8 Jun 2014

Debunking LFC Myths: No 16 - BR does not have final say on Liverpool transfers

There's no getting away from it: Brendan Rodgers' performance in the transfer market over the last two years leaves a lot to be desired. Only two of the sixteen players signed in that period are bona-fide successes, and the rest - bar Mignolet - have made practically zero contribution to Liverpool's forward progress. It sounds harsh, but it's clearly the truth. To avoid having to accept this reality, however, Rodgers' rabid fans continue to peddle the spurious myth that he doesn't have 'final say' on transfers, and that the machiavellian 'transfer committee' signs players over his head. That, of course, is hogwash; as I will show, Rodgers has always had final say on transfers, and is therefore responsible for the tens of millions wasted on dud players.

Whenever the subject of Rodgers' transfer business is broached, one of the manager's disciples will attempt to defend him by claiming the following:

"Rodgers can't be blamed for transfer failures because some of the players were signed by the transfer committee"

There is no evidence to support this myth, but there is copious evidence to prove that Rodgers has final say on transfers:
JUNE 2012: In a press conference to announce Rodgers' signing, Ian Ayre refuted the idea that a transfer committee will sign players over Rodgers head: "It's not signing by committee, it's 'analysis by committee'. It's certainly not a structure where we would force a player on the manager"

JUNE 2012: In the same press conference, Rodgers insisted he will not work with a Director of Football on transfers: "That was one of the items I brought up with the club, that I wouldn't work directly with someone in that role. Abroad it works differently - you have a coach and the club will bring in the players. The coach then works with the players he’s given. I couldn't work with a Director of Football"

So - Rodgers point-blank refused to work in a structure that allowed the club to sign players over his head, yet we're supposed to believe he'd accept the same from a 'transfer committee'? How does that make any logical sense?

MAY 2013: When asked about the nature of the transfer committee, Ayre told Sports Illustrated: “We have a head of analysis, a head of recruitment, a first-team manager, myself. It's a combination of old-school scouting and watching players — and that’s Brendan, his assistants, our scouts — with statistical analysis of players across Europe and the rest of the world.”

It's important to note here that Ayre did not state, hint, or imply at any point that the transfer committee has the power to:

* Sign players without Rodgers' say so.
* Veto Rodgers' transfer targets.
* Force players on Rodgers even if he doesn't want them.

Ayre simply outlined the structure of the committee.

MAY 2013: Prior to wasting money on Alberto, Aspas, Ilori et al, Rodgers emphatically confirmed that he has final say on transfers: “There is absolutely no way a player will come in here if I don’t want him. I will always be the first person it comes to. That’s not being arrogant, that’s how we operate here and how it works in this country. It’s very clear: anyone we sign will be because I want him here.”

This is crystal clear: No player will be signed by Liverpool unless Rodgers approves it. There is no other credible interpretation to be gleaned from his comments, yet despite the unambiguous nature of the manager's declaration, some fans still persist with the myth that the transfer committee signed the likes of Assaidi, Sahin, Alberto and Aspas.

MAY 2014: Rodgers reiterates once again that he has always had final say on transfers: “The principle idea when I first came in was that I will have the first call on a player and the last call. That’s the call on whether he’s good enough to continue to look at and try to organise a deal and the last call to say yes or no. We will never bring in a player here who the manager doesn’t want in"..

Again, this is unambiguously clear: Rodgers has - since day one - had the first and last call on any player signed by Liverpool FC. He will decide if any potential transfer targets are worth pursuing, and he will ultimately say 'yes or no' to actually signing the player.

When considering the available evidence, the manager's own words on the subject arguably carry the most weight. Why would Rodgers repeatedly lie in public? Why would Ayre back up the manager's version of events? It's basically Occam's Razor: the simplest explanation is often correct. As such, I don't see how this issue can be any clearer:

* Rodgers has always had final say on transfers.
* He works with a committee to identify and analyse potential transfer targets.
* When it comes to the crunch, no player is signed by LFC without his authorisation.

In the words of Lt. Vincent Hanna: "Cut and dried. That is it".

Contrary to prevalent belief, I am not 'anti-Rodgers'. Indeed, regular readers will confirm that I enthusiastically welcomed his signing, and endlessly argued that he'd bring success to LFC ("100% behind Rodgers" ring a bell?). He is undoubtedly a superb manager, and deserves massive credit for the club's miraculous progress.

