You might’ve read Robin’s piece on FSG yesterday. You should have.
I read it. I disagreed with a lot of it.
I understand being angry. The transfer window was a poor one. We brought in Virgil van Dijk and the window held so much promise. Then we sold Phil Coutinho. And then did nothing else but loan players out.
That’s not a great window, there’s no denying that. Liverpool have greatly weakened their attacking quality and have thinned their squad to the point where the front three are practically required to stay fit for the remainder of the season, as backup options are not of the required standard.
I’m largely okay with selling Philippe Coutinho. I understand the rationale behind letting him go. Jürgen Klopp is a human manager and he will have been sensitive the the Brazilian’s situation. It’s also entirely possible – and understandable – that the manager had simply lost his patience with the player’s antics; feigning injury in preseason, briefing about an unsavoury relationship with the manager, and then downing tools once again in January.
Blaming FSG for the sale of Coutinho is naive; we have already seen Klopp’s treatment of players who don’t show their full commitment, as Mamadou Sakho was quickly excluded from the squad and then sold. It was also FSG who were so desperate to hold onto their star player in the summer, with the release of the statement saying he wasn’t going anywhere.
Robin’s article pointed to RB Leipzig’s retention of future Red Naby Keïta as a stick to beat the club with. Whilst them retaining the services of their star player is admirable, it is a risk. After securing his future move in the summer, Keïta has had his share of troubles, with several red cards to his name and a troubled January as the Reds looked to bring him in early.
— Toby Forster (@thelegendtoby) January 11, 2018
Riyad Mahrez is another example; he forced for a move and then downed tools when at the end of the window his move hadn’t materialised. Coutinho may well have knuckled down come February, as he did after the summer window, but with the firm belief that he has played his final game for Liverpool in December, who’s to say this would be the case?
On the topic of Riyad Mahrez, Robin says that Manchester City or Chelsea would’ve gotten replacements in. This ignores that Manchester City quite literally missed out on Riyad Mahrez on the final day of the window. Chelsea’s pursuit of the tallest strikers in the league dragged on for the duration of the window, as they went from grock to grock, being rejected until they settled on Olivier Giroud.
A lot of the fume around the window stems from a weird hatred of the owners. It’s weird to have an entrenched view of them, to have a ‘side’. Virgins on Twitter with #FSGOut in their headers, as if John Henry cares. Being ‘FSG In’ is weird too, mind. Praise them for what they do well, criticise them for what they poorly.
One of the comments that Robin’s article attracted called out ‘the (Henry) Echo’, which is quite frankly bizarre. There’s this weird belief that journalists like James Pearce or Melissa Reddy sit around waiting for John Henry to text them their next article, and if you subscribe to that belief then you need to take a long walk and get some fresh air, because you’re clearly spending too much time in your mam’s basement.
FSG aren’t perfect. They’ve made their share of mistakes, such as the ticketing debacle that resulted in a walkout, and the Anfield Road end expansion doesn’t look like it’s going to materialise any time soon. But constantly berating them during and after the transfer window, without giving Jürgen Klopp an ounce of blame? Weird.
We’ve seen before that Jürgen Klopp isn’t active in January. Last season this lack of activity cost Liverpool their place in a title challenge and left them scrambling for fourth. Hopefully this year, this lack of activity combined with the sale of Phil Coutinho, doesn’t leave Liverpool crashing out of the Champions League places.
That’s not to say that should be the height of our aspirations. The league is always the aim. Robin’s article claims we are headed toward ‘mediocrity’. We sit two points clear in third having dismantled league leaders and the previously unbeaten Manchester City and played some sensational football so far this season. There’s been some bumps in the road, Swansea and West Brom being the bumpiest, but there has been clear progress and qualifying for the Champions League in consecutive seasons would be a sign of this progress. If you can’t see that then you aren’t looking hard enough.
Football is supposed to be fun. If you want to hate the owners and suck the fun out of life, that’s sound, I’ll be having fun watching the Reds be boss.