Which Liverpool did an excellent job of promoting, as has become par for the course. While everyone's waiting for Borini news, Liverpool's Head of Content tweets this:
Transfer news at 6pm on lfc.tv— Paul Rogers (@PaulRogersLFC) July 13, 2012
Everyone clicks, everyone goes to the website, everyone freaks out in anticipation. Nope, not Borini, not Dempsey, or not any of the other multiple names perpetually linked. Maxi's exit. At least we know where Liverpoolfc.com's priorities lie. Website hits.
It's not that Maxi – or Kuyt, as I wrote about five weeks ago, prompting many of the same squad depth fears – is irreplaceable. As many, many have already said, Maxi was criminally underused, with Liverpool's joint-best shot conversation rate and best league goals-per-minute rate last season. But both he and Kuyt are over thirty, had increasingly smaller roles last season, and were on comparably high wages considering each's relative value. This always seemed likely, as much as Maxi will be missed both on and off the field.
It's not even that Liverpool haven't signed anyone yet, despite the squad leaving for its US tour next week, despite the Europa League qualifiers beginning in just under three weeks, despite Liverpool having signed at least one player by this point in every summer transfer window over the last decade. And don't even start that Aquilani and Cole are like new signings because, come on. Let's be serious here. The lack of incoming players are obviously a concern, but it's an explainable one: Rodgers is still getting a handle on the squad, the Euros dampened business across the market, etc. Borini almost assuredly will be announced soon [Update (2:30pm): That didn't take long.], if not later today. And others will follow.
Still, as @AvoidingTheDrop cleverly quipped:
Number of additions made to Liverpool squad to replace three depth players: 0. Number of new social media initiatives by LFC this summer: 3.— Avoiding the Drop (@avoidingthedrop) July 13, 2012
The perception is that LFC (read: FSG) care far more about commercial deals and the wage bill than the actual football. Granted, at this point, it's still perception, arguably reactionary perception, but the prevailing perception nonetheless. And with the season soon to start, frightfully close to becoming reality.
Of course, we were warned. A guest post from friend-of-the-blog Mike Anton said as much 21 months ago. The relevant section:
Boy, Do They Like Making Money: Their home field, Fenway Park, was first built in 1912, which they still use. It's an ugly matchbox of a stadium that people now consider "quaint" because they're too nice to use "horribly outdated." Most ownership groups who wanted to purchase the Sox in '03 were going to tear it down and build a new stadium. But not these guys! They believed that the park was the franchise, so they decided to keep the old barn because they couldn't envision a franchise without it. [Editor's Note: Please ignore the use of the word "franchise." A can of worms better left closed.]
Then they whored that thing out as hard as they possibly could.
The place only holds roughly 35,000, while most comparable stadiums fit 55,0000, so seats were placed everywhere. On top of the Green Monster, the space-saving giant wall that is meant to simulate a wall 380 feet away, there are now rows and rows of seats (at $200 a pop). There are new expensive club seats, banners and ads all over the Green Monster and anywhere else you look, corporate sponsorships all over the place. After games, on their own TV network, the Red Sox cut their post game show in half so they could sell "exclusive" naming rights to two different companies, one to their "Red Sox Post Game" show, and one to their "Post Post Game" show. They have a fan club named Red Sox Nation that costs about $20 a year, and a couple years ago they had a novelty "name the President of Red Sox Nation" vote....that cost 99 cents per vote.
That last paragraph sounds vaguely familiar. Especially given FSG's announced preference for renovating Anfield.
Just look at the stories on Liverpoolfc.com at the moment. Sure, there are articles on Maxi's departure and routine fluff about or from Henderson, Flanagan, and Enrique. But there are also links to the US Tour and Auto-Ticket Scheme – give us your money! – an announcement about Garuda Indonesia as the new official airline partner, a promotion for the new monthly magazine, a promotion for the television channel, and slide-show of kids in the new Warrior kits. A slideshow. Of little kids. In the new kit. I utterly despair. The football-to-business ratio is almost exactly split right down the middle.
Let's make no mistake about it. FSG are running a business here. But whether they're running a football club remains to be seen.