If you follow me on Twitter (I'm sorry, I don't mean to plug it at every opportunity, it's just a medium I've increasingly used), you know I'm prone to infrequently reference indie rock music. Even if it seems to alienate people. Well, I've had The Hold Steady's song "Constructive Summer" in my head for some time now. The relevant line from the chorus, and the impetus for the title of this post, is "We're gonna build something this summer..."
By now, I'm sure you've seen Tom Hicks' quote from last January, most likely said to deflect attention from his son telling a supporter to "blow me, fuck face." It's how I planned on leading this post, but multiple websites beat me to the punch. Nevertheless, just in case, here it is again.
"January is a poor quality market. The summer window will be big."
Well, it's September 1. And the summer that was supposed to be "big" in terms of transfers has been anything but, at least in regards to incoming ones. As if that's any surprise.
In: Milan Jovanovic (free), Joe Cole (free), Jonjo Shelvey (£1.7m), Danny Wilson (£2m), Christian Poulsen (£4.5m), Brad Jones (£2.3m), Raul Meireles (£11.5m), Paul Konchesky (£3.5m + player exchange) = ~£25m
Out: Yossi Benayoun (£6m), Mikel San Jose (£2.6m), Albert Riera (£3.3m), Diego Cavalieri (£3m), Krisztian Nemeth (£1m), Javier Mascherano (£19.9m), Damien Plessis (undisclosed), Lauri Dalla Valle (player exchange), Alex Kacaniklic (player exchange), Alberto Aquilani (loan), Emiliano Insua (loan), Philipp Degen (loan), Nabil El Zhar (loan) = ~£37m
Fees, where available, are taken from the excellent LFC History – expect in the case of Mascherano. The BBC originally announced it as £17.25m, which is what the site has, but Barcelona's Director of Football announced the fee as €24m, approximately £19.9m. The Plessis transfer, completed after the English window closed, is listed as undisclosed, waiting for confirmation from Panathinaikos or "confirmation" from the media. We'll call it around £1m for now. I'm surprised that LFC History has the Konchesky deal as £3.5m plus the two youngsters; I've seen lower figures or simply player swaps rumored, but theirs are the numbers I'm using. And then there are the inevitable signing-on fees that free transfers often receive, which could be countered by the fact clubs often pay a loan fee, although I haven't seen that confirmed for any of Liverpool's deals this summer. So these figures are rough estimates, as per usual, but it gives us an approximation to work with. Clearly, I wish there was more transparency in the dealings, but I wish there was more transparency in a lot of things. It's in Liverpool's best interest, especially these days, to be as obtuse as possible. And since it probably reflects the club's current financial trapeze act, we can probably add another £8m to the "transfer" expenditures because of Benitez's £6m golden handshake and the £2m needed to pry Hodgson from Fulham.
Regardless, it's the fourth consecutive window where Liverpool's reaped a profit, and with eight players brought in while 13 left, a shallow squad's gotten even shallower. It's yet another symptom of Hicks and Gillett's malignant, debilitating reign.
Rushian, from RAWK, updated his post on homegrown players and Liverpool's 25-man squad, to be named later today – a clearer and more concise version of what I attempted to explain two weeks ago. And after this summer's wheelings and dealings, Liverpool won't be naming 25 to their squad. More research is needed, but I'd imagine there are few Premiership sides with that few senior players. I understand that some of the under-21 players will have a role to play this season – specifically Ngog, Pacheco, and Kelly – but it's still skating on very thin ice. If injuries strike anywhere near as badly as they did last season, Liverpool could be left stranded smack in the middle of shit creek.
After talking up the necessity of another striker, Hodgson's left empty-handed, reliant on Torres, Ngog, Babel, and potentially Kuyt, evidently waiting until the Mascherano money came through to find a warm body to fill an oft-discussed hole. But that never came to fruition (thankfully, if Carlton Cole – a more-experienced, more injury-prone, and much more expensive, version of Ngog – was the main target), which prompted outrage from all corners of the internet. Outrage is much-needed right now.
It's all further proof that no matter how much we wish differently, what occurs on the pitch is sadly a secondary concern. I'm sorry to continue beating that drum until the skin tears, but I don't see any other option.
Look, that Torres and Gerrard are still are the club is probably the best news we could have hoped for from this window. Meireles is a promising signing, as is Joe Cole (although from what little we've seen so far, I'd be happier if he weren't nailed-on to play behind the striker). Jovanovic is a versatile attacker, Shelvey and Wilson are clearly two for the future (and I'm desperate for signings not focused on the short-term). Both Poulsen and Konchesky can "do a job"; I've talked myself into Konchesky ideally being another Finnan mainly as a counter-reaction to "HE'S SHIT, I CAN'T BELIEVE IT" echoing around every forum. That I'd rather have Insua isn't Paul's fault, and Liverpool had been linked to loads worse.
But to pretend I'm not disappointed with the course of events over the past month would be disingenuous. Yet that's nothing new either. Make no mistake, Hodgson bears the blame for next to none of this. The enemies are Hicks and Gillett, and their self-styled director of football, Christian Purslow. I don't include Martin Broughton in that trio to complete a Four Horseman of the Apocalypse analogy in case he finally succeeds in finding new custodians. We were all disappointed when Kenny Huang publicly cooed then bailed, but it's worth noting that he's done similar in the past with the Cleveland Cavaliers. All quiet on the western front isn't necessarily a bad thing – I won't pretend I'm a natural optimist, but just because it's not being played out in the press doesn't mean nothing's happening behind the scenes. The crucial date seems to be early October, when RBS can call in Hicks and Gillett's mounting loans. The pace should pick up as that nears, and let's all join hands and pray no other bank will refinance for those snake-oil scoundrels.
I'm sick of suggesting diminished expectations and sounding pessimistic in every post, you're sick of reading it, but Cassandra's warnings seem prophetic once again. If Liverpool's still in this situation come January, or God forbid, a year's time... well, if you thought this summer was bad in regards to player exit rumors, you won't enjoy the next.
To come full circle with my marginally esoteric music references, the lead single and title track from the aforementioned Hold Steady album was "Stay Positive." And yes, "We gotta stay positive," especially when it comes to supporting the players on the pitch. But we also gotta stay realistic. And angry.