Author Topic: Baking in progress and preserving our values... what's the right club structure?  (Read 47375 times)

Online hesbighesred

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Fantastic article, great stuff Roy, thanks for that.

The bits about a unifed ideology jump right out, and appeal to me hugely. That's pretty fundamental I think. Plus the demands placed on our senior players are such that I don't see our youngsters losing out by being to 'specialised' as it were - there's no doubt in my mind that the players who've managed to train with the first team and thus have Rafa's imput seem to have more chance of a decent career than the equivalents under Houllier. Hard to imagine Hobbs, say, not reaching Premiership level eventually, and would Warnock be on the fringes of the England side now if Houllier had stayed in charge for another couple of years?

The bit about Real Madrid is very telling as well. I don't know quite why, because to be fair I don't know a whole lot about their youth systems, but as soon as I read that my mind kind of went 'bing, Manchester United'. They seem to produce a lot of decent individuals, and it's great for their squad, but  don't get the sense it's particularly integrated. Take Macheda and Welbeck for example - useful strikers no doubt but not ones I look at and see an obvious future for given the way Utd currently play. A good factory for the premiership perhaps, but the players you can see a clear future role for seem to be the exception rather than the rule, and tellingly they seem more often to be the bought in ones - EG the twins look certainties but the likes of Gibson, Welbeck look like they've been developed within a 4-4-2 framework - contrast that to Pacheco, Nemeth, Bruna et al in the reserves - make it or not it's clear to see how they could fit in, and how they were bought with the existing system(s) in mind - even Brouwer made complete sense in that respect, just to get the more promising lads used to that type of team shape.

Here's hoping that in a few years we'll be talking about Segura, McParland and McMahon as being right up there with Torres in terms of 'great Rafa signings'.

Also nice to have the Hamberg mystery somewhat cleared up - I had (well, prior to last season) always thought Rafa approved but obviously not.

royhendo

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Today's announcement looks positive on this front doesn't it?


Online John C

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I'm surprised to learn that 'business plans' became a priority after his first 3-years. During the H&G era the business was a shambles, nonetheless, whatever these plans were, they mustn't have represented how Rafa wanted to formulate a squad because we all know he liked to plan early when thinking about acquiring players.
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royhendo

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You'd almost think he had a blueprint in mind. ;)


royhendo

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Is it worth this getting a move into another forum if folk are hell bent on discussing it these days?

Online John C

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Did I miss something?
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Online Zeb

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Interesting revisiting this thread in light of recent discussions. The dark recesses of the forum as it were.
"And the voices of the standing Kop still whispering in the wind will salute the wee Scots redman and he will still walk on.
And your money will have bought you nothing."

Online Zeb

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Sooooo... it's quiet in here and there's room to stretch legs and wonder without being distracted by the sound of metal grinding against whetstone.

Five juju men dreaming dreams and working magic in the darkness? A board for football, a board for business? Where's the crossover? Administrator as chief of staff, stable focal point who moves between both rooms? Whispers that the darkness suits Parry - tired of circus spotlight, but persistent rumours he's been around FSG since they were an appointment in the calendar of a sports consultancy business. True, untrue? Who else on there? What do they add? Let's make a butterfly collection and see what's what and where. Where does the manager park his bottom on meeting days? Is he below or to the side? Horse by committee without him being sat at the table? Or is the intention to insulate and preserve out of the spotlight, away from the whims of the support and even the manager? How does that fit in with what Rodgers thought he'd signed up to? Dischord entering September, patched up, but 'out of my hands'? Drums from deep in the jungle beating odd signals - irony if manager is damned as idealist whilst pragmatism stymied from above. Are the two men in the photograph with the player actually the two least involved with the decision to sign him?

Not to damn out of hand but to understand. It is not always murder to dissect.

The jujumen (borrowing from No666):

Edwards: Chief statto here, formerly of similar role at Spurs and before that Portsmouth. Nothing about him on offal.
Fallows. First team scouting and recruitment co-ordinator type role
McParland as academy manager?
Iqbal: Head of medicine.
The mystery negotiator - Ayre?

