"We don’t’ want to be like Chelsea, United or City” – Dispelling a Myth
Across social media as a Liverpool fan, I constantly see the phrase “we don’t’ want to be like Chelsea, United or City” and I am sure that you have seen it many times yourself. But what does this actually mean? Is it that we don’t want to be winning trophies and titles like these clubs? Or is it that we don’t want to be spending large amounts of money on players and wages known as “buying the league”? I’m inclined to think it’s the latter with Pogba’s incredible £89million fee being the go-to statistic. However, in modern football, it is very clear that both winning trophies and spending large amounts of money on top quality players are very intrinsically linked.
Lets look at this in a fundamental way. Very generally speaking, if you have the best players in your squad then you are going to win most of your games and therefore win trophies and be successful. I completely understand there are many more factors to this such as the manager and their system (as we saw with Chelsea from last season to this season) as well as other anomalies (Leicester last season), but generally I believe having the best players means you win more. If this weren’t true, then teams would be finishing in very different positions in the league every season. Instead we see general trends for teams’ league positions e.g. Arsenal finishing in the top 4, Sunderland being near relegation, Stoke being mid-table etc. This applies to the other leagues across Europe such as Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Juventus etc. all finishing at the top of their leagues almost every year. Quite clearly, they all have the best players.
So what is Liverpool’s trend? In the last seven years, we have finished 8th twice, 7th twice, 6th twice and 2nd once. We have also won one League Cup in this period. Our trend is to be outside of the top 4, just above mid-table and not winning many trophies. Lets look at Chelsea, City and United. Chelsea have won the title twice, (look likely to win it again this season), finished in the top four five times and have won five *other major trophies. City have won the title twice, finished in the top four six times and won three other major trophies. United have also won the league twice, finished in the top four five times and have won three major trophies (including this years League Cup). This illustrates the clear gulf in class between the three mentioned clubs and Liverpool FC.
We are not a successful club at present - not even close. Achieving top four this season was the absolute minimum requirement and this is looking more unlikely to happen as weeks go by. Liverpool do not have the squad depth or the quality of players to be able to properly compete and be successful. United’s recent League Cup win stands testament to this. Indeed they were massively helped out by a very poor decision ruling out Southampton’s perfectly legitimate goal. But Zlatan Ibrahimovic – an experienced, world class, top quality player scored two goals and won them that trophy. Is there a single player at Liverpool we can call experienced, world class and top quality? Let me help you out here; no.
This is the type of player we need for us to win trophies, be successful and consistently finish in the top four. Worryingly, we are failing to attract this kind of top talent to come and play for Liverpool. Not offering the required wages and transfer fees to obtain these players is what I believe is the difference between Liverpool and the three named clubs. Lallana has recently signed a new deal worth £110,000 making him one of our top owners. On the other hand, Ibrahimovic and Pogba of United are earning over £200,000, double that of one of our top earners. Costa and Hazard of Chelsea are also near the £200,000 mark. Aguero and Toure at City are just over £200,000 as well. Plus, many of the first team players at these clubs are earning £100-£200,000 such as De Bruyne, Courtouis, Kante and Mkhitaryan to name a few. These are the top players that make the difference in football matches yet our team doesn’t seem to possess anyone of this ilk. Since May 2015, FFP (Financial Fair Play) rules have been “eased” (aka not enforced) meaning that these high wages and transfer fees have not negatively affected these clubs. People may argue about debt, particularly at Man United, but I don’t see this affecting the club negatively in terms of trophies and success.
Something else I see a lot of on social media is the notion that Liverpool don’t want players who are on big wages as they are “just after the money” or “don’t have the right mentality”. Let me ask you this; do you see Eden Hazard’s £200,000 a week wages affecting his football on the pitch? It is a completely nonsensical argument. Apply this to all of the players I have named above and I think you will come to the same conclusion. All top players in the world are on huge wages: Messi, Ronaldo, Suarez, Neymar Bale etc and this does not seem to be affecting their abilities as footballers. I am also not saying that having high wages makes you a great player such as Graziano Pelle and others in China. But it is quite clear to me that having top players and a great team will lead to success and to attract those players we need to be offering top wages and transfer fees. It is the unfortunate reality of modern football; we need to either adapt to it or continue on our path of mediocrity. Modern football will not adapt itself to accommodate Liverpool FC.
To conclude, I think it is an absolute nonsense that people say, “we don’t want to be like City, United or Chelsea”. These clubs are successful in terms of winning trophies and have world class players in their squads; neither of which can be applied to Liverpool. Who in their right mind as a Liverpool fan wouldn’t want that?! We have changed managers, players, backroom staff, CEO’s and much more in the last seven years. One thing that has stayed the same is the owners, FSG, and their current regime. For us to progress and be successful it seems there must be a drastic change either in this regime or with FSG themselves.
*Other major trophies: F.A. Cup, League Cup, Champions League and Europa League