FSG: Shape Up or Ship Out

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It’s happened again… it’s happened agai-ai-ain… Tottenham Hotspur, it’s happened again!

So goes the now famous Arsenal song that was aimed at Spurs fans every season for two decades, when the day arrived each year, and it was confirmed that, yet again, their North London rivals wouldn’t finish above them in the Premier League – what became known as St. Totteringham’s Day. Clearly, that song was rendered irrelevant the season just gone when Spurs finished some eleven points ahead of their Islington adversaries but there’s a damn good argument for rival fans of Liverpool to resurrect a variation of that chant and aim it at the Anfield club.

See, we’ve messed up a transfer yet again! Embarrassing. Shambolic. Amateurish. Just a few of the more milder descriptions for the events of this week that saw Liverpool fans in a state of euphoria when the mainstream press announced that Virgil Van Dijk had chosen the Redmen ahead of rival clubs as his next destination at 5pm on Monday, only for a Fenway Sports Group-directed apology to be posted on the club website 49.5 hours later aimed at Southampton that also confirmed the club had ended its interest in Jurgen Klopp’s primary target. Unfortunately it has been an all too familiar tale throughout FSG’s near seven year reign as the club’s owners.

In their very first transfer window, with no experience, scant footballing knowledge, FSG authorised the knee-jerk signing of Andy Carroll for £35m (following the contentious £50m sale of Fernando Torres to bitter rivals Chelsea) – a largely unproven and limited striker who at best was worth £15m in the 2011 transfer market. Rival fans got much mileage out of mocking us for what was clearly an absurd transfer.

Who can forget the summer transfer window of 2012. The club had put a kibosh on the King’s reign, with Kenny Dalglish sacked for delivering an eighth placed finish despite a League Cup triumph. Brendan Rodgers came in on the strength of his 180-page dossier, and following underwhelming signings in Fabio Borini, Joe Allen and Oussama Assaidi, fans hoped he and the club would surprise us with marquee signings in late-August to get everyone excited (especially given the departure of Andy Carroll which left Luis Suarez as the club’s only established centre forward). Instead, transfer deadline day turned into a nightmare.

We all sat there in front of Sky Sports News hoping for news of something. We tuned in the evening of 31 August 2012 to LFC TV, which featured a live studio special with Claire Rourke and Roy Evans to talk about transfers. As the hours and minutes ticked by and we closed in on the 11pm deadline, all the hopes and expectations were replaced with fume and anger. There was nothing. Rourke and Evans sat there, awkwardly looking at one another with little idea about what to say or do. It was embarrassing, so much so that John W. Henry issued a statement to fans three days later to apologise for the lack of activity.

During the following season, we were in a title race and needed adequate back-up to the red-hot Suarez and Sturridge (their sole back-up was Iago Aspas, who’s stint on Merseyside was an unmitigated disaster, though that’s not all down to the player). In the January 2014 transfer window we firstly sought Mohamed Salah (who was keen to join us), an exciting prospect at Basel. Needless to say, we missed out on him due to wasting time haggling over £3m and Chelsea simply swooped in and bought him for what transpired to be little reason other than to avoid the player joining us.

We then turned our attentions to Yehven Konoplyanka. Ian Ayre even flew out to Ukraine to negotiate directly with Dnipro. Once again, fans got their hopes up. Many had even gotten so far as perfecting how to pronounce his name. It was all in vain. Once again, on transfer deadline day we couldn’t get the deal over the line. Once again, Liverpool were a laughing stock.

Did we learn from all these transfer debacles and become a more slicker operator in player recruitment? Fuck no. Fast forward a few months into the summer transfer window of 2014. The inevitable departure of Luis Suarez came on 11 July. It was clearly expected after – for the third time in his career – Suarez sunk his teeth into an opponent, and at the World Cup no less with Giorgio Chiellini his latest victim.

Despite his imminent departure, we were clearly going to receive a sizeable transfer fee for him and with other player sales plus the return of Champions League football, we were going to go into the market and recruit the finest talent from around Europe, right? Course not.

