Thursday 19 October 2017

John Giles: I bet the transfer committee, in one form or other, is still heavily involved with Liverpool

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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp
John Giles

John Giles

WHILE watching Jurgen Klopp struggle through the last six weeks, my mind wandered back to Brendan Rodgers and the Anfield transfer committee. They haven’t gone away you know.

I’ve been thinking about three transfer windows so far for Klopp and wondering how strong his grip on the levers that control player acquisition really is.

To give this some context, Klopp had six months free pass to look hard at every player at Anfield, from the youngest trainee to the most senior pro and make a call.

In purely football terms, he needed players who were very fit and completely wedded to his vision of how the game should be played.

But let’s deal simply with the physical side of it. To successfully deploy Klopp’s front foot “go go go” philosophy, he needed a big squad.

It is not difficult for fit lads to operate at that level but it is demanding and has a high attrition rate over the long haul unless you are remarkably lucky.

Klopp claimed he was happy with the talent pool he had a year ago but I was keen to see if he would move to plug some of the obvious gaps visible across his squad.

During the summer, he did very little business and kicked off the season with just a handful of major signings – Sadio Mane, Loris Karius and Joel Matip.

Mane is a class act, no doubt about that, Karius has been benched and Matip is a decent enough defender. At their best, up to that New Year’s Day win over Manchester City, Liverpool were breathtaking but the more I see them struggle, the bigger the rebuilding job becomes.

That’s why I thought he would have set something up for the window just closed and was quite surprised when he didn’t buy anyone.

In fact, he had a net loss in January because of Mane’s involvement in the African Nations Cup, Matip’s unavailability and Philippe Coutinho’s injury issues.

With those three out, Liverpool simply collapsed which reinforced my thinking about Klopp’s transfer business and why there is so little of it.

This is, of course speculation, but I always look for signs and I see some indicators in Klopp’s recent comments that the control I thought he had might not be what it seems.

During the summer, Klopp talked about how player recruitment at Anfield is “a democracy” but that he makes the final call.

Earlier in the week he seemed to suggest that he had tried to sign people in January but that the attempts came up short.

What I know as a matter of certainty is that people like those who sat on Liverpool’s transfer committee don’t just disappear.

I would bet that the committee, in one form or other, is still heavily involved.

Liverpool’s transfer committee have presided over the emasculation of the squad over a number of years.

Luis Suarez left and was never replaced. To add insult to injury, a chunk of the cash they got was wasted on Mario Balotelli among other duds.

Other big players like Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher went and were not replaced.

Remember, these are the people who told Brendan Rodgers that the players he wanted were not available while they chased down their own list and ended up lumbering him with Balotelli.

Rodgers looked like a fool when he had to do an about face and welcome Balotelli after publicly stating he didn’t want to sign him.

It took Liverpool two years and who knows how much money to wriggle out from under the yoke the transfer committee attached to Rodgers when they signed Balotelli.

A consequence of that was that when Klopp arrived, he had two fit strikers, Christian Benteke who he didn’t want and is now at the bottom of the table with Sam Allardyce and the unproven Divock Origi.

Klopp knew from very early on that he could not rely on Daniel Sturridge but a year and three transfer windows later, he is still scratching around for a goalscorer.

I just wonder why he has not addressed this glaring gap and other problems he has, like left-full back and centre-back or in midfield where he is painfully short of quality and options.

Perhaps his own scouting network which brought him so much success in Germany needed to be reorganised and he will make the moves he needs to make in the summer.

I’m sure that plugging his own scouts into the Anfield network was a priority for him and I’m sure he has been looking hard at the Bundesliga for players who might not cost a huge amount but would, at the very least, bulk up his options and the quality he has available.

He admitted himself that the depth he believed was at Anfield had to be reassessed in the light of the FA Cup exit to Wolves.

It seems to me that he has to make some sweeping changes this summer and I hope, for his sake, that “democracy” does not win the day.

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