Last week captain Steven Gerrard spoke out against Liverpool’s transfer policy, which has seemingly prompted managing director Ian Ayre to give an interview with The Liverpool Echo, seeking to explain the policy. Instead, his interview has raised more questions than answers.
Ayre told The Echo that “It’s not a policy which is set in stone but it’s an aspiration.”
More worryingly though, Ayre claimed that had Liverpool signed Clint Dempsey in the summer, they would not have been able to afford to sign Daniel Sturridge in January.
“If we had spent that money in the summer then we wouldn’t have done that trade recently,” explained Ayre.
And yes, the managing director of Liverpool FC used the word “trade” when discussing a player signing.
So, we either have the resources to compete with anybody in football, or we wouldn’t be able to afford £12m if we spent £6m. Quite a difference. Which is it?
Final Say on Transfers?
Meanwhile, in the same interview, Ayre said;
“If the right more senior player became available and was the right person to contribute – and the manager made that point strongly – we would definitely consider it.”
“Consider it”. That clearly suggests that the manager does not have the final say on transfers.
And yet, when discussing the new scouting team in September, Rodgers said;
“I’ll then have the final say over who comes in. It’s very simple.”
Again, more contradiction.
The question also is, who is the “we” that Ayre means when he says “we would definitely consider it”? Who, exactly, does have the final say on transfers?
As was evidenced with the farcical end to the transfer window when Rodgers and Liverpool allowed Andy Carroll to leave, with Rodgers confident that a replacement, or more, would be brought in, something doesn’t add up.
New Contracts are not Signings
Another disappointing, and worrying, statement from Ayre arrived when discussing the importance of experienced players – players whom Gerrard has rightly pointed out are just as vital – and Ayre cited the renewal of player contracts as evidence.
“As everyone saw in the summer we renewed deals with many of our senior player. So experience is vital and we will consider more experienced players where it makes sense,” said Ayre.
The question here is, what is the alternative? Don’t have our experienced and strongest players sign new contracts and thus allow them to leave? It’s hardly something to sing from the hills is it. It’s like citing the fact we had 11 players start every game this season.
The PR spin from Ayre continued with a quote claiming that “we have probably got the best balance in terms of any team in the league”. Surely if that were true and we had the best balance in the League we wouldn’t be sitting in eighth, with a desperately thin squad and having failed to beat any team placed above us this season.
The latest series of contradictions follow on from how FSG changed from demanding Champions League qualification from Kenny Dalglish in his first season in charge – sacking him irrespective of picking up the club’s first trophy in six years – to explaining the need for the long-term project under Brendan Rodgers upon his appointment.
Perhaps that was one of the few lessons learned by principal owner John Henry and co.
Henry said “We don’t want to put any pressure on Brendan by saying you have got to make the Champions League this year.”
Henry wrote an open letter to the fans after the infamous end to the transfer window claiming that “It will not be easy, it will not be perfect, but there is a clear vision at work.”
Right now, that vision looks far from clear.
Experience at the top
Until a senior figure is appointed to help run the football operation, and is based on Merseyside, questions over FSG will continue from supporters. Having a chairman and principal owner reside on another continent is not the way a club suffering from huge errors by the previous management will recover.
Nor is appointing people to positions in which they have no previous experience or knowledge. Ian Ayre is a commercial expert acting as managing director, Billy Hogan is the club’s ‘chief commercial officer’ who was previously managing director for Fenway with no football experience. Hogan, along with Ayre and Werner, isn’t based on Merseyside. Jen Chang was appointed as director of communications despite no previous experience of such a role, he was of course sacked months into the role for the infamous Duncan Jenkins saga.
Even manager Brendan Rodgers lacks experience, having only had one full season in the Premier League prior to his appointment. Being thrown into such a big club and lacking experience around him doesn’t make his job any easier.
Take a look at the key positions within a football club; manager, chairman, managing director, owner, communications – not one of those at Liverpool FC has more than two years experience in their role.
Experience is needed not just on the field, but off the field too at Liverpool.