We tried for Alexis Sanchez but he spurned us for the brighter lights of London and joined Arsenal instead. It was fine. We’d surely have a suitable list of alternatives if Sanchez didn’t materialise. Don’t be silly. We had no clue who to go for. When a journalist asked Brendan Rodgers during a US tour if we’d consider Mario Balotelli, his answer on 3 August was “I can categorically tell you that he will not be at Liverpool next season”. Balotelli was wearing the Liverpool shirt after signing for the club just three weeks later.

In October 2015, Jurgen Klopp arrived at Anfield to much fanfare after Rodgers was relieved of his duties. The former Dortmund manager inherited a squad that had finished sixth the previous season and abjectly failed to build upon the success of the 2013/14 season. There were areas of the squad – defence and attack especially – that were clearly in need of bolstering. Klopp’s first transfer window came in January 2016.

We made a play for Shakhtar Donetsk’s wing wizard Alex Teixeira. In the end, inevitably, we couldn’t get the deal done and he went to China instead. After joining Jiansu Suning, in explaining why he didn’t join the Reds, he explained, “all the proposals that came from (Liverpool) were somewhat windy and did not contain anything concrete.” Sound familiar?

Then let’s skip to Klopp’s first full summer transfer window. At the end of the 2015/16 season, there was a general consensus that Liverpool desperately needed to improve its defence. Fans knew heralded Schalke centre-back Joel Matip was on his way but many fans hoped to see two or three further additions to the back-line, especially after irreconcilable differences set in between the manager and Mamadou Sakho and four other defenders were ushered out of the club. Did we go and splash a bunch of cash on defensive reinforcements? Not quite. We brought in a barely known Ragnar Klavan from Augsberg for £4million, and for much of last season, he played like a £4million defender. Oh, and we made a tidy profit on transfer activities last summer too. Wonderful.

That brings us to this summer (we spent no money in the last January transfer window, yet again). For much of the spring months, multiple sources told us Virgil Van Dijk, Naby Keita, Julian Brandt and Ryan Sessegnon were the primary targets for summer activity along with potentially a new striker if Daniel Sturridge were to go. Figures of between £150m and £200m were touted. The manager would be backed by the owners after all but securing Champions League football for next season (winning a two-legged qualifier permitting), we were told. We’re only in early June and it looks like none of the four primary targets will materialise, and in the case of Klopp’s number one target, Virgil van Dijk, we’ve hit a new low in the way that deal has come apart at the seams.

Various parties are being blamed for this latest of many debacles, from Sporting Director Michael Edwards to Klopp to the player’s agent and even Twitter ITKs. Ultimately, the buck stops with the owners.

Throughout their reign, Liverpool’s recruitment and transfer strategy has been driven by FSG. Our approach to negotiations, valuations, discussions over remuneration packages and all related issues comes from them. And during their time in charge, transfer dealings have been a complete and utter failure. Sure, during their time we have secured some fine players like Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mane, but for all the transfer successes we’ve made countless poor signings and missed out on many high-quality players because of an incoherent, unrealistic and ineffective recruitment strategy.

What’s more, it was their decision to appoint Michael Edwards to the very important position of Sporting Director last November. I’m sure Edwards is a fine data analyst but being able to use performance data to identify strengths and weaknesses of players at the club, as well as to use it to identify targets for recruitment, is one thing. Being able to sit on the other side of a table from a Jorges Mendes, Mino Raiola or Volker Struth is another. Edwards has all the gravitas of Auntie Edna’s slightly-cracked porcelain vase on her mantelpiece. He is simply not at the level needed for such a position at what is supposed to be a European powerhouse.

Indeed, Liverpool is one of the world’s most popular teams and amongst the top ten richest football clubs across the globe. No other team around Europe of its standing has enjoyed as little success as the Anfield outfit- one trophy and two top-four finishes is frankly pathetic. This is largely down to consistently poor recruitment and the responsibility for this lays squarely with FSG.

The whole saga around Virgil Van Dijk is just the latest in a long list of embarrassments for Liverpool fans. Quite frankly, we’ve all had enough of it.

There is still a long time left in this transfer window for FSG and their management team to redeem themselves and deliver the quality of players their world class manager needs to bring silverware and success that the club’s legions of fans have been starved of for far too long.

However, if FSG don’t fix this mess and they oversee yet another summer transfer window in which they under-deliver, then quite frankly, they need to put themselves on the transfer list and look to move on.

