10 Sept 2015

'Not Brendan's Fault': Legendary Boss blames stunning Liverpool decline on £126m transfer void

Last week, ex-Spurs boss Harry Redknapp claimed that the current Liverpool team is the 'worst' he's seen in 'years', and argued that Brendan Rodgers has spent tens of millions assembling a 'bang average' team. Harsh criticism indeed, but it's arguably true, and Redknapp has today clarified his comments, and identified the specific issue that he believes is the main cause of Liverpool's ongoing struggles.

Writing on Kicca, Redknapp argued that he merely gave an 'honest answer to a simple question', but then sought to absolve Rodgers of blame for Liverpool's current failings. He explained:

"They [Liverpool] have lost lost their four best players: Luis Suarez, Raheem Sterling and Steven Gerrard [combined worth/cost: £126m^] have moved on and Daniel Sturridge has been injured. I cannot think of any club or manager who could cope with that".

Hmmm. Redknapp may not be able to think of 'any club or manager who could cope' with losing four top players, but I can. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I give you...Southampton FC:

* 2013-14: Southampton finished 8th in the Premier League on 56 points.

* That summer, the Saints lost Lallana, Lovren, Lambert (Like Suarez, the club's top goalscorer), and Shaw, four of the club's most important players that season.

* Southampton also lost their manager, Mauricio Pocchetino, which added to the club's problems.

* Ronald Koeman (who'd never managed in the Premier League before) took over at St. Mary's, and immediately had to deal with filling the massive void of departed players.

* The Dutchman spent approximately £65m on Mane, Long, Tadic, Pelle, Bertrand, Forster Gardos, and Elia.

* The same summer, Brendan Rodgers spent approximately £118m on Lovren, Lambert, Lallana, Can, Markovic, Origi, Manquilo, Moreno, and Balotelli.

* 2014-15: Southampton finished 7th on 60 points and qualified for the Europa League.

* Despite the massive disparity in transfer spending, Liverpool finished just two points ahead of Southampton in 6th place, a regression of 22 points on the season before.

Whilst losing Suarez et al is a contributing factor to Liverpool's decline, the main reason for the club's fall from grace is Rodgers' abject performance in the transfer market, and fatal managerial limitations, both of which came home to roost last season (and are already derailing the club this season)

* Koeman - in his first season in the Premier League - coped admirably with losing Southampton's four best players, and spent his transfer funds wisely (i.e. he bought the right players), which consequently led to Southampton improving.

* Rodgers - who has years of Premier League experience - totally wasted Liverpool's transfer funds on the wrong players, and his strange tactics, and incessant square pegs in round holes policy led to one of the worst regressions in Liverpool's history.

Additionally, Southampton lost four top players at the same time. Liverpool lost only Suarez last summer, but still had Sterling, Gerrard available for the whole of the lamentable 2014-15 season. Sturridge spent a lot of the year injured, but he still made 18 appearances overall.

Imagine how worse things might've been if Rodgers lost Suarez, Sturridge, Gerrard, and Sterling at the same time. Everyone (myself included) expected Southampton to implode last season, but that never came to pass, and Koeman's managerial brilliance is the main reason for that.

Using the loss of Suarez and Sturridge as a reason for Liverpool's decline last season is just an excuse; if - like Koeman - Rodgers had bought the right players (and utilised them effectively), Liverpool almost certainly would've been able to improve on the pitiful drop to 6th place.

The last few months just shows that Rodgers hasn't learned a thing. Once again, he bought the wrong players over the summer, and like with Suarez last year, he failed to adequately replace two of the club's most important players (Gerrard and Sterling).

As such, it's no surprise that Liverpool look dire this season, and the West Ham reverse simply illustrates again that no matter how much money Rodgers' spends, Liverpool are going nowhere under his stewardship.

Ultimately, as Alex Ferguson proved over and over again, the ability of the manager is everything. Koeman handled the potentially devastating loss of important players with aplomb, and guided an inferior (and significantly less expensive) team to demonstrable improvement.

Rodgers - and Liverpool - crashed and burned.

^ Suarez: £65m | Sterling: £49m | Sturridge: £12m cost.

Author: Jaimie K


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