However, Rodgers is - and always should be - subject to fair, constructive criticism, and his herculean effort last season does not change the fact that many of his transfers are duds, or that he - not the transfer committee - is mainly responsible for this.



  1. Clearly the committee has told him to say that

  2. We're smart guys who can read between the lines.

  3. But but but.... It's Suarez's fault

  4. Hindsight is a wonderful thing Jaimie. Mot of the signings looked to have potential before we bought them, other clubs were after Illori and Sturridge and Coutinho have worked out fine as I am sure Sakho and Mignolet will.
    I also think Lambert was a shrewd buy who will give us a decent back up striker option and Emre Can looks good enough to get a lot of first team action this season.

  5. I think folks are being too harsh on the transfers. Maybe some of them haven't done it on the match pitch but I'm guessing some of those players still played a part (they are still good technical players except maybe Aspas) on the practise pitches, in essence enhancing match day performances. I concede there has been mass failure in the transfer market, however, they have been unlucky to not receive adequate match time, considering how our season unfolded. Had we been in position 6/7/8th most of the season I'm sure some of the more fringe players would have played more, gaining more confidence then maybe stepping up more.

    The signings so far, Lambert and Can, potentially Morena seem like three quality players so it looks like BR is learning from his mistakes. I think it time we move on from debating the transfer acquisitions of the past seasons and focus on the fact that we can see BR improving in this area. If Lallana and Shaqri arrive then we can possibly say this has been a almost 100% successful transfer window.

    I think it fair, due to Rodgers improving us as much has he has, thathe should be allowed some leeway, especially whilst we were out of the Champions league.

    Just my outlook on it.

  6. Let's be honest.....who cares it's football it's a massive club no matter what size the club every signing made is not gonna be a hit its a risk every club and manager takes,the topic is non-sense tbh not every manager gets signings spot on every time and trying to pick the best of a bad bunch won't help.
    I hate to see "potential" paid for i.e llori Alberto and so on as I think there's plenty should be used in the academy.
    Borini,aspas,coutinho and sturridge were all risks for little money and two paid off sakho I think will come good I don't thinks its a bad record tbh

  7. This topic is becoming somewhat redundant. I think we all got your point a while ago Jaimie

  8. I think Jamie should step into a boxing ring with Brendan and he can punch out all his frustrations leaving it all in the ring. Then we might have a more positive spin on what is otherwise a very good blog site.

  9. Brendan has trouble seeing good signings now a black eye wouldn't help.

  10. Broken Record is still playing,

  11. It's not 'my point' - it's self evident. I've never outlined my argument in an article properly, and there's no other article in existence that deals with this debunking this particular myth. Now, there is a record bringing all the available evidence together, and fans can use it in the ongoing battle against the spread of misinformation.

  12. This site is not about putting a 'positive spin' on LFC. The tagline is, and always has been, 'critical realism about Liverpool FC'. Fans should expect a critical approach from this site. That's the whole point.

  13. That's fair enough Jamie and I'm not saying there is anything wrong with being critical, I'm guessing Brendan himself and staff are even more critical than yourself.

    I'm saying that we were out of the champions league, well documented ownership and financial problems so to an up and coming player we looked like a sinking ship. Now Rodgers has stabilised that, I think we should be looking forward. As of last season, that is where he should now be judged. Ideas are in place, he knows exactly what is required and by the looks of it, he knows how to correct his own mistakes.

    Some of the signings were as a result of being financially restricted as well, after the Dowing and Carroll non sense, who could blame FSG for requiring proof the manager was as good as they hoped he would become (as it was a calculated risk hiring him, let's be honest) before splashing larger sums of cash.

    So with not a great deal of money to go round he had to sacrifice proven quality for young potential. There are no guarantees with players signed for their potential.

    We are an attractive proposition again, not just because CL but because we are playing outstanding football. Extra income always coming via the commercial department, I think you'll see the signings improve, Can, Lambert, Morena with maybe Lallana and a couple of others. Hopefully after this window we can move on from this obsession we have with BR transfer activity.

    I never saw this much fascination with Rafas transfers and some of those were abysmal, out right atrocious. Veronin, Gonzales, Dossena, Aquillani.....wow.......the list is endless.