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  1. Couldn’t agree more.. and you failed to mention Zielinski, Gotze, Draxler and Dahoud who the club also failed to get for Klopp.. the only thing I dont agree is it is not time to shape up or ship out. that boat has sailed now, its time to ship the f##k out. every year we have articles with similar headlines, when is enough enough. “Last chance for FSG to deliver etc” its the same every window and never happens, they are nearly a decade in for f##k sake.. after missing out on all Klopps targets already and embarrassing the club on a new level with the grovelling apology to Southampton and even to their fans! having us embroiled in a tapping up case for the 3rd time in 5 years, it is simply not good enough for an owner of Liverpool. when everything you mentioned is took into account and the abject failure in ALL things football related the only thing for them to do is to f##k off. they can’t redeem themselves from here. There is a negativity around the club again now as there ALWAYS is under their reign.. Fans are divided and angry.. its more then this window its their whole ridiculous tenure. enough is enough. FSG OUT

  2. Thats well said about these owners klopp wont stay long at liverpool if transfers dont get done for top players.we could of had a top elite side now with all the players we should of signed,but o no eveything has to be done stupidly and unprofessional.other top clubs just get it done and if they want top players they get them with no problem.

  3. My back teeth are telling me we are in a bit of a fog already,im sick to my red core of quite frankly amateurish,blindly poking around in the transfer target,i can see a plush,leather(real)smelling office,a top of the range computer,a busty secretary(couldnt help it),and on the expensive office table are the tools of our recruitment plan,a blind fold,a dart,dartboard,notepad with clean pages etc..a bit of jest there,but im not laughing anymore,like all reds,local and far flung,we have that same feeling in our stomachs,that twist that actually does hurt,i feel like we will snatch the scraps of other top clubs who do their business way better than us.Chelsea are reportedly going for a 30 yr old defender from juventus with matich thrown in for £48 million pound,how the FSG are we to compete with that,but lets get bleeding real,fsg would never release the funds to buy VVD,i think getting caught was the cheaper option,it is time to say,put up,shut up or ship out,or stay and produce…

  4. Here we go again playing BLAME game! we are very good at blaming others for our blind folded instinct. Our so call Manager has a lot to be answer for when the Owners gave him money what has he done with it? more over what has Sahko done to him that he is hell bent to go and wasted Millions on another Defender who also INJURED at his own club. All other Clubs are now buying all the good Players and what is our manager waiting for? Xmas.

  5. Very well assessed in the way transfer is handled at LFC. I could not agree better to the way FSG maul with transfers. Is this an intended approach by FSG or is it the way ppl like Edwards are there to manage rather than lead. What about new appointment of Peter Moore? What is his role and parameter at the club? Indicators like transfer of Salah has dragged similarly to the previous encounter before one phone call from Mourinho changed the player’s mind.
    Having read unconfirmed report that Kloop cut off his holiday to head to Liverpool will reflect that issues will escalate next week.
    Expecting a lot of surprises.!

  6. Thanks for the article… a nice red.

    Look, here’s the thing… we were all just too happy that we got those two useless duo out when FSG came knocking… however, we were coming off a low base, so any new owners would have looked awesome to us. The reality is… FSG are a business! They are NOT LFC lovers, they’re MONEY lovers. It’s profits first and pride second for these greedy Bstds!

    We LOVE this club… With every inch and ounce of our beings and blood… FSG LOVE the money the club makes for them… it’s purely perspective. The sooner fans realize this, the sooner we will come to peace with the fact that we are being raped for MONEY. They did NOT buy the club because they were lifelong fans… NO… they bought it because they looked at the profitability of the “organization”. The Sheikh who bought Man City is a fan… not just a MONEY LOVER. Roman is a Chelsea fan… not just a MONEY LOVER. These gents bleed when their club loses… our owners check the opportunity costs of our losses and how much MONEY they may have lost when we lose… it is perspective.

    If any fans out there thinks that John Henry was a LFC fan before and loves the club unconditionally as we do… they’re deluded or stupid. This man loves the MONEY the club makes him, NOT the club! It’s perspective. Unless the “purchase of an asset” I.e. “Player” has the probability of making MONEY for the club, they won’t buy them. FSG have perfected the art of “buy low – sell high”… that’s how every business is run. And we – I’m afraid – are just another business to them.