Assumption (?) was that Rodgers made 6 and chaired the meeting. Their advice, his decision. Hints that this may not be the case, good people say he was on verge of walking in August and that Dempsey is just one of several. Idealised Lyon model? Back to Kuper we go... anything more recent that that btw? Would love to know more about how Lacombe fits into it all as 'special advisor' to the owner cum technical director, seems like he operates as almost a de facto head boy (eg public face to the club on transfers and controversies).

As far as this thread is concerned, is it a clear split between the club as a business and the club as a football entity? PBR no longer present though to marry the two sides up (imagine the stink if Rodgers was asked to sell a player to pay for repair work!). Bob also added to links under Kenny - trophyless season and the board were rock solid behind 'transition'; loyalty of footballing side with Moran, Evans and Saunders was part of their DNA. Boardroom has also changed. Owners in Boston so Ayre with day-to-day management responsibilities for the business. It's not really a 'boardroom' as we'd known it is it? Voices from Wigan complaining about no-one being there to pass the sherry. Hard to make friends and influence people from that distance - Werner's visit to London to put against that, albeit for much grovelling over Dempsey to the phoney pharoah. Old criticism from the Tonys. Still true?
« Last Edit: December 30, 2012, 01:56:31 AM by Zeb »
"And the voices of the standing Kop still whispering in the wind will salute the wee Scots redman and he will still walk on.
And your money will have bought you nothing."

royhendo

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We don't have much by way of clear evidence in this do we? But the murmurs from the Telegraph hint that Rodgers wasn't happy with the business done in Summer in all cases, so he'd have a strong-ish bargaining position. It's one to watch, but quite honestly I'm happy with a heated debate as long as its full, frank and structured - that's exactly what we've lacked ahead of key opportunities in the past - people haven't been on the same page. Plus there's always the risk that Brendan Rodgers gets hit by a bus - at least the club has a long-term trajectory it can sustain. I like the idea, I have to say.

Online Zeb

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In terms of how it fits together, assuming right people, it's what's been said in different ways on this thread isn't it? If you can have that debate and discussion, and then shake hands to have it next time round without any hurt feelings, then it's utopia. (I now say that word in my head in Hodgson's voice - TAW has a lot to answer for). Ok, not quite utopia, but it definitely provides the benefits you highlight without imposing a 'DoF' type figure over the manager. That we've chosen to go down the route we have with what football defines us as a club is something which really pleases me. I'm not all loved up on FSG, but if we can keep that going as a club then we've a chance and they were smart enough to use/fall into what was there rather than trying to go a different path.

Where it pinches a bit is in the 'lead' role. That's crucial. Collegiate is great, but if the footballing men disagree then ultimately it's got to have a decision which the manager can live with, but equally there has to be oversight. So I can understand Rodgers not getting it, and I can also see why a manager would be concerned about who that person would be given how much leverage it has over the manager's position. Key role really in fitting things together and facilitating discussion and holding the ring generally. You'd think the natural person would be the CEO, someone who's an experienced football administrator who knows what the price of something in the market should be or at least has the gumption to find out. But Lyon made it work with someone initially outside of the internal power structure of the club and directly responsible to the owner. Rafathegaffer's post on the main forum thread was really interesting in terms of trying to explain where Lyon, and other clubs, ultimately came unstuck.

The real board remains something of a mystery to me still. Nash gone in February I know, and keep reading Hogan is part-time?
"And the voices of the standing Kop still whispering in the wind will salute the wee Scots redman and he will still walk on.
And your money will have bought you nothing."

Offline Al 555

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One of the things that worries me is the notion that there is some miracle system that answers all your prayers. For me there isn't, you can get a temporary jump on your opponents with Arsenal's plundering of Europe's young talent a decade ago, the Lyon model or moneyball in Baseball. The problem is that your opponents analyse what makes you successful and quickly renders any advantage meaningless, especially if you brag about it.

Personally I think that it is bright Football people that keep you competitive, that keep you evolving and keep you ahead of the pack. The difference for me is probably best defined by Ferguson's ability to keep evolving and to keep up with and ahead of the opposition in comparison to Wengers one hit wonder of exploiting the European market for young talent.