  14. Every other article is about this stuff. Aspas, Alberto, etc. message received, transfer dealings have been inadequate in the past but by all accounts we've still done well and this window is looking a lot more promising. I for one am sick of reading this theme regurgitated in again and again, just worded slightly differently

  15. Make sure you visit tomorrow for my next article: "Alberto and Aspas: 10 reasons why they're a giant waste of money".

  16. Good man manager not the best player scout.....hopefully our scouting system will do better at finding and convincing BR who to sign.....

  17. Agree with Tony's post; use the academy for 'potential' and the transfer market for players whose talent is more defined.....

  18. "Rodgers' rabid fans"?? Your a joke Jamie. A joke. Call yourself a liverpool supporter. Your obviously just here to sell Advertising space and get clicks. So you'll say what're nonsense you can. Get a proper job.

  19. Sakho had the second best stats as a cb. unfortunate with injuries but he was and will be a good signing.

  20. It's not just any committee Jaimie. It's the illuminati.

  21. My comment of a broken record still playing, has been deleted for some INEXPLICABLE reason, so it looks like we play the game under JK's rules, if a comment does not suit his purpose it gets deleted, appalling media.
    Examine the transfers of the last 4 Managers and compare, I think Rodgers is way ahead, of the Aqualani's, Carroll's, or Konchelski's,

  22. My comment of a broken record still playing, has been deleted for some INEXPLICABLE reason, so it looks like we play the game under JK's rules, if a comment does not suit his purpose it gets deleted, appalling media.
    Examine the transfers of the last 4 Managers and compare, I think Rodgers is way ahead, of the Aqualani's, Carroll's, or Konchelski's,

  23. Agreed. This is one of the most important transfer windows in recent history. Everytime we got 'close' to the summit, i.e. Rafa/Houllier era... we crashed and burned big time. Committee or not, I trust Rodgers to perfect our fragile situation and help the club kick on. YNWA

  24. You don't half talk some rubbish some times.

  25. I have only seen a few people actually say that Rodgers does not have the final say and Jaimie you will be happy to know that I have not been one of those people :-)

    LFC transfer comitttee explained

    Since the departure of former director of football Damien Comolli in April 2012 and the subsequent appointment of Brendan Rodgers as manager that summer, Liverpool have reshaped their structure and taken a collective approach to the purchasing of players – and also wage structure.

    Ayre explained in an interview with Sports Illustrated magazine earlier this year:

    “We have a head of analysis, a head of recruitment, a first-team manager, myself. All of those people are all inputting into a process that delivers what a director of football would deliver.”

    Quite simply, Ayre describes the committee and the process as “a combination of old-school scouting and watching players — and that’s Brendan, his assistants, our scouts — with statistical analysis of players across Europe and the rest of the world.”

    “By bringing those two processes together, you get a much more educated view of who you should and shouldn’t be buying.”

    “What we believe, and we continue to follow, is you need many people involved in the process.”

    So, who are the people involved in the process?

    Brendan Rodgers
    First Team Manager

    As Ayre explained in the Sports Illustrated interview, “He [Rodgers] has a team of people that go out and do an inordinate amount of analysis work to establish who are the best players in that position. It’s a combination of things.”

    So, Rodgers briefs his team on the positions to fill, the scouting team then provide recommendations and the committee collectively value the player accordingly, in terms of value and also wages.

    In an interview in March Rodgers explained his vision for the squad was to have “two players in every outfield position and your three goalkeepers. Then below that having young players who can support that.”

    Dave Fallows & Barry Hunter
    Head of Recruitment & Chief Scout

    Fallows, along with chief scout Barry Hunter, joined Liverpool from Manchester City in September 2012, having been approached prior to Brendan Rodgers’ arrival. They were placed on ‘gardening leave’ by City and thus could not officially work for Liverpool in last summer’s transfer window.

    Rodgers said of Fallows, and Hunter:

    “They were appointments I was fully aware of. I’ve known Barry for a long time and Dave also. Dave was already in the offing to come here. From Dave’s position, he would only accept the job if someone like myself was coming in.”

    The appointment of the two was described as a “major coup” by The Liverpool Echo.