    So… don’t look for passionate commitment on player purchases… look out for the shrewd “if we buy him low and Klopp makes him half decent, we can sell him for a profit”. That’s how they view player purchases… NOT… “let’s get the best we can for 200mil and aim to 1. Win a cup, 2. Move up two places in the league, 3. make the fans happy”… NO… the fans come last in the land of FSG… in fact, the fans could be considered to be that “difficult customer” who is a liability to our business…

    So… to all the fans backing FSG, take off your rose tinted glasses – we are being sucked dry for MONEY. I suspect that if Wikileaks released FSG communication, it wouldn’t surprise me to see disgusting emails about Money and PROFITS as the main focus of our club! In fact, not so long ago, a copy of an email was being circulated on the communication from Henry around purchasing the club and turning profits.

  7. I can’t understand while people are now criticises LFC owners. The Manager himself said that there were MONEY available to BUY whom he want to buy never mind the newly completed STAND, yes agreed that FSG are Business corporate don’t we all want the same in all our dealings? Mr Klopp should roll his sleeve up and buy Quality Defenders and others that would be useful for LFC to succeed in this dispensation. We should support the owners and not throwing stones at them.

  8. Nice read, but I’ll go one further than you. I say that FSG haven’t intentionally made a single shrewd or difficult negotiation and signing for LFC.
    Sturridge was literally kicking to leave Chelsea, it was only too easy to buy him.
    They lucked out greatly on Coutinho and all credit to the level he is in now goes to him. From a transfer point of view, he was struggling in Milan with the physicality of the defending and it’s incredible that he’s added that strength to his game now. It was simply a lucky hit for FSG. As for Manè, he himself has said that it was the opportunity to work with Klopp that got him here and it’s not like they paid 100 mil for him. So in short, they haven’t done badly in transfers, they’ve done ABYSMALLY at transfers and it’s down solely to Klopp for dragging us into the champions League.
    Ola Thompson, you say you don’t understand why fans are pissed at FSG. I’ll tell you why!
    For one, FSG have claimed that the money is out there and available but they’re haggling for 5 mil or so to sign Salah. Does that sound like something a manager with 200 mil will do?
    Second you say that they built the stand and that is a symbol of undying dedication, but see it for what it is- a ploy to get more money. Bigger stadiums means more cash, that’s all, so don’t paint it all rosy and generous. It’s clear that they’re either duplicitous or incapable af, and for that, I say with complete conviction, FSG OUT!

  9. It’s far worse, not only was an e-mail published and on record at court, stipulating that FSG were only in it for the steal of the century, but when it comes to the stadium they stink to high heaven of cheap and greed. Firstly they tried to claim that the refurbished Anfield would increase our gate revenue and in turn make us more competitive in the transfer market was at the very least wrong, if not absolute lies. They knew as well as we did that while they F’ing about trying to decide what to do that West Ham were moving to the Olympic Stadium, with a bigger capacity than Anfield even if complete, also that our main rivals like Spurs and Chelsea were both moving to new stadiums bigger than a complete Anfield would be, so being competitive wasn’t really going to be the case as we would have to be increasing our gate revenue in comparison. Then lets look at prices, even after the walkout most fans were being too dumb to realise that general release tickets were still going to increase in price. Now look at cost of the stand paid for initially by FSG, it will be paid back in full by the club, in fact with interest even though FSG said that it was an interest free loan, not only that, but advertsing revenue on that stand may well have increased, it also goes toward the value of Anfield itself and therefor the club, so not only will they get their money back in terms of the cost of the expansion but they will see another return when they decide to sell. They chose to redevelop Anfield primarily for 2 reasons the 1st being, ITS CHEAPER and the 2nd, if they ever sold he club or stadium, it makes the land itself worth more than it would of being if we moved before development. It’s all bull about redeveloping Kirkby too, what they are doing there is classic consolidating, or merging of departments, cutting costs, and selling off assets i.e. Melwood, F FSG
    #FSG_OUT and take everyone of your boys with you #Edwards with you

  10. Have you some miracle Billions to finance anything? every thing in this world we are living has to financially viable otherwise it would end up in the BIN. I would like to know from you why is it when it comes to LFC buying any player the PRICE would double up.


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