Building A Dynasty: The New Liverpool FC

Photo by wekkuzipp. Dalglish (pictured center).

In 1959, following a successful start to the decade, Liverpool found itself a club in decline – lying mid-table in the Second Division. But then a man by the name of Bill Shankly walked through the door. Shankly immediately set about plans to overhaul every aspect of the club, releasing 24 players he deemed not fit to wear the shirt, as well as revitalizing the way the players trained and creating a close-knit team of backroom staff.

Needless to say the club never looked back and after gaining promotion and stabilizing the club in the top flight, Liverpool clinched their first league title under the new regime in 1963-64. The foundations were laid and along with his successor Bob Paisley, Liverpool went on to dominate the game in both England and Europe for two decades during the 70’s and 80’s.

Fast forward to now and similarities can be drawn between that December back in 1959 and the start of ‘King’ Kenny Dalglish’s first full season in charge. Granted Dalglish need not worry about the state of the club’s training facilities, and with the modern day salaries he will not be hiring a bus to take the players from Anfield to Melwood – times have changed. He has however inherited a squad that is stumbling, finishing 7th and 6th in the last two seasons respectively.

A quick look at the Liverpool squad will show you that over the past few years it has become littered with deadwood on inexplicably high wages. The blame for which should lie mainly at the feet of the previous owners, who by bleeding the club dry through loans and interest payments forced then manager Rafa Benitez into taking gambles on these mercenaries.

As a result the task facing Dalglish is a sizeable one, although thankfully for him he has the backing of Fenway Sports Group (FSG) – an altogether different set of owners from cowboys Tom Hicks and George Gillett. Led by principal owner John W Henry, FSG have stated their belief that in order for the club to make money it must be successful, and therefore funds to build a squad capable of challenging will be available.

The signings of Andy Carroll, Luis Suarez and Jordan Henderson not only provide an example of the financial muscle FSG are prepared to flex, they also illustrate the preferred model of purchasing youth with potential (and resale value). Had Fernando Torres been signed by FSG he would have been a perfect example of the model – signing for Liverpool aged 23 for around £22m and after scoring a lot of goals for the club being sold for £50m.

The strategy of buying the best young talent is a perfect way of ensuring Liverpool can once again build a dynasty to be proud of. With this blend of youth and experienced players such as Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Dirk Kuyt to name a few, if Dalglish and Director of Football Damien Comolli manage to get the right players in over this summer period, Liverpool could have a settled squad capable of challenging for honors for years to come.

Whilst signing the top young players could provide Liverpool with a squad to be feared it does still represent a risk in the fact that not all players with plentiful potential will eventually go on to be a success at the highest level – just ask Ryan Babel. A problem FSG appears willing to offset with their ‘Moneyball’ model of being willing to ‘plug gaps by paying big money where necessary’.

The willingness to pay big money for top potential coupled with a successful youth policy could well produce a solid sustainable model. With the top coaches and academy facilities, along with a manager with a willingness to promote players through the ranks Liverpool becomes a desirable place for top youngsters to come to develop their game. It only takes a couple of these players to make the grade and substantial savings will have been made, freeing up money to plug any immediate holes that may appear with higher profile, established players.

As Chelsea’s squad ages and players from Manchester United’s golden generation slowly start to retire, the importance of Liverpool making the right choices over this transfer window could be paramount. There’s a gap to be filled at the top and with ‘King’ Kenny Dalglish being backed by what appear good owners coupled with adoring fans, there appears no reason why Liverpool cannot be the team to fill it.

Watch out – The Liver bird is rising from the ashes.

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36 thoughts on “Building A Dynasty: The New Liverpool FC”

  1. I agree that there are lots of changes afoot at Anfield. However, I’m not convinced that the present policy of buying “British” is a sound one when most of these youngsters are over-priced and lack technical ability. There are lots of international youngsters who have more to offer for less money. It’s not just the money that bothers me, if Liverpool has the money to spend then that’s alright by me, but that the players like Carroll and Henderson are nowhere nearly as good technically as players like Hernandez of Manchester United as an example. Watching Henderson in the U-21 tournament highlights how average he is compared to others in the tournament.

    Liverpool are also being linked with Stuart Downing and Charlie Adam when they could be buying better players for the same money.

    Liverpool are gambling.

    1. I agree that the prices payed for young British talent are inflated, but to be fair to Kenny and Damien Comolli, the European transfer window doesn’t open until July 1st. That is why we’re seeing a focus on British based players to date.

    2. Kind of a hollow criticism if you are going to knock the English buys and then ignore the one international buy that looks to be sensational in Luis Suarez. Also, Henderson and the rest of the u-21’s suffered under a horrible manager in Pearce. Carroll was pretty darn good when healthy, has a rocket of a left foot and can score goals with the best of them with proper service.

