Tony Evans: The Saudis Did Klopp & Liverpool a “Huge Favour”

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Well, 2023 has been a strange one. To turn around Sven-Goran Eriksson’s cliche: first half not so good, second half good.

At times last season it looked as if the Jurgen Klopp era was coming towards an end. Anfield was an unhappy place. It never quite reached the stage where the internal grumbling became a public issue but there were questions being asked in the dressing room.

As the summer loomed, another cliche was on many lips: “This is the most important transfer window of Klopp’s reign/all time.” There was some truth in that. And then the Saudis did Liverpool the greatest favour possible.

Back in May, it was hard to imagine that Jordan Henderson and Fabinho would leave. But, in retrospect, starting the new campaign in August with the veteran duo anchoring the midfield would have been a nightmarish prospect. Had that happened, the autumn might have been very different and Liverpool may have been scuffling around mid table with Chelsea instead of making an unexpected run at the Premier League title.

Sometimes you need a little luck and it’s not recognisable when it arrives. It felt like too much leadership and experience was heading out of the door in the summer and creating a midfield from almost scratch was a daunting proposition. Things could hardly have turned out better.

If we do go on to win the league, there will probably be a retrofitted version of the summer that will suggest the transfer window was underpinned by a masterplan. The truth is it was a masterpiece of adaptability after we were given a shove by our Saudi mates.

So, as the new year dawns, let’s reward those beheading, gay-hating, human-rights abusing, big-spending bastards by spanking Newcastle United, Riyadh’s English sportswashing project.

Thanks and up yours, Saudi Arabia. And stay away from Salah.

Another stroke of luck was when Moses Caicedo chose Chelsea over Merseyside. Things got even better when Romeo Lavia decided to join him.

In future years, 2023 will be regarded by football historians as the summer the Premier League went mad and paid more than £100 million for defensive midfielders.

Declan Rice is doing well for Arsenal and had a good game at Anfield but his pricetag was excessive. Caicedo had less pedigree and his potential was much more questionable. Let’s face it, Chelsea have been spending like Saudis. That’s not clever.

The defensive midfielder role should be one of the cheapest and easiest positions to fill. You need a player who’s mobile, intelligent and disciplined. They don’t need to have blinding speed, a sublime touch or an impressive passing range. It’s a role for artisans rather than artists. Paying big money for the skillset required is, well, daft.

And remember the crysarsing when Caicedo went to Stamford Bridge? Sometimes you don’t know luck even when it bites you on the jaxy.

Photo by IMAGO

Which brings us to Wataru Endo. He’s done alright, hasn’t he?

The discourse around the Japanese has gone from “he’s not good enough!” to “why does he have to go to the bloody Asian Cup?”

Endo is limited. He’s never going to be the creative hub of the team. What he has proved in the past month is that he can do a job.

It’s not a surprise that he took a while to come to terms with life at Liverpool. The pace and physicality of the Premier League often comes as a shock to players from foreign leagues. There’s another aspect, too.

Even British players take a while to adapt to Klopp’s approach. Andy Robertson struggled to get into the team until December of his first season. Alberto Moreno was getting into the side ahead of the Scot.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain put it into perspective. For his first few months at Anfield, he thought he’d made a mistake. Klopp’s methods felt too demanding. And then, suddenly, he realised something: he felt like an athlete for the first time. At that point he began playing the best football of his career.

It would be interesting to ask Endo how he rates his performances compared to his time in the Bundesliga. At 30, he’s thriving and does not look out of place in the team. He’s disciplined and intelligent. No, he’s not quite as mobile as you’d like, but he’s been effective.

Endo is seizing his chance in the big time with gusto. Let’s hope he continues to thrive.

Officials ARE conspiring against Liverpool. They’re conspiring against everyone.

Their job is to enforce a structure on the game so teams don’t get away with breaking the rules. Football fans do not believe the rules should apply to their team.

Just go online. The same bullshit comes from most fanbases. They are all paranoid and think decisions go against them.

Let’s take the two disallowed goals against Burnley. If an opposition attacker had challenged a Liverpool defender in the way Darwin Nunez tussled with Charlie Taylor, our lot would scream blue murder and demand a foul.

If a rival attacker was offside where Mo Salah stood in front of James Trafford – despite being pushed into that position – there’d be a hissy fit if a goal against us was allowed.

You don’t want consistency; you want rulings to always go in our favour. Football is full of subjective decisions and, looking at them rationally, you can see most could go both ways. I can’t be arsed doing the research, but I’d be surprised if as many didn’t go for us as against us.

The constant moaning about referees is boring and corrosive. It’s brought us VAR. How’s that worked out? I can’t help feeling that some enjoy the paranoia and moaning as much as the victories.

I hope 2024 gives you everything you hope for. Unless, of course, you want a Tory win in the next election.

Can you imagine how good May would be with the title coming back to Anfield and the Conservative Party wiped out? Maybe with a Europa League knees up in Dublin thrown in?

That party would be a cracker. Happy new year.

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  1. Pretty decent article till you brought up politics. Write about sports and then shut up. Nobody cares about your political opinions in this kind of space. Politics ruins sport. Stop it.

    • “Write about sports and then shut up.”

      Ugh. What an utter moron. Crawl back into your skip, pal.


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