For me good people make a good flexible system whereas a rigidly imposed system may work in the short term but is likely to come unstuck. A couple of good examples are the Red Sox's short lived success with Henry's version of moneyball and Henry's financial career http://www.attaincapital.com/alternative-investment-education/managed-futures-newsletter/investment-research-analysis/496.
One thing does need to be said: in the post-Benitez era, there was media-led clamour (but also some politicking going on at the club) to make the club more English; the idea being that the club had lost the very essence of what it means to be ‘Liverpool’. Guillem Ballague 18/11/10

Online Zeb

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Problem you've got there is that whichever approach is taken isn't necessarily a result of any specific structure. Wenger's approach to player signings isn't something which comes from the structure in place; how could it be when it's so dependant on the man placed on the pedestal who could choose to have a transfer policy of only buying players aged 36 and over with a tattoo of Jemima Puddleduck on their left buttock if he wanted? Know what I mean? The structure enables Wenger to pursue his policy, but it isn't the cause of the policy. It's not the 'moneyball' approach, but how decisions are taken and made. Lyon played a very pragmatic counterattacking style of football (Ged was manager there), we're trying to build something radically different now - but the structure which allows for decisions to be made may be very similar. So I think you have to make a distinction there given the context of this thread.

Don't think anyone's argued for a 'miracle system' in this thread. It's mainly about how to have a more robust structure at the club which avoids or mitigates the results of periods of dysfunction and the importance of right people being in place, something you mention, has consistently been highlighted. Definitely agree with you on that and also over flexibility being required to fit the people involved.
« Last Edit: January 6, 2013, 05:10:45 AM by Zeb »
"And the voices of the standing Kop still whispering in the wind will salute the wee Scots redman and he will still walk on.
And your money will have bought you nothing."

Offline Al 555

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Problem you've got there is that whichever approach is taken isn't necessarily a result of any specific structure. Wenger's approach to player signings isn't something which comes from the structure in place; how could it be when it's so dependant on the man placed on the pedestal who could choose to have a transfer policy of only buying players aged 36 and over with a tattoo of Jemima Puddleduck on their left buttock if he wanted? Know what I mean? The structure enables Wenger to pursue his policy, but it isn't the cause of the policy. It's not the 'moneyball' approach, but how decisions are taken and made. Lyon played a very pragmatic counterattacking style of football (Ged was manager there), we're trying to build something radically different now - but the structure which allows for decisions to be made may be very similar. So I think you have to make a distinction there given the context of this thread.

Don't think anyone's argued for a 'miracle system' in this thread. It's mainly about how to have a more robust structure at the club which avoids or mitigates the results of periods of dysfunction and the importance of right people being in place, something you mention, has consistently been highlighted. Definitely agree with you on that and also over flexibility being required to fit the people involved.

The concerns are more about the man who will ultimately be responsible for putting the structure in place JWH. It is easy to see something is not working and make wholesale changes otherwise known as the Mourinho three subs at half time reaction. It is much harder to be able to analyse the situation and work out why the system is failing and make the necessary tweaks. If you look at Henry's entire methodology it is around rolling the dice analysing whether it's working or not and then starting again if it's not.

At the Marlins when it wasn't working he knew something was wrong but didn't know why so he sacked people, at the Red Sox initially it worked and he left well alone and then when it failed he started sacking everyone. The same thing has happened here. A good example is Dalglish instead of looking at why we went to from a consistent top 4-5 side for 13 months to relegation fodder overnight he just sacked people.

At the Marlins he thought it was going wrong because the man charged with recruitment brought in athletes instead of ball players, the season after Henry left the marlins won the World series. At the Red Sox he thought it was the system and not people like Tito and Epstein that mattered and at Liverpool he didn't know what was wrong so he started again.

It is not just his sporting interests from the piece I quoted above,

JWH generally has not changed the fundamental elements of the portfolios due to short-term performance, although adjustments may be, and have been, made over time. In addition, JWH has not changed the basic methodologies that identify signals in the markets for each program. JWH believes that its long-term track record has benefited substantially from its adherence to its models during and after periods of negative returns; however, adherence to its strategy may lead to prolonged periods of market losses and high risk, according to its current disclosure document.


He isn't a tweaker, he doesn't believe in being pro-active, he believes in following trends. For me that indicates someone who doesn't understand the reasons why but someone who understands how to analyse results.

Another excerpt.

Live and Die by the Volatility

Most of those in the industry will tell you John W. Henry was simply too volatile for modern tastes, and you can see when taking a look at his programs’ track records some big numbers on both sides. Take the financials & metals 36% annualized volatility for example, or the multiple years with above 40% gains or more than -17% losses, and you can see that Henry’s model was one of high risk for high return.

