When Brendan Rodgers was asked about his Liverpool side suffering the same fate as Spurs after their summer spending spree, he responded, “At Liverpool there’s a strategy behind what we are doing.” This was in July as Liverpool was completing the purchase of Divock Origi from Lille. Just five months later, Liverpool are languishing in 11th place in the league, they’ve been dumped out of the Champions League unceremoniously with their grand plans in tatters. So have Liverpool pulled a Spurs post their summer spending spree? At least in the short-term, yes.
Both teams had to replace their talismanic figures after they were sold to the Spanish mega clubs for astronomical transfer fees. Both teams were coming off relatively successful seasons (even as Liverpool’s was more successful), they had managers that were fairly comfortable in their jobs, and now had a deeper squad than ever in order to press on higher up the table and in Europe. But along the way, something went wrong. Tottenham’s new players never quite gelled in with the older hands, whether it was because of poor management or struggling to adapt to the Premier League, and form dipped dramatically. Bad losses followed, including blowouts at the hands of the big teams, with the final straw coming against Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool with a 5-0 hammering at the Lane. That was a short 367 days ago, as Liverpool would have one of their best seasons in years.
The stars aligned for Liverpool in 2013-14. Their rivals had to play vastly larger amounts of fixtures, they stayed relatively healthy, and the lethal combination of Suarez-Sturridge-Sterling blew away everyone in their path. But when controversy continued to follow Suarez from Merseyside to Brazil, Liverpool knew exactly what was next. In anticipation of the impending loss of their talisman, they looked far and wide to replace him. In that process, they built up imposing depth which, in theory, would have put them in a fantastic position to deal with their new fixture clutter and higher status in the league and in Europe. But again, something went wrong. Liverpool’s defense didn’t improve from its poor form of the season past, in fact it got worse. Their midfield issues were not fixed by their additions of Emre Can and Lazar Markovic, and the loss of Suarez and the injury to Daniel Sturridge has meant the goals have completely dried up. The signing of Mario Mario Balotelli turned a dressing room in harmony on its head despite the Gaffer’s protestations.
So if you were to compare the two seasons at the point when Spurs made one of their inevitable managerial changes, then Liverpool have in fact pulled a Spurs. Their signings upset the balance of the squad, and they have failed to adequately replace their transcendent star. Even though replacing the goals of that star is nigh on impossible, neither team was able to even somewhat replace them. They have both ended up in the same place in Europe, the same place in the Capital One Cup, and relatively similar league positions. Their problems on the pitch are similar too – lack of goals, leaky defenses, easily exploitable tactics. Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it…
Tottenham went about trying to fix the mess they made by firing their manager, which didn’t end up doing them any good. They are now just starting to begin the process of cleaning up, but even that has had bumps and problems along the way. Liverpool are at a crossroads. They can stay the course and hope Brendan Rodgers has the tools and money at his disposal to fix the problems, or they can go down the Tottenham path and hope a managerial change will do the trick. Neither are rosy options and FSG have to think carefully now lest they send their club further into the hole they’ve dug themselves.
So yes Brendan, Liverpool have pulled a Spurs, even if there was a strategy behind your summer Supermarket Sweep.
But, there is a crumb of comfort. John Henry isn’t Daniel Levy, so the fear of the sack isn’t nearly as strong.
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