Back in 2012 I was informed that Liverpool scouts were tracking a young goalkeeper called Marc-Andre Ter Stegen. He would have been around 20-years-old at the time.
As a result of the tip-off I started to try and catch any games that he was involved in. It didn’t take me long to realise why our scouts were recommending him to the then Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers.
I started to become quite excited about the possibility of us signing Ter Stegen. I don’t know why because I’ve become used to us missing out on the best players for what feels like decades.
Rodgers did attempt to bring in Ter Stegen but Liverpool never got close. Once Barcelona started sniffing around him, we cooled our interest. We simply couldn’t compete, and that right there is a statement that Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG) need to be reminded about on a daily basis: We can not compete.
Competing against the likes of Barcelona is something we simply can’t do. We used to be considered a great club but to anyone but ourselves, we’re not. Under FSG I can’t see us ever being great again but we can make a start by showing great intentions.
How many of you reading this have said: “We can’t expect us to challenge Barcelona for players?” Why did you think that? I’ll tell you why. Because your expectations have been managed to the point that you now believe that way. Back in the day Liverpool were expected to win everything and to be the very best. They were considered great like Barcelona. Yes kids, we were once a Barcelona. We feared nobody. We beat everybody.
Sadly, you are right though. We can’t challenge Barcelona any more. Not today, but definitely tomorrow with the right owners. This editorial isn’t about bashing FSG though. To the contrary.
I ranted for years that Brendan Rodgers was a weak appointment and I pleaded for the return of Benitez or the appointment of a Klopp. I said for FSG to show real intent, that they must bin their rookie appointment and appoint Jürgen Klopp and finally they did, although while waiting to do so, they allowed Rodgers to throw Colin Pascoe and Mike Marsh under a bus and spunk even more money.
When Klopp was appointed, FSG were immediately forgiven. Not by me though. Liverpool Football Club should have a top manager in place by default. My expectations haven’t been managed. Bollocks to that. To become excited over the appointment of a manager at Anfield shows how small our mentality has come. But it was finally a step in the right direction.
For some time I had been telling my KopTalk.TV (free) viewers that FSG were preparing to exit. This exit wouldn’t be imminent. It would take time. But the plan was being put in place.
First would come the stadium expansion. Then they would appoint a high-calibre manager. Then, hopefully, Champions League status would return. Not just qualification, but membership as an elite club once again. Qualifying for the Champions League and then crashing out solves nothing. We need to qualify, progress and sustain. These 3 qualities (a lucrative new main stand, Klopp and CL member status) would be added to FSG’s future pre-sale brochure and while waiting to print that, they would continue to rake in the money from the new television deals.
Throughout 2015 FSG allegedly engaged with a Qatari group who are desperate to buy the club. Although not actively looking to sell, FSG listened but if you believe the rumours, division between the main shareholders has seen principle owner John Henry pull rank and dig in. FSG’s Mike Gordon, who basically runs the club, allegedly suggested cashing in to Qatar now, Henry on the otherhand believes sitting tight longer will be of more benefit to them. I get the impression that Gordon was flapping because unlike Henry and Werner, he’s the one in the city facing Liverpool fans on a day-to-day basis and when things are going wrong, he’s the one cleaning the fan when the shit hits it while the others are cheering on the Red Sox over the pond.
I care little for FSG. I know they care little for the club and I know they don’t care about the fans at all. I can live with that. I can also live with them pocketing a huge return. It’s their money, they can rightly do what they want (within reason). But, I’d actually prefer that FSG changed their mindest and actually started to give a shit. By appointing Klopp, that could be their turning point. They won people over because this was the first time under their ownership that they actually did something substantially positive.
But what next?
Appointing Jürgen Klopp alone won’t solve everything. Liverpool targeting young players and then loaning them out again even for just a few months, could be a sign that little is going to change.
Liverpool fans want to see big name players signed, not just big money spent. There is a difference.
Andy Carroll, Christian Benteke, Dejan Lovren, Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana are big-money signings, but they aren’t big names. Firmino and co. can still improve but I think Liverpool desperately need to see some big-name players brought in. Not all of the time, but from time to time.
If we can waste £20m on average players, we should be able to find £20m for the likes of Marc-Andre Ter Stegen. Invest £20m or so in him and he will serve the club for a decade. Barcelona don’t particulary want to sell but money talks and they have other options. Ter Stegen is unsettled and listening. He may not have fancied Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool but I believe he does fancy Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool. I am 100% convinced that Klopp’s people are in his ear but will the German manager be backed? Early rumours suggest there are restricitions in place hence why Klopp is apparently targeting other positions first. I’m not so sure. I don’t think anyone actually knows just exactly what’s in the January or summer transfer kitties. I’m certainly not going to claim that I do.
I want FSG to be successful. I really do. But I’m not convinced that they care that much about anything other than their return. If that’s the case, then fair play. That’s up to them. Personally I’d rather be owned by people who genuinely love and understand football. But for now, there’s no real sign of there having been any progress on that front so FSG will remain for a while longer.
FSG were praised for securing Klopp. I’d love to be the first person to praise them for securing the signing of Marc-Andre Ter Stegen and/or players of that calibre.
It will take more than a fancy new stand to impress me. I care about results and silverware.
Do you agree with me? Drop me a comment below or join me in our Executive Lounge discussion forums on our members’ website.