But it’s more than just the fact that the JWH programs were volatile – what stands out is how much more volatile they were than “normal” and the fact that they were getting more volatile compared to the competition.

John Henry Composite Volatility Comparison

The above look at the ratio between the JWH composite’s rolling 12mo annualized volatility and that of the BarclayHedge CTA Index shows that the JWH programs were about 2.25 times more volatile, on average, than the index during their boom times (the first 20 years), and had jumped to 3.49 times more volatile, on average, in the past 8 years.

Again, this is something more easily seen with hindsight, but this is easy enough to analyze in real time. It’s especially concerning how volatile a program is not just in absolute terms, but in relation to its benchmark as well. And if it’s 5 times more volatile – as JWH was a few times in 2008 – you had better be sure you are getting 5 times more the return as well.



To cut to the chase Henry and his firm are now far too risky to invest in, too volatile and too high risk for me because he doesn't tweak he throws everything into one method and if it doesn't work he picks another. His firm has gone from investing 3bn of investors money to shutting up shop because investors have lost faith.

The big question for me is will Henry tweak the system at Liverpool if it doesn't enjoy immediate success or will we have another sackfest and start again moment. Do we need a buffer zone between FSG and the structure someone like a Dein or a Barwick an experienced Football man who will be able to tweak the structure to make it successful. Someone who can make well thought out football decisions if there is an impasse around the Football committee table. Someone of that stature would of been worth there weight in Gold during the summer transfer shambles. In short do we need a man with the Football acumen to identify why and how things are going wrong and put them right instead of having to start again time and time again.
One thing does need to be said: in the post-Benitez era, there was media-led clamour (but also some politicking going on at the club) to make the club more English; the idea being that the club had lost the very essence of what it means to be ‘Liverpool’. Guillem Ballague 18/11/10

Online Zeb

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Think there's a bit of a contrast there to be fair mate. You can't say he rips stuff up and never tweaks in relation to how he runs his investment portfolio whilst also quoting something which says he doesn't rip stuff up (the basic methodologies remain the same) and does tweak (adjustments have been made)... ;D But I take your point that a lot does boil down to the owner allowing things to run without hitting the reset button every few minutes but also being open enough to make changes when they're needed. And we'll judge those decisions ferociously with hindsight ;) Not that I know much about baseball, but it's interesting that he's commented that he believes that recent failure at the Red Sox has come from not continuing with what brought them success. Is there a parallel there with us, in trying something in spending heavily for the hoped for short term effect and then recoiling from it to return to a longer term vision?

You make a similar point to the one made in this thread about the need for a football administrator who can negotiate and tweak things to improve them as we go along whilst having direct access to the non-footballing board. It's that 'chief of staff' role in effect, although you can give it any number of different titles and it doesn't even have to be a formal position if you're speaking with the owners' authority. Is that Ayre at the moment? It's that side of things which are even more unclear than the 'technical board' which we seem to have established. Nash goes in February and then we're left effectively with just Ayre on the board based in Liverpool as far as I know? Personally believe you're making fair points in that part of things which others have made too though there is an aspect of not taking a half-formed idea for the fully formed one. If we view transfers as revealing a lot about how things are functioning, we've got what seems to be a decent price for Sturridge, especially considering the 'pay cut', and we seem to be just a little less of a pushover in how transfers are done whilst getting what seems to have been the main target for the window into the club as soon as the window opened. Using the summer to judge anything might be a little unfair in terms of how things are running now?
"And the voices of the standing Kop still whispering in the wind will salute the wee Scots redman and he will still walk on.
And your money will have bought you nothing."

Offline Al 555

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Think there's a bit of a contrast there to be fair mate. You can't say he rips stuff up and never tweaks in relation to how he runs his investment portfolio whilst also quoting something which says he doesn't rip stuff up (the basic methodologies remain the same) and does tweak (adjustments have been made)... ;D

Isn't that the difference between being pro-active and making projections about what is likely to happen and tweaking your investments accordingly and what Henry's methodology is which is to follow trends and react to the trends. The first is about making constant adjustments that reduce risk whilst reducing the pay off whilst the second is about seeing how things pan out and then making major changes.

