Saturday 1 October 2016

Ronnie Whelan: Liverpool and Manchester United getting a very poor return for their £600m

Read Ronnie Whelan exclusively in The Herald every Monday

Published 18/01/2016 | 19:17

Liverpool fans display a banner before the start of the match with Manchester United
Liverpool fans display a banner before the start of the match with Manchester United

There is something fundamentally wrong with the Premier League if two big clubs with a combined budget of well over a half billion can deliver such a poor standard of football that you reach for your keys and think about a warm fire.

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Forget for a moment that Liverpool are now travelling up a steep hill to get to Champions League football after losing a game they should have won.

Forget also the fact that Louis van Gaal has turned Manchester United into a team without any apparent purpose.

Just think about that number. Nearly £600m spent on transfers between the two clubs in the recent past and I can't honestly say I can see a star among the lot of them, with the obvious exception of David de Gea.

Manchester United owe an enormous debt of gratitude to De Gea. Without him, they really would be a very bad way indeed. In every game he saves certain goals.

But the overriding thought I had about the game was not about the consequences for Klopp and the rest of the season or for van Gaal and his brief respite from hard questions. It was a simple one. Where are all the stars after spending so much money on talent?

Where are the lads you talk about in the pub and look forward to watching in huge games like Liverpool against Manchester United.

I don't see a star name that kids are talking about in the street. I don't see a player they want to become. Even the most talented kids need heroes to worship.

Lucas? Henderson? Lalana Honest sure but stars?

They tried their very best against Manchester United and there were small spells when they pinged the ball with pace and precision but it was still pretty ordinary stuff. In fact the overwhelming feeling after the game could be summed up in that one word. Ordinary.

When you are Liverpool or Manchester United, ordinary is just not acceptable and when you factor in the almost obscene amount of money spent, there has to be someone who takes the blame or better than that, someone who fixes it.

Recruitment is the key to success. You cant win anything without enough good footballers and £600m should get you plenty of them.

Someone has to take responsibility for the fact that neither Anfield or Old Trafford is home to many right now.

The flow from the academy structures has stopped too for some reason and clubs which previously prided themselves on home grown talent now seem to see the global market as the place to be.

All the football is being played by small clubs with good scouting systems and access to truly massive money if they can stay in the Premier League for any kind of extended spell.

The big spenders in this window are Bournemouth. Think about that.

They've just shelled out £10m on Benik Afobe. That's Bournemouth remember.

Judging by the way they do their business, there's a good chance he'll be a success. It would be great if we could say the same about Liverpool.

I've lost track of the number of seasons which have ended with me praying that the summer would bring ready made stars to Anfield. Great players ready to thrill and delight, not kids with potential.

The team is crying out for them and I truly hope that Klopp finds some. Soon.

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