    3. The thing with buying home-grown players is that UEFA is planning to require that 9 of the 18 players in the match day squad to be home-grown, not just 8 of those 25 registered.

  2. Bringing in overpriced, hyped up, skilless English players will get you nowhere. Why not raid Spain for all their young talent? Better players at less than half the price of English slop.

    Henderson and Adam (Scottish I know) are both rubbish.

  3. ‘overpriced, hyped up, skilless’ — how about ‘judgemental, ill-informed, patronising’ { the comments that is). We have already brought in a crop of good international young talent, some should make it (Suso) many probably not (pacheco, ayala). We need more british talent because of the rules, simple as that. The price of a player now reflects this, and his age, the situation of his contract and its duration, not just how skilful he is. We all know anyway that football is not only about skill, but also about commitment, work, and determination. The same moronic criticisms said Rafa was wrong to bring in young foreign talent, said Lucas was no good. All proved wrong. You think you know more than Kenny Dalglish ??? Crazy comments.

    1. i was the best player in anfield in 1993
      for the last three years i was the the best players and man of the match at that matches and i scored 150goals in one league

  4. While I agree with your sentiments regarding the technical abilities of British players v foreigners, I do believe that a nucleus of British talent is key to the longterm success of any premiership club. Over the past two decades we’ve seen 4 teams win the prem and it can be argued that each team possessed a healthy talent of first team British/Irish players. Perhaps the only exception being the Arsenal team in 2004 which only featured Sol Campbell and Martin Keown as the ever present British talent. How interesting that Arsenal were never able to truly capitalize on their dominance…perhaps that was down to a lack of British fighting spirit? United and Chelsea – the two dominant teams of the last 7 years – have had at least 4 or 5 regular first team British players in their sides. At Anfield we have an ageing Jamie Carragher and Gerrard is already 31. So the purchase of Carrol and now Henderson is key to building that British nucleus. Furthermore, with FIFA’s new rulings due to be implemented next season when no more than 17 players can be over the age of 21 and the rest being made up of home grown talent, it is imperative to the future of the club that we buy young British talent now. Over and above all of this is the mere fact that British players know how to roll their sleeves up when the going gets tough and that can be just as important as technical ability over 38 league match campaign. I also believe that as much as any player wants to win as many trophies as possible, the lure of winning a European trophy can sometimes outweigh that of winning a domestic British league. Many foreigners who come to these shores have already won a domestic league title be it in their own homeland or in one of the other major leagues, so a Europa trophy or more importantly the Champions’ League can be seen as the ultimate prize. Whereas I’m sure if you asked most british players what their number one priority is, you’ll find it’s the Premiership. For those reasons I believe Kenny and FSG are making the right moves.

  5. The price of young talented English players is just going to keep on rising especially when the new rules kick in so in a sense investing in them now is only going to save money in the long run. It will be interesting to see how Liverpool do when Gerrard and Carragher eventually retire, same with John Terry and fat Frank at Chelsea. The problem with the best young English talent though is they are nowhere near as good the best young foreign players, so they will never be able to compete at the highest level on a consistent basis.

    Liverpool have the right idea, buy upcoming players and surround them with experienced players and hope for the best.

  6. It doesn’t matter where the players come from as long as they can appreciate and understand the culture of the club, more importantly for a storied club like Liverpool.

    You want to find players who want to play for Liverpool because it’s Liverpool, not because of Champions League football, not because of the salary, etc but because of being part of a great club and want to be part of history.

    1. In another season or so it will matter where they come from because of the new rules. I agree though id much rather have a player whos maybe not the most talented but is willing to die trying for the club. The kind of player who plays for the badge on the front of the shirt and not the name on the back, like G.Neville and Carragher.

      1. The current homegrown rules are easy to satisfy for LFC (the requirement is not 8 homegrown, but really max 17 foreign players which LFC will not be close to).

        If the FIFA 9+9 rule goes into effect (and is found legal), that will be much more difficult for clubs. Clubs may be expecting that to go through.

  7. LFC is only buying British now, but that does not mean that they are not planning to purchase from the continent. The transfer window for Europe is not even open yet. They may have deals that will be ready to go soon.

    Very few people knew about Henderson until 3 days before he signed. The ITKs don’t know much at all.

    Buying young British players to have squad roles now and buying more established players as starters is a great strategy (if that is their strategy). It will be hard to bring in players from other countries to play squad roles if they don’t “understand” LFC, FSG, and the future possibilities.

