1. Klopp is a miracle worker.. he came in October 2015 a team that had finished 6th the season before and languishing in 8th place when he arrived. The squad had also lost suarez and sterling, whilst sturridge’s body had given up. Gerrard had also left. In his first FULL season he achieved top 4. Pep spent £350m in one window before the bt deal and the neymar transfer that sent prices crazy. It’s a huge advantage. The reason why people respect klopp’s achievements are because yes it took time but they spent wisely and couldn’t afford to get it wrong. Just look at arsenal over the same period and now just attaining top 4 would be a huge achievement. Now Liverpool are a team capable of producing 98 and 99 point hauls over a season. It’s an astonishing achievement in this day and age of oligarch billions; especially given the very low net spend since Klopp came in

  2. Does financial fair play still apply ? or has it been scrapped because the likes of Mansour city and Chelsea don’t like it ?
    Interesting how Liverpool get the sympathy ticket despite all those irregularities you’ve mentioned in earlier articles .Could it be the media are morally bankrupt?

Leave a Reply

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