Which goes back to my point about knowing why something is failing and tweaking it so it becomes successful rather than not knowing why something is failing and continually having to hit the reset button. The Red Sox point is a good one after the initial success the system needed tweaking because getting to the top and staying there require two slightly different strategies. When things went wrong at the Red Sox instead of understanding why they threw money at the problem. When that hasn't worked they have gone back to investing in youth. That is a series of revolution's instead of a constant evolution. The turnover of players and staff has been frightening but the basic methodology of using analysis has remained the same.

One thing does need to be said: in the post-Benitez era, there was media-led clamour (but also some politicking going on at the club) to make the club more English; the idea being that the club had lost the very essence of what it means to be ‘Liverpool’. Guillem Ballague 18/11/10

Online Zeb

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Nice find by s4ffy1. Answers the 'local connection' thing in part with Dale being the commercial side in Liverpool (he's former commercial director at Fulham before he joined FSG>FSM)

Transatlantic commercial duo Billy Hogan and Olly Dale explain how the club is reaching out to a global fanbase which is hungry for success but loyal to the cause.

http://www.sportspromedia.com/notes_and_insights/mersey_tide/
"And the voices of the standing Kop still whispering in the wind will salute the wee Scots redman and he will still walk on.
And your money will have bought you nothing."

Online Zeb

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Tor-Kristian Karlsen has been giving some opinions on club structure on the devil's teleprinter. Reminded me a lot of this thread and the discussions we were having some years ago.

Quote
Interesting to follow debate as to how/why certain PL clubs appeared more decisive and successful in the transfer market than others.

Though I generally favour DoF/HC model, I don't necessarily believe efficient recruitment is solely down to management structure. Having a DoF per se doesn't offer any guarantees, as with any other positions you depend on finding a competent and suitable profile. The way I see it, the issue of management structure (DoF/HC vs Manager) is a much wider and complex debate (for another day).

However, what I do believe is paramount at any club is a "figure" (high ranking capacity) whose responsibilities are exclusively dedicated to the international (& domestic) transfer market. Knowledge, competence and contacts more important than title. Essentially a figure that links the club's business/commercial competences (CEO/Board) with the sporting side (Manager/Chief Scout). A role which requires understanding of finances, budgets and structures while also "lobbying" for resources on behalf of Manager. The role entails permanently monitoring the transfer market, keeping contact with agents/middle men, preliminary negotiations and, crucially, preparing technical aspects of (complex) transfer cases for CEO/Board (who, honestly, have enough on their plates). Such an "expert coordinator" would be of great value/help to club executives as well as the Manager - without undermining any.

I've seen the such concepts working well in GER/ITA/FRA - now also seeing similar models starting to successfully emerge in the PL. Given the appointment of the right person/profile, this role "fixes" some of the main deficiencies of the "classic" Manager model. As for examples, I do find Brighton's concept of "Director of Football Operations" (David Burke) very interesting and forward thinking.

Essentially, the international transfer market has become so complex, wide and fast moving that a Manager or a CEO cannot be expected to keep up without the assistance of expert knowledge (and that "expert" doesn't necessarily need to be a DoF/Sporting Director).

Always fascinating to get insight like that from someone who has worked within the game and to compare it with what was being said on here those many years ago.
"And the voices of the standing Kop still whispering in the wind will salute the wee Scots redman and he will still walk on.
And your money will have bought you nothing."

Online Zeb

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Kenny to the board, Rob Jones, Macca and God (three players with a bit of business nouse jumps out to me) to the training ground to work alongside those with coaching skills (Mike Marsh). Eerily prescient some of the stuff on this thread. Good practice? A way to put in foundations to build upon long term? Grow our own and link business side to football? Bayern model? More recent example too - Ajax is waking up again under similar structure. Rinus would be pleased.

edit: wasn't aware of this when I wrote that. Interview with Cruyff in the Irish Examiner.

Quote
Cruyff is also hoping to shape one more achievement as his life in football comes full circle. In 2011, he was central to a plan seeking the complete restructure of Ajax by re-establishing many of its principles after almost two decades of losing their way. Just like at Bayern Munich, many ex-players have returned in key roles, with Frank De Boer head coach, Dennis Bergkamp assistant and even Edwin van der Sar marketing director.

