Liverpool owner John W Henry commented on twitter about the club’s transfer strategy:
“Speculation on players shouldn’t include those of a certain age. We are not going to be successful by merely filling short-term needs at LFC. Everything in sports is overpriced now – especially the cost of winning. But you make your choices based on a plan. Some things happen early and some late. The important thing is that things happen. Sometimes what you avoid is important.”
Comments about the club not buying players of a “certain age” is unsurprising, considering it was apparent from very early on that FSG subscribed to the “Moneyball” approach. The appointment of Damien Comolli very shortly after the takeover of the club was all but confirmation of this strategy.
This rumoured strategy was further reinforced by the signing of 20 year old Jordan Henderson and the genuine interest in 19 year old Phil Jones and 18 year old Connor Wickham. Questions remain however over how effective the approach will be.
As Henry mentions in his twitter messages, everything in football and in sports in general are “overpriced now,” and he no doubt was referring to some of the transfers fees being paid by Liverpool as well as other clubs. What Moneyball effectively boils down though in its most basic conception is the aim to get “value for money.” Younger players maybe overpriced but their value in the future will only go up while those in the latter stages of their careers will only depreciate in value. It makes financial sense to invest in younger players.
The fundamental belief then is that in the long term the strategy can only be to the Reds advantage. The concern from my point of view, and other fans have voiced their concern too, is that it could harm the Reds in the short to medium term. If you look at the players the Reds are interested in they are all 25/26 or under, which can generally be assumed as Henry’s age limit. Charlie Adam (25), Stewart Downing (26), Gael Clichy (25) and Scott Dann (24) are all said to be the Reds targets while the likes of Raul Meireles (28) is apparently surplus to requirements.
The big worry for many is that these considerations of value and age may take precedence over the ability of players and the mix which makes up a good team. Kenny Dalglish will surely be the driving force in getting the players he wants and although the Reds may have a younger looking team next season with Henderson (21), Carroll (23) and other youngsters around, let’s hope it has minimal effects on how the team performs.
As Ian Ayre said today, the owners don’t only want to win once, but over a consistent period. The choices being made are “based on a plan” and hopefully they will bear fruit not only next season but for many seasons after that.
Read more of David’s articles at Live4Liverpool