    Yes – LFC have purchased British to this point (actually only one senior player has been purchased), but we have not filled the two empty starting roles yet (LB, winger/Wide forward/wide midfielder – either side with Suarez as the other wide forward in a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1) and those could very well be established stars from the UK or the continent.

  8. a few comments: @Spiv Arsenal’s decline isn’t caused by the lack of British “fighting spirit”, it’s done to the fact that the Invincibles got old and tho they are a good attacking side, Wenger hasn’t managed to replace players that added steel to the side like Vieira and Campbell and their best striker, van Persie, is injury-proned with no real replacement.

    And also, the new squad ruling isn’t that “no more than 17 players can be over the age of 21 and the rest being made up of home grown talent”, it’s only 25 players can be registered to avoiding teams like Man City from hoarding players and out of that 25 players, 8 of them and must spent 3 years before their 21st b’day in any of the English clubs and inside that 8, 4 must be within the club that’s registering them.

    1. I didn’t go into the entire home-grown rules, and I don’t think that the 25 max squad rule will really have much of an effect on Liverpool.

      I guess I should have put “foreign” in quotes because of the 3 year/season rule. It is 17 “foreign” players over the age of 21 on 1/1 of the year the season starts. LFC only has 13 right now (including Aqua if he comes back). This includes Poulsen, Jova, and Kyrgiakos who will most likely be gone. LFC would need a net of 5 pickups (realistically 9 in 4 out) to violate the rules. That is not going to happen – LFC is not going to buy 9 foreign players over the age of 21.

      And you don’t NEED 8/4 home grown players that count in the squad, you will just have less players than 25 players above the 21 cutoff registered – that is why the limit is really 17 “foreign” players. I actually don’t think that LFC will have 25 players above the 21 cutoff but that may be close.

      And out of all the youth players at LFC, I think only Mavinga would not count as home grown when he finally counts (if he is still at LFC).

  9. And also, despite the transfer window (not just foreign but England as well) not being opened until 1st of July, that doesn’t mean transfer cannot be pre-negotiated. All the paperwork can be prepared before the window opens but it isn’t until 1st of July where players can be unveiled by their respective clubs.

  10. LFC should sign mild fielders from Africa who can play hard game and get us 2 different strikers to boast our scoring chances.
    King is going great work but it should be on all the component of the team.

  11. Kaiser is absolutely correct. Players from other leagues cannot be registered before July 1 but there’s no rule preventing clubs from making deals before July 1. So the transfer window is already opened and one does not have to wait till July 1. So those who believe that clubs have to wait till July 1 to make deals across Europe are ill informed. Manchester United have already agreed a fee with Atletico Madrid and wages with De Gea despite the July 1 registration restriction. Real Madrid have already made a deal for Sahin from Germany. Also Marveux, a Liverpool target, just agreed terms with Newcastle. Lots of other examples.

    I think some Liverpool fans are worried on too many home-grown talent, some questionable, are being bought at the expense of foreign targets many of whom are much better talent. With all the money already spent on British talent and rumored to be spent on players like Downing, Dann and Adam, how much more will Mr Henry spend on foreign players? Not much I’m sure.

  12. @Chris- Good article. If Liverpool can add a little more depth they have a shot at the top 4. Suarez could win the Golden Boot.

    If Liverpool’s business plan is to buy young players and sell them off later, how does Andy Carroll fit in? 35 million for a guy with less than 20 career EPL goals seems to go against this philosophy.

    1. dont get hung up on the cost of carroll.john henry said torres wanted out liverpool decided they wanted 15mil + carroll. newcastle set the price and chelsea paid up. henry said he didnt think chelsea would pay and will be interested to see how they fair when new money laws come into effect.

  13. Liverpool dominated for decades with a strong British/Irish core, Man Utd built a 2 decade domination based on the same concept. Liverpool struggle for two decades mainly buying influx of ‘cheaper more technical’ French/Spanish players. However Kenny is a fool to buy young British talent with potential that can be built into a team and who are not going to be constantly agitating for a more to Barca/Real or whoever.

  14. Buying British talent is one thing but buying quality British talent is quite another. Carroll who was bought for 35 million pounds is by all accounts not worth that much now nor does he have the technical skills to be that good later. He also has off-field problems which doesn’t bode well. Henderson who was bought for 20 million is quite average and so poor that he has been mediocre in the U-21 tournament. He was so poor today that he was taken off and after he did England went on to score. The worry for Liverpool fans is that Commoli has a track record for overpaying while he was at Spurs. With all the money they’ve spent on these average players there won’t be any left for quality talent.

    Unfortunately Britain does not produce technically sounded players like other European countries. Just look at the quality of play from the likes of Switzerland and Spain in the U21 tournament and you get the idea of how poor English talent is. Just watching the England-Czech game and after being one goal ahead England have just lost 2-1 and are now out of the tournament.