"[Bayern’s] organisation was based on football up," Cruyff says. "That’s what we did now. We copied that. The well-educated ex-players should be the decision-makers within a football club. Not somebody who is a great businessman in whatever, and he makes the football decisions. This is absurd.

"A lot of clubs don’t do this. At Ajax, we did it. OK, the results are not there in one day but the result will come."

The ‘result’, however, is the really interesting question. Does he mean the club can defy current football economics to return to the glory of his time? "Yes, we are convinced. Everybody who’s there, and all the great players Ajax ever had, they are there now, so we think we can do it. The future will tell us."

The present, however, involves a lot of painful realities in which such mid-sized clubs are constantly reminded of their status and any of their better players will immediately seek to improve their own — such as Christian Eriksen going to Tottenham.

"That’s one of the problems, and that’s the problem with this year, that Eriksen went away. At a certain age, they will go because somebody will pay more, which is reality. But, as soon as you know reality, you can do something against it. Or start earlier. Or get them back when they are finished, but one of the most important things is to treat them well. We have these new players, good players but we need to educate them still. Who knows?"

Link
« Last Edit: October 5, 2013, 10:03:03 PM by Zeb »
"And the voices of the standing Kop still whispering in the wind will salute the wee Scots redman and he will still walk on.
And your money will have bought you nothing."

Online Zeb

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Tony Evans on the transfer committee Link. Highlights some of the tensions which are involved around this. Interesting to compare comments on Carroll deal with Rodgers' comments on owners January just gone. Not sure all tension is bad within this, though point about defenders wanted and attackers chased might be one which will niggle if manager doesn't agree with assessment of the defenders of right quality not available.

"And the voices of the standing Kop still whispering in the wind will salute the wee Scots redman and he will still walk on.
And your money will have bought you nothing."

royhendo

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It's the only wrinkle just now isn't it? I think the Committee's proven itself to be hit and miss though to date, and FSG know Rodgers is a banker for them by this point.

Online Zeb

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You'd think he's earned at least a little bit more elbow room at the table from this season, wouldn't you? It's all kind of abstract in some ways, but it'll be interesting to see how things evolve. One of the things I've really come to like about Rodgers is how he will embrace new things, so you can't see him throwing things away because of the odd dud. Against that, and it's quiet enough for a little heresy here, there's always going to be the politicking too isn't there? May reach a stage where we, as a club, need to double down on a set of blueprints Rodgers provides and allow him to define us for this coming period or give him the lead role, suitably advised and supervised and assisted? The longer he goes on like this, the harder it'll be to see the downside I guess.
"And the voices of the standing Kop still whispering in the wind will salute the wee Scots redman and he will still walk on.
And your money will have bought you nothing."

royhendo

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This is it mate. It was interesting to see Rory Smith write an article about how Liverpool fans are always cross. The flip side is that Tony Evans is still in a default 'drama' mode about things that might just be natural symptoms of growth. I think they've arrived at a reluctant trust of FSG though, which is interesting.

royhendo

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More discussion re the transfer committee on the Sunday Supplement, people are saying. Evidently Brendan Rodgers's had a word with a few of the journos. :)

It's all positive. Good to see Rodgers assert himself.

Online Zeb

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Haha, been thinking on what you said over past few days and have nearly posted a reply a few times but, as Tony Evans has been finding out again, even mild heresy is a serious offence. ;) No more than we really knew, though the jostling for a bit of elbow room ahead of the summer's dealings is clearly going on? The 'chief of staff' role is the one consistently identified as being one which would create something of a vacuum if it wasn't filled. Don't blame Rodgers for wanting some more of the say, but equally you can understand where FSG are coming from in wanting a longer term vision tied up with it which isn't dependant on the manager. Hopefully, they'll find a quiet resolution which Rodgers can work with without too many complaints. We're a manager's club, and I hope Rodgers is sensible enough to realise that he only needs a little powder when he wants to make a noise.
"And the voices of the standing Kop still whispering in the wind will salute the wee Scots redman and he will still walk on.
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Starting to be brought up again, but then a poor spell of form almost guarantees it I guess.

