I remember a time under Benitez’s reign at Liverpool when the money had all gone. No big signings for his successful team to keep them where they needed to be. You were more likely to see a cheapo Spanish signing or a back door bosman.
Fast forward to 2011 and you have some pretty hefty transfer fees being flashed around. Even before the Torres deal was going ahead, the transfer of Suarez was agreed for £22.8m and it looked like the good times were returning to Anfield.
Finally a big signing for the fans to cheer about. Then the Torres news started to gather pace and took the shine off what a good signing Suarez is. The man from Uraguay must have been in a spin, one minute looking forward to forming a partnership with Fernando Torres, the next probably slightly apprehensive about the move and who he can form a partnership with. Let’s be clear about this, Suarez is a second striker rather than someone who leads the line, this is why the Carroll transfer had to happen.
Without Carroll the Suarez signing almost would have been useless, Liverpool would experience similar problems to what they have had for the last 2 or 3 seasons in attack – without Torres, who else was there?
Enter Andy Carroll. Now £35m is a lot of money for a striker who is largely unproven, especially at Premier League level. The fact he has had an England call up has probably increased his value, but I think it was the panic buying culture the window seems to create. It is plain and simple to see what happened here. Liverpool needed someone to play with Suarez or potentially this was money down the drain. Liverpool are not in the Champions League or having the best season domestically, so attracting a world class striker would be difficult.
Carroll was a ‘getable’ striker that has bags of potential and has the physical attributes. But the reason why Liverpool were unchallenged in signing him is that he is a gamble. Carroll’s off the field etiquette and behaviour has been highlighted, and he already has a blot on his copy book and his card is marked with the media. No other club would pay this crazy price for someone with no record and there is no doubt that Liverpool were held to ransom over Carroll. Newcastle were in control on this one, knowing Liverpool were desperate with time running out, but more importantly Newcastle knew that Liverpool were picking up £50m cash for Torres.
Suarez could be world class, but the step up to the Premier League for any player from the Eredivisie is a significant one from not only a performance perspective, but also a monetary one. In Holland, even at clubs like Ajax, PSV, and Feyenoord, the players wage structure is very tight. The Dutch FA keep a strict eye on clubs and impose point reductions for financial mismanagement. A move for any player to any Premiership team is the promised land for players in the Eredivisie.
King Kenny’s comeback in my eyes, has been slightly soured by the exit of Torres. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Chelsea go back for Reina in the summer. It wouldn’t be surprising if Reina wants to leave in the summer. But in terms of signing these two, he hasn’t done too badly – but was it Kenny?
To be honest I am more than 100% sure these signings are Comolli’s. I don’t think the management would have taken Kenny seriously if he had said let’s spend £35m on Andy Carroll. Comolli was employed by the board to be involved in transfer dealings and guiding them as to what they should and shouldn’t be doing. Due to his relationship with John W Henry there is no doubt that he was a key part in both of these transfers, from contract negotiation, to opinion and statistical analysis on both players.
I have no doubt in my mind these two could form a great partnership, but it is what is around them that will define their success, at least for the remainder of this season. I am sure there is renewed optimism at Anfield, which is an ironic scenario after losing your star player. What will happen with Liverpool as this season goes on remains to be seen. But one thing is for sure, Liverpool are fast becoming a team with potential again instead of a team that is considered in demise.