  15. I predict Liverpool won’t win the Premier League for another decade. Maybe another Champions League, but not the Premier League. The club just isn’t good enough.

  16. Carroll has no technical upside? R U kidding? In 25 years I have yet to see a 6’4″ forward who can hold up play, have complete control of the ball at his feet, tackle, pass long or short, and score from 30 yds ( not to mention he’s one of the best headers of the ball in the PL). If you expect a man his stature to be able to dribble like Ronaldo or pass like Messi, you know nothing of football. For his size and build hes about as technical as it gets.

    1. If he is already great at all those things like you claim what exactly is his upside for the next 7-8 years?

      I think you have it a little backwards his upside is he COULD potentially be great at all those things given time. If Liverpool paid 35m and hes already the finished article then Newcastle just robbed your lot blind, hell that would even make the Owen Hargreaves deal look like the bargain of the century for us, at least we only wasted 18m + his wages.

  17. drogba and ibrahimovic come to mind at more skilful power centre forwards.

    but hahahaha 20 millions for henderson, hahahahah my god he was awful in the u21s wasnt he.

  18. RobD, you are delusional if you think Carroll “can hold up play, have complete control of the ball at his feet, tackle, pass long or short, and score from 30 yds ( not to mention he’s one of the best headers of the ball in the PL)”. He is average in most of things and cannot hold the ball up if he’s life depended on it. I’m not sure whom you’ve been watching.

    English palyers are shite!

  19. Carrol is tall and can head the ball well, some times. Did you see the easy header he missed against Spurs? He had half a good season in the EPl at Newcastle and suddenly he was touted as the next Alan Shearer. The guy is OK, nothing more. As sson as his form dips you can bet he will do something stupid in a bar. It’s in his DNA. Liverpool overpaid for an overrated player.

    I agree that Henderson right now looks like a bust for Liverpool. At least he will be Gerard’s understudy so it will be a while till he is a starter. Who knows, maybe he will become a little better than average. Still 20 million is way over the top for someone with his talent. Carroll on the other hand was brought to start right away. And 35 million for him?

    Looks like Liverpool are buying the most expensive players rather than the best players in their positions. I don’t see this new Anfield revolution ending well. Too many average buys.

  20. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is 6′ 5″‘ tall and is much, much better than Carroll. I have watched Carroll and he does not hold the ball up well, has no pace, cannot go past defenders easily and his passing is very average. What he does do well is head the ball. Sorry but I don’t see Carrool as being anywhere nearly as good as the best strikers in the world.

  21. just putting it out there. 35million for carrol was just good business by newcastle, liverpool didnt lose out on anything. they wanted 15mil plus carrol so chelsea made the deal. and henderson was 16million. i do personally agree the 35mil was way off wat he’s worth but thank mr russia for that one. henderson has been very poor at the under 21’s but in january he was targeted by SAF and he was considered outstanding.
    I honestly have to believe that KK and Camolli have a game plan to bring in the players needed for certain positions and i think/hope their will be a bit of spainish, italian and french flair running around.

  22. Building a Dynasty? Poppycock!.

    Manchester City are now in a position where they will be able to buy top players at the drop of a dime making them instant challengers for the title. They will very shortly be able to buy the best British talent as money is no object. They can afford to wait to see if a player is good rather than taking a chance in the hope that a player will come good at some point in the future. That’s the difference between a bygone era when you had to build for the future. In this day and age, the future is now.

    That’s why I question Liverpool’s buying strategy. They are betting than the players will come good. Clubs like City are buying players who can make an impact right now.

  23. I totally agree that the way of Manchester City will get you success as they are buying for now. That will keep them at the top unless they run out of money, which they won’t. Even when the homegrown rule goes into affect they will be able to attract the best talent because they will be able to guarantee top wages and fighting to win trophies on many fronts. That’s how things are done now, like it or not. It’s a fact of the state of today’s soccer culture.

    It’s good that Liverpool are trying to give young, talented local players an opportunity to play on the big stage. The thing is that I don’t see their buys or targets making a serious impact. I don’t see Liverpool winning the EPL title with their startegy. I can see them winning the FA Cup or if they get into the Champions league winning it because these tournaments can be won with a favorable draw. You don’t have to play every team to win it.

    1. Just to inform all the haters of LFC that we are back and in right track under the leadership of King Kenny. Thus, please do simply comment/critize about Caroll, Henderson, Adam etc etc and just wait for the right time to see them exploding their talents. I’ve been supporting LFC since the age of 12 and it has been almost 22 years since then, and seen many players coming in and outs but the club remains same added with their history and legacy inherited from the Shankly’s era…

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