Kris Walsh in The Echo

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Restoring Liverpool to last season's heights may be gradual, but there is plenty in the here and now which can be improved – here is what Rodgers must do straight away to put them back on track.
Call the transfer committee

The club's transfer committee – its set-up, distribution of power and weight of accountability – has been subject to much speculation.

Here is what is known.

Rodgers sits on the committee along with managing director Ian Ayre, head of recruitment Dave Fallows and head of performance and analysis Michael Edwards. It was formed by Fenway Sports Group following Rodgers’ arrival two years ago after the owners shelved plans to appoint a director of football.

Rodgers must secure the agreement of the committee that a player meets the club’s requirements and is worth pursuing.

In May, the Reds boss said: “We are really preparing for next season. I’ve had some very good meetings with our recruitment team. We are very much together as one.”

If they are together, then surely they will be in agreement over the necessity to identify a new striker ahead of January, ready to sign as soon as the transfer window opens. Topping-up the fee paid for Divock Origi is not good enough; a proven, healthy goalscorer is required.

Likewise, the search for a goalkeeper must continue. Simon Mignolet with the ball at his feet has the same effect to the crowd as a firework display does to dogs. Names have been linked throughout the autumn, but work must be done to secure one before the Reds face Sunderland on January 10.

But they do not just have to simply be identified – they have to be right for the club, and ready to fit in straight away. Liverpool spent £120m last summer – albeit having lost Luis Suarez – and somehow chased their Champions League dream with Martin Skrtel up front.

Of those summer signings, only Dejan Lovren has played more than 1,000 league minutes. Lazar Markovic, Emre Can and Adam Lallana haven't managed 1,000 minutes combined. The new signings have certainly strengthened the squad, but have not helped to continue the momentum of last season.

Planning for January has no doubted started. But now, it must be intensified – and it must be better than the summer's efforts.

Echo


Chris Bascombe in The Telegraph

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Liverpool's problems? Delusions of grandeur, transfer duds and failure to fix clear flaws in the squad
Those who want Brendan Rodgers out are deluding themselves if they think it will change anything under the current set-up, writes Chris Bascombe




Liverpool shoved their way back into Europe’s VIP tent as if it was their entitlement last August. Last night they were sheepishly collecting their coat and being escorted from the premises, ending the most shambolic and embarrassing series of European Cup performances in the club’s history.

It was during the Champions League draw they prematurely reclaimed their status as European royalty, chief executive Ian Ayre’s crass suggestion ‘this is our competition’ succeeding only in making the Merseyside club sound like they’d wasted no time guzzling Uefa champagne.

Liverpool never look or sound more insecure than when they start telling everyone how marvellous they are; there is nothing more small-time in football than confirmation of your own sense of greatness.

“At Liverpool we do not talk, we just win,” was the mantra of the club’s universally respected ex-chairman, Sir John Smith - others, who viewed the club with awe, bequeathed the tributes while Liverpool silently and humbly did everything right.

Indeed, walk around Anfield or Melwood and there are quotes from luminaries such as Johan Cruyff decorating the wall. Most pre-date the last 20 years, of course, but Liverpool employees often think they absorb the eminence of others just by touching the hem of history.

Only when it suits them, mind.

There is plenty of encouragement to drop Liverpool’s name alongside the grandees of Europe such as Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich when discussing heritage, status, commercial potential and global support.

Judge what happened in these six group games in relation to those clubs, however, and there will be less inclination to embrace the comparison.

It is worth considering how board members at The Nou Camp, Bernabeu or Allianz Arena would be reacting this morning if their side had won a meagre five points from 18 from a Champions League group including the Swiss and Bulgarian champions.

Would Florentino Perez be privately briefing the Spanish media mouthpiece Marca that while it was deeply disappointing, it was important to retain a sense of perspective?

Would we be hearing Barcelona chief Josep Maria Bartomeu propose a persuasive argument that although his club spent £120 million on new players during the summer, it was inevitable they would need time to gel?

Would Franz Beckenbauer seek to console Bayern supporters by suggesting they need not worry about an injection of new blood in the January transfer window, because he retained the absolute faith that everyone was doing a marvellous job and it was such a shame one key player derailed everything by leaving in July?

In no particular order, here is the assorted list of official explanations for Liverpool’s turgid performances this season.