    Fallows was a key part of City’s staff where his role as “Football Scouting and Recruitment Coordinator” involved assigning scouts, filtering reports, preparing recommendations and presentations on the club’s targets, and compiling a database of scouted players. Seemingly his role at Liverpool is of a similar nature.

    Michael Edwards
    Head of Performance and Analysis

    Edwards is the least well-known of the committee. He was appointed at the club by Damien Comolli having worked alongside the Frenchman at Tottenham where he was head of performance analysis. His role with Liverpool changed from “Head of Analytics” to “Head of Performance and Analysis” when Fallows and Hunter, and thus the committee structure, was put in place last year.

    Edwards graduated from The University of Sheffield in 2002 in Business Management and Informatics.

    and lastly

    Ian Ayre

    Managing Director

  26. "As I'm sure Sakho and Mignolet will" - here we go again. You cannot treat expectation as fact in order to support an argument. Fact is, Sakho has been a nightmare so far and Mignolet has not been an improvement on Reina. You can expect all you want but so far they have been poor transfers.

  27. The start of this transfer window reminds me a lot of last season. We start off with a shrewd buy of an experienced player (which I'm delighted with by the way, just as I was with Touré last year) - then amidst speculation with top quality players (Mkytarian, Costa - Shaqiri, Moreno) we sign an unknown talent (Alberto - Can). Now that's not to say I'm unhappy so far because I think both Lambert and Can are good additions but I do hope to be blown away a couple of times this window. And not with panic buys on deadline day either.

  28. I don't know how you're bothered...

  29. On other high profile transfer news - just read we're looking to sign Willem Weijs from Ajax....he's a 27-year-old...youth trainer. Considering our academy's recent overhaul number 12 in the past 5 years, I'm slightly worried but at least this guy has good pedigree.

  30. The bottom line is out of 14 signings only 6 of them have been good. The other 8 have not improved the squad whether they were loan signings or permanent signings. They did not strengthen side and some were shipped out and some still need to be shipped out, as they are simply not good enough for our club.

  31. It has been a secret all along.

  32. Not everyone believes Sakho has been a nightmare. Opinions differ on that matter.

    Same with Mignolet who might not be perfect but was not a disaster. Reina was in decline. Mignolet had his first season. Let's see how he does in his second. Fact is that if we do not sign a commanding CB this summer then we will continue to leak goals no matter who we have in goal.

  33. Not really I put up a post recently and the end I said 'we can blame BR for the bad signings' and I had someone trying convince me that BR didn't make the final decisions on transfers which is nonsense.

  34. The idea that BR does not have the final say in transfers nonsense. This does not make him a bad manager in fact he's a great manager. People on here have said that he wanted Costa, Mikatyrian, Wilian and Salah but the board would not let him. Which is nonsense we placed huge bids for 3 out of the 4 targets but failed because either the player wanted CL or had unrealistic wage demands amoungst other things.

    Can we assume that BR did not have the final on Sturridge and Couthino?

  35. Thanks for this.

  36. No let's not wait for a second season and let's call it as it is right now. Mignolet has not been an improvement on Reina. He may be or he may not be but right now, he isn't. Yes we need a commanding CB which is what you should expect from paying 18 million for one last summer.

  37. I think BR's tough Antrim roots mean he would be the one doing the punching in that fight :-)

  38. Yes! Love these series.

    I completely agree, it is just a myth. Every signing from day one of BR's reign has been due to his final say. Basically, he bought badly, it happens.

    However, maybe a little bit more research could has been done on the players? I don't know.

    It's funny though because Aspas came in with a "bad-boy" reputation but he seems extremely lightweight. I still think Alberto will come good if given a chance but I just think that it's a shame that we spend so much money on players that didn't actually play.

    Hopefully this will change this season.

  39. Totally agree. It's all well and good speculating that they'll take LFC by storm in the future, but as of right now, Mignolet and Sakho are not upgrades on Reina and Carra (or indeed Skrtel or Agger)

  40. The reason Mignolet is not an improvement on Reina is because Reina, in his first couple of seasons was superb, you'll be hard pressed to find a goalkeeper in the world who was an improvement on those first few seasons. As time went on the fans opinion of him changed and he was no more invincible.

    We are replacing that suspect Reina who started costing many points for us by making silly decisions, then is flirting with Barca.

