The final two days of the January transfer portal.
Ah, the excitement. A horse race mentality and the media calls it as such.
This dude goes that way; that winger goes this way and everyone’s rumored on their way to Turkey. Only Jozy Altidore actually went there. Down the stretch they come!
And Monday morning, led off with a Chris Farley-sized cannonball right off the diving deck.
Andy Carroll, Anfield bound. $£35M floated down the Tyneside to Newcastle.
….and the incredulous cries began.
Former US striker and ESPN commentator Taylor Twellman called it a joke of a signing.
Grant Wahl…”Are English players really this overvalued?”
However, take a step back and look at where Liverpool was just a few months ago, steaming towards mediocrity and bankruptcy. Agony for fans of a proud club that was Champion’s League victors less than a decade ago.
It’s hard to reclaim your mojo once the bankers come calling. Just ask Leeds United. It’s even harder to reclaim that mojo when both the bankers come and the players want to go.
That’s the predicament that Liverpool was left in just a few months ago.
January, though, sees the hallowed club with a solid Luis Suarez purchase and the headline-grabbing Andy Carroll procurement.
Not bad for a franchise just surmounting the distracting change of ownership debacle and a parlaying a coach who was outside of his depth–a helmsman who employed a “be afraid to be out of position” mindset and whose record away from home was atrocious.
That’s not even half the story.
That coach had replaced another manager who straight-up claimed that management wasn’t supporting him. (Don’t worry that same manager just got jettisoned with the same claims at Inter Milan).
Their current manager? A living club legend, but he hasn’t managed in more than ten years. You could probably say he hasn’t physically built up a lot of player relationships.
Over the past two years, the team has seen key and popular midfielders from Spain and Argentina with messy departures and just today another Spaniard bound for London. Not a stretch to say high-class Spaniards are probably not keen on wearing the red of Liverpool.
Their talisman, age 30 years…old, and consistently battling injuries. He’s surely crested the best years of his career.
Their best defender, if you will, is 33-year-old and now has the speed of a steamroller…stuck in neutral. He’s also been out…for awhile.
The team’s number one signing last year was terrific…but only against one team, Burnley. He’s now back in Serie A.
Let me pause and ask a question here: “Is this a team that most players are jumping to join?”
No, probably not. Minus Torres and with a slowly withering Gerrard, is Dani Pacheco really the great hope for the future? (I know some of you just Googled that name)
And that’s exactly where Liverpool found itself Sunday, emerging from the doldrums of the Hicks and Gillette controversial (but supportive) ownership off the field and from the Roy Hodgson-Rafa Benitez reigns on the field….with their top forward asset, Fernando Torres, apparently demanding a transfer.
With your one international star begging to leave, who does he pass the torch too? How do you make a statement? How do you let players know that you’re keen on competing for the Champion’s League, for greatness?
You splash, big. And suddenly that exhilarating second stanza in Istanbul doesn’t seem so long ago.
Hot on the heals of the gritty Suarez from Ajax, follows controversial, but indisputably talented Northern Rocker Andy Carroll.
Necessary as well if you have to sell your main prize that plays the number nine role.
With every team in Europe knowing ‘Pool’s plight and ready to set a premium for its players, it’s not exactly the easiest proposition to acquire talent.
Just look at Manchester United. Unwilling to be pilfered on a deals for Karim Benzema or David Villa over the past 18 months. Willing to let the industrious Carlos Tevez put up billboards at their arch rival.
The Red Devils did still bow to England icon Wayne Rooney’s demands just a few short months ago.
To what depths did United have to go over the past few years coming from a perceived position of strength and reputation as a top club, a top spending club?
They plopped down $£30.75M for Dimitar Berbatov in 2008 and this past summer they went cloak-and-dagger to sneak Chicharito into the country.
And Sir Alex’s crew is one that never stumbles from the top and players pine to play for.
Liverpool with a Fernando Torres transfer coming to a head Tuesday made a risky, but calculated move.
They brought in a 22-year-old homegrown striker whose current campaign goal tally is 3rd best in the league. His work done on a middle of the road club…and after rippling the nets 17 times in the Championship last season.
Right behind him on the Barclay’s goal tracker is Kevin Nolan. The same Kevin Nolan who never had more than 12 goals in a campaign.
That is until he partnered with Carroll. Nolan’s totals the past two years with Carroll as his accomplice? 18 in the Championship last year, 10 already this year.
Quite an impact for a youngster who also tucks nicely into the roster as a homegrown player and in all probability will make a name with the Three Lions as well.
By comparison, here are some other recent striker transfers of note in the Barclays.
Asamoah Gyan (August 2010)? $£13M to Sunderland. The Ghanaian international has never scored more than 13 in a season and is 3 years older. One could argue that he doesn’t make those around him better as well.
Eden Dzeko (Dec. 2010)? $£27M to Manchester City. Two years older and not English/homegrown.
Dimitar Berbatov (Sept. 2008)? Twenty-seven at the time of his $£30.75M transfer to Manchester United. He’s, of course, Bulgarian and of course gives Nicolas Anelka a run for the money with his pitch demeanor.
Darren Bent (Jan. 2011)? $£24M to become a Villian. The Jeff Cunningham perhaps of the EPL is already 26 and has appeared to where out his welcome at multiple locations. Debatable whether Bent makes players around him better, not debatable that he misses critical sitters.
With Torres wanting away….with the front office wanting to avoid Summer 2011′s premium pricing….with new ownership announcing it’s ready to compete for a championship….with tumultuous management, player and manager turnover still very visible in the rear view mirror…and with Tottenham apparently smitten with the same striker it just bought, Liverpool made a statement to its fans (& season ticket holders) and its players (you should want to player here, were serious).
Well-played. Not crazy as long as Carroll stays out of the nightclubs.
• Jozy Altidore on a season loan to Bursapor. Good.
If Villarreal is willing to see him away when their thin at striker than Altidore needs to be favored somewhere else. He’ll get playing time in a competitive atmosphere, a good strike partner in Kenny Miller to work off of, and passionate crowd pace to harden his demeanor
• Eddie Johnson to Preston North End
Sounds about right.
Eidur Gudjohnsen, 32-years-old and well removed from his Chelsea glory days, heads to London’s little club that could to replace EJ.
• Gio Dos Santos, Racing Santander-bound
The David Suazo-Houston Dynamo DP odds just dropped from 3 to 1 to even money.
• Fernando Torres to, er, Chelsea
Be very, very worried Nicolas Anelka.
The third biggest transfer ever buys Chelsea a striker who refuses to drop deep and disrupt the midfield. That in itself should make a difference.
• Daniel Sturridge goes to the Reebok
Bolton is tumbling down the table; Sturridge is not the answer. Completely unimpressed with Sturridge thus far. Dont like it. You?
• Paul Konchesky to Championship side Nottingham Forest on loan.
Ouch Roy Hodgson, very ouch.
• El-Hadji Diouf to Rangers from Rovers
Anyone think this is going to end well? Anyone think it’s going to start well?