Florentino Perez’s first presidential reign at Real Madrid saw the introduction of the Galacticos: Luis Figo, Ronaldo, David Beckham, and Zinedine Zidane joining the likes of Raul and Roberto Carlos, who were already at the Bernabeu.
The expectation was that a wave of trophies would follow the blockbuster arrivals of the biggest names in football. What actually came about was two La Liga trophies and one Champions League victory; hardly a suitable return for the many, many millions spent in further raising Real Madrid’s profile. It was in fact proof, that signings weren’t everything.
Is that the same outlook that should be used when looking at Liverpool? It would be easy to say forget Manchester City and their millions, forget Chelsea and the return of Jose Mourinho; the real eye-catcher is at Anfield and the manner in which Liverpool are going about their rebuilding process.
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Brendan Rodgers believes Liverpool aren’t far from the top four, provided of course they get all their first-choice targets this summer. And in all honesty he’s not the first to think so. Iago Aspas looks set to be announced shortly, while Schalke defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos has been linked as the club’s ‘marquee’ defensive signing.
It doesn’t need big money and glamour. Why couldn’t Liverpool’s new arrivals help to push them over the line and back into fourth? Is it because Aspas and Papadopoulos combined will go nowhere to equaling the fee Manchester City spent on Fernandinho? The former Shakhtar midfielder was hugely impressive during his time in the Ukraine, but who’s to say he’ll be a guaranteed better performer in England compared to Liverpool’s signings based purely on his market value?
But Liverpool are doing everything you’d expect and hope from them. They’ve found their niche in the market. It’s a model that has brought success elsewhere in Europe and there’s nothing preventing this approach from bringing success in England too. Maybe Arsenal are a nod to this. Sure, Wenger has bought some duds over the years, but his better signings have been enough to keep Arsenal in the top four. It’s evidence that £30million signings aren’t always a guarantee of success, however you wish to measure it.
And what is Rodgers supposed to say? How can he challenge this model that the club are trying to advocate? Isn’t he the first line to the media and shouldn’t he be the one to talk up the club’s prospects as a genuine threat for the top four? Some may want to look at Liverpool as a fallen giant, now holding a place well below their historical or traditional position in English football. But the march upwards has to start somewhere. Does football really need this club to recklessly spend millions in order to legitimise their ambitions? That did a whole lot of good for them in the past. Sure, it was horrendous scouting, decisions and everything else that culminated in that particular year. But the big spending and Hollywood signings are really about appeasing those who need to find that level of comfort or satisfaction in football. A big signing buys a club time. Liverpool, however, don’t have that luxury. There should be more praise for what they’re trying to do in the market.
The hurdle here is that all of this will take time. You don’t achieve your ambitions for May following what you’ve done in July and August. All of these potential signings Liverpool are making could go the way of the Galacticos – and no I don’t mean a league trophy and European Cup. It’s the point that it could all be extremely underwhelming to the point of near failure. It’s as much a gamble as Manchester City or Chelsea spending heavily.
If Liverpool fail to bring about Rodgers’ promise and hopes of top four, does that mean they should be ridiculed? Absolutely not. What makes them different from any other club who fail to reach their target? If it fails to become a reality by the end of next season, carry on and try again the following year.
What people want to see, however, is progress and a plan. Liverpool, at the moment, seem to have that, and providing everything does go accordingly, there’s no reason why they can’t finish in the top four.
Are Liverpool capable of breaking into the top four next season?
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