    From what I can see of MIgnolet, he is a superb shot stopper, his confidence of passing the ball out from the back is improving, coming from Sunderland or wherever it was, playing passes out from the back was a no no, so he had to learn a new part to his game. He does need to work on organisation and commanding that penalty area but If Rodgers can inspire the same sort of confidence and improvements we are seeing with Sterling, Henderson and Flanagan then I think we could have a better goalkeeper than Reina.

    Have any of you made the step up from the stock room to boardroom in one year? I doubt it, so you wouldn't know what the feeling and pressure was like, that's essentially what Mignolet has done by joining us from a sinking Sunderland. He's bound to require time to adjust, I say he has done enough to earn some leeway instead of constant criticism. Sakho is French captain so can't be a sh-it player, again some players need a tad more time to adapt to a new league.

  41. It's a fair point Eric..... good luck Jamie..... you might need that referee from the first Froch - Groves fight to step in mate.

  42. Despite any of this (and there are holes I can't be bothered with) there has been a reporter for the times and the observer who have stated that this is not the case. I am not saying they are right and Rodgers is lying but he did say Mignolet and Reina would challenge for the goalkeeper spot. Not long after this changed. Perhaps what is said publicly and what happens privately are slightly different. I do doubt any player is "forced" on Rodgers but can he check out all the signings? Every game, all their attributes? No of course not he can and probably does green light players that he has limited knowledge of trusting in the staff that do the job. Also does the committee have the power of Veto? Would we have signed Sakho rather than Caulker is Rodgers had all the power?

    Truth is I don't know for sure and have only ever begged the question rather than presume to know the answer. I'm assuming these reporters have heard something we haven't. That being there job and everything. But I would rather concede the point then bother with further discussion. Despite the myth busting for me it is still moot.

  43. I don't feel the need to agree with everything Cara says.

  44. Debatable not factual. So we then sign two other players who come from a different country may have problems with injuries and the jury remains out by the next season. By another two? Then repeat until someone comes in and is instantly better? Or give the players time to get to know the system style and more importantly their colleagues before casting them as villains. For me it's a no brainer but I suppose I see patience as a virtue.

  45. Rodgers' own words carry infinitely more weight than the unsubstantiated speculation of a couple of reporters.

  46. Ah, but does Rodgers know Krav Maga? If not, then it's advantage me ;-)

  47. There is no place on the internet for this kind of rational patience. Be gone!

  48. Speculation? Odd choice of words. This has been said before but when I have argued that transfer targets had little validity you argued against this. Yet two broadsheet journalists talking of these things are speculating rather than having some inside information. So multi million pound international deals will be easier to be informed about rather than the inner workings of a transfer committee?

    The last "speculation" I heard on the matter was that Rodgers had the main power when he signed Borini and Allen. FSG were not too happy about the deals and when the committee was set up it meant that Rodgers wasn't in charge of signings. Not saying he doesn't say yay or nay but he apparently cannot sign people without Committee say so. Meaning he is a part of the team rather than the chief of it.

    Like I say I don't know for sure but nothing above has convinced me that this "myth" is busted.

  49. Agreed. although putting Emre Can in the 'unknown talent' category is harsh. The Bayern Munich hierarchy rate this kid massively. And comparisons with Ballack and Bastian Schweinsteiger is nothing short of his potential. Really really happy with this signing imo at under £10m

  50. Greg I'd already packed my bags and was waiting for the taxi ... just as I hit the full stop button.

  51. He may not know Krav Maga but he can defeat anyone carrying a cricket bat. Advantage even.

  52. Whether you're convinced or not is irrelevant. Since day one, Rodgers has stated categorically that he has final say on transfers. Ian Ayre has basically confirmed this, and there's no reason to suggest either is lying.

    There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that Rodgers doesn't have final say.

  53. Rationality and punctuation!?! No it's the right decision. You make the rest of us look bad so put your coat on lad.

  54. Final say. I am not saying he doesn't. Entire say? This is what I am arguing against.

    We need a player, say CB. The scouting staff do their job and get names, Rodgers asks they check out caulker as well. They as a team go through the names looking at stats and scouting reports. They narrow the names down. Only Rodgers wants Caulker. Caulkers name is thrown out. They end up with two names. After discussion THEY decide on one name and Rodgers agrees.