1. Luis Suarez left.

2. Daniel Sturridge is injured.

3. Liverpool did everything possible to sign Alexis Sanchez but he would not come.

4. There was no other striker available, so they had to buy Mario Balotelli.

5. No-one questioned the wisdom of signing the eight summer recruits at the time, every deal is risky, and there are not too many clubs in the Premier League who had a good summer in transfer market.

Whether you sympathise with these views or are appalled by a litany of excuses, what is most disturbing is the sense that as a club Liverpool do not believe they could have done much more; as if they have been undermined by a series of unfortunate events.

Aside from the fact there were plentiful warnings about the lack of a Suarez replacement, the notion all eight deals should have been questioned by fans (or journalists) who were otherwise engaged watching the Premier League last season is preposterous (and irrelevant).

The accountability for failing to fix the flaws in the squad that were evident for two years lies solely with those paid handsomely to remedy it – and at the risk of repetition that is not a one man job.

It would be reassuring to think there will be a sense of fury in the post-match debrief in the Anfield bunker that will strip the walls, but the impression given is those responsible are telling themselves circumstances made it unavoidable. If that is the case, it is even more disconcerting for Liverpool fans than the sight of Martin Skrtel employed as an emergency centre-forward – surely the most damning indictment of the wretched recruitment of the club.

Liverpool went into the game with Basel with a goalkeeper who doesn't know whether to kick the ball or exorcise it; centre-halves who you expect to be bullied by AFC Wimbledon next month; midfielders whose goals and assist record must be evident to the statistical wizards who are so revered by John W. Henry; and a 32-year-old striker who ran out of gas 72 hours before kick-off.

Liverpool appear to have lost the memo that makes it clear football is about players. You can offer countless speeches about strategy and appoint a manager with a philosophy that would make Plato blush, but if you buy pap you end up with last night.

That is why those who want Brendan Rodgers out as a result of Liverpool’s performances this season are deluding themselves if they think it will change anything under the current set-up.

Fenway Sports Group would interview another series of idealistic managers delivered fresh from the Uefa pro-licence course, each one no doubt adept at arranging training sessions and communicating his ideas. He’d still be at the mercy of the quality of Liverpool’s recruitment.

The Anfield transfer committee – or more specifically how they operate - is a familiar gripe on these pages and it is not used to absolve Rodgers, merely to point out he is partially rather than wholly responsible.

You have to look beyond him because it is a matter of public record he is one of many architects of this squad and not the traditional project manager. For what it is worth I firmly agree with the idea of a consensual approach to transfers in the same way I would endorse the principle of cabinet government. Rather like the current occupants of Downing Street, however, I also believe their appalling track record and failure to impose a successful policy means they should not have safe seats.

The Anfield committee was formed with good intentions; too many Liverpool deals since the 90s were filtered through the same agents; players often seemed to be preferred because of who they were represented by rather than whether they were good enough; managers assumed far too much power, made too many mistakes and spent too much time moaning about lack of resources when they’d been given plenty.

Rather than add checks and balances, however, Liverpool’s new approach has made what was already a miserable transfer track record since their last title even worse. Liverpool’s squad is not good enough and no amount of spin; no amount of dossiers detailing why those signed were the correct choices at the time; and no amount of blind faith mediocre players will come good with the right coaching will repair the damage of those chastening Champions League performances. In 540 minutes, Liverpool only looked like they might stay in the competition during the last 10.

FSG know what Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich would do in these circumstances and the question is whether they are prepared to confront that reality or are deferring to those they have trusted to make the last 16 signings of which only two (possibly now reduced to one) have increased their value.

The grandees of Europe would hold those at fault accountable for a humiliating and demeaning failure.

When the effect of spending £120 million is the creation of a team so painful to watch every seat in Anfield's new Main Stand may need to be equipped with a sofa to hide behind, it is not tolerated. Not at big clubs. Not for those who expect permanent residency in the VIP tent.

Telegraph

I guess the question for me is whether one can make the comparisons to Bayern Munich et al. currently? How long does a sustainable structure take to bed down and start providing results commensurate with investment? Expectations meeting the reality of our current position? One looks to the players we have targetted, but were unable to bring in, and I'm not yet at the point where I'd start thinking something was fundmentally flawed.
"And the voices of the standing Kop still whispering in the wind will salute the wee Scots redman and he will still walk on.
And your money will have bought you nothing."