    I used Caulker's name for ease but obviously this is hypothetical. There is nothing in any quote that says that this is not the process. This is what I have taken from respected journalists to be how signings are made. If everyone but Rogders wanted to sign a player I don't thin that player would be signed. Same as if only Rodgers wanted to sign a player.

  55. It has been difficult enough for me to accept you were right about Rodger's having the final say on transfers but no one is going to convince me that my world is not pretty flat.

  56. Mignolet, Cissokho, Sakho and Allen all played a significant role in a team that went from 7th to second. You can say what you like about those players but if they were not all good players it's simply not possible for Liverpool as a club to be as good as it is. In the toughest football league in the world you can't have passengers, it just doesn't happen, and you sure as hell can't have passengers when you go within a result of winning the title. Of course there are better players out there and very few players in our squad are above making a number of mistakes, but I really find it pedantic and frankly insulting to the club to suggest that they haven't helped move things forward. Every one of those players made a significant contribution and I really don't understand the mindset of someone constantly picking them apart and expecting something more. It's such a negative and depressing attitude to football. I've thoroughly enjoyed what every one of these players has had to offer and I can honestly say that I am proud to have every one of them in the team. They were a part of what was an amazing season, possibly the most remarkable season I've ever witnessed from LFC. They were the men who carried the piano while the obvious talents were playing the tune. That you think only those talented superstars with the easily counted stats should be recognised while the rest should be dismissed sums up for me exactly what I think is wrong with how you think, and write, about this game.

  57. Totally agree with you.

  58. Greg - why do you persist in ignoring Rodgers' own comments on the subject? There is no evidence that the transfer committee can 'throw out' a target submitted by Rodgers, so where does idea that he can be overruled like that come from?

    It seems to me you're just trying to validate your argument. Rodgers specifically stated the following:

    I will have the first call on a player and the last call. That’s the call on whether he’s good enough to continue to look at and try to organise a deal and the last call to say yes or no

    As confirmed by Ian Ayre, the TC is 'analysis by committee' - the various members will give their input, but as Rodgers clearly stated, he has 'first and last call' on transfer targets.

    There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that the committee has veto powers over Rodgers.

    As such, why do you insist such a power exists?

  59. It's clear from the Clint Dempsey failed transfer that Rodgers' has not had full say on who does or doesn't come into the club. That said, I also fully admit he's probably been responsible for a number of poor signings so I'm not being blind to that but I'm not convinced that anyone outside of LFC management knows how things have really worked within the transfer committee despite what is stated in public by Rodgers and Ayre. Just because something is stated in public does not make it the whole truth - what is Rodgers' going to say, that despite him saying he won't take the job without having full say on transfers he actually doesn't - he's never going to admit that nor is Ayre going to publicly contradict him on it - they'll say one thing publicly and deal with it privately (and presumably as part of Rodgers' new contract negotiations if it is an issue). Bottom line is that no matter who has said what I am sure there is blame that should be attributed to every member of the whole committee (Rodgers definitely included) for quite a few of our failed signings over the last 2 years.
    PS I still can't get over spending 21M on Aspas, Llori and Alberto tho!

  60. Muhammad Ibrahim3:33 pm, June 09, 2014

    This window is very very important for us. It is not about targeting players in their 30s, unless they can offer something and can come on the cheap like Lambert which is a shrewd bit of business. We should be going in real up coming players like Shaqiri, Mateo Kovacic, Heung Son Min, Matio De Sciglio, Junior Malanda, Aleksander Mitrovic and perhaps Caulker. Should we be able to hold onto our existing important players we will have a squad that will challenge for the top 4 and the league for many years to come.

  61. Please prove to me how a keeper like Cech would have done any better with our back four last season.

    I bet you would be expecting the same of Ilori if he had cost us £18m or so? You are generalising now.

    Surely Skrtel who has been at the club since 2008 could have stepped up to the plate?

  62. Completely with you on this one.

  63. Mascherano came from another country and was an instant success. Alonso likewise. Suarez likewise. So why can we not expect the same from Sakho?

  64. I'm not saying it's impossible but one reason could be ALL THE TIME OUT WITH INJURY. Sorry for capitals but felt there needed emphasis.