20 June 2008

George and Tommy, sitting in a tree…

Gillett went on Canadian radio yesterday and gave a master’s course in corporate communication, saying little concrete (and absolutely nothing about the stadium) other than some talking points on how great the Liverpool fans are (heard that one before) and the “substantially improved” communication between the two owners, which certainly can’t be good for those of us who want both out of the club.

One of the biggest hopes during the DIC saga a few months back was that Gillett, on account of his silence, was looking to sell out. We read that he and Hicks weren’t getting along, it was Gillett/Parry v Hicks/Ayre, and George wanted to get away from Tommy Boy and recoup his investment because he didn’t have enough funds to take the club further (which was the reason Moores sold up).

After yesterday’s interview, that doesn’t seem to be the case at all. The co-owner did his best to say as little as possible, but reading between the lines, we’re stuck with them for the long haul.

And all the reassurances over focusing on the transfer window aren’t worth squat when you look at what’s been rumored in the press since the end of the season.

I know it’s only June and the window doesn’t open for another two weeks. But you’ve all seen the Liverpool transfer talk. While I highly, highly recommend taking said gossip with multiple grains of salt, there’s also a modicum of truth buried in there somewhere. Especially when we’ve seen the same narrative throughout all the dealings.

It certainly looks like Liverpool’s struggling for funds, to put it as tamely as possible. We’ve heard that Rafa needs to sell to buy, and Alonso, Crouch, Pennant, Carson and others have been rumored to leave, while Riise’s already gone for £4m. We’ve seen Liverpool bid for transfers with player-swaps instead of straight cash. We’ve seen three bids for Gareth Barry rejected as insufficient despite the player clearly wanting to leave. And we’ve seen the club linked with those who are arguably ‘squad players’ while the likes of Spurs are spending millions on players such as Modric and Dos Santos.

Yes, G&H getting along is probably better than them not speaking at all, as the club still has to operate. And yes, there’s a small possibility Liverpool will have more funds than we think, as happened with the purchases of Torres and Babel last summer and another £24m or so for Masch and Skrtel in January. But I’m obviously skeptical, even though Liverpool looks to have signed Andrea Dossena for £7m (talks have gone quiet, but he had his medical and went on honeymoon, and it seems a done deal), which would be another record fee for a defender.

But this is getting to be a farce. The only spade stuck in the ground at Stanley Park has been by the Spirit of Shankly organization, and Gillett flat out ignored a question about the new ground when it was brought up in the interview.

The two were brought in by Moores and Parry to take the club forward by building the new stadium and increasing the transfer budget. It’s still likely that the augmented spending last summer came from the Champions League run and upswing in television revenue, and other than that, they’ve fulfilled absolutely none of the promises spouted when they bought in, which was something like 16 months ago.

Liverpool continues to spend less than their rivals, take in less match-day revenue than their rivals, and the stadium still isn’t any nearer. But don’t worry, the owners are on speaking terms again!

Also, if I were Rick Parry, I wouldn’t take news of this détente well. Hicks has seemingly wanted him out for months now, and if Georgie’s back on Tommy’s side, Parry’s days have to be numbered.

Some choice quotes from my quick transcript:
“Absolutely right, it really is an amazing responsibility… we really hold these assets in trust for the fans, and we have an obligation to the fans and we feel that very strongly both in Montreal and in Liverpool.”

Q: “Have there been any developments since we last spoke.”
A: “No, nothing that either I would talk about or would be worth talking about. There has been… the communication between the Hicks and the Gilletts has been substantially improved and I believe that it will be for the benefit of the club.”

“Time is a healer and there were things that had happened previously the other way as well. It took a while for both of us I think to realize…I think that we both realized that perhaps we weren’t communicating very well...the huge responsibility we have to the fans and to do the right thing for the club. I believe that the Hicks’ are communicating better with us and we’re communicating better with them and that will be much better for the club.”

Q: “Has the for sale sign, for lack of a better phrase, been taken down”
A: “I’m not going to comment on anything specifically”

Q: “Are things still moving forward, in a theoretical sense, with the stadium?”
A: “In the sense that all of us are focused on the transfer window coming up and so forth. We want to be ready for that and we want to have adequate resources and good communication with Rafa and our hope is we’re making that kind of progress.”


Mike Georger said...

really faint silver lining ..... there wont be a sale to get both of them out unless theyre on good terms, because hicks made it clear he would block that. maybe if they get back together in a working fashion they will be able to settle down and realize the mess theyre in.

reaching? you betcha
but its something

Jeff said...

Nate, what do you think this squad needs in terms of summer transfers? With the number of youth brought into the academy under Rafa, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect this squad to be strengthened from within. So why not sell to buy, when you don't need what you're selling?

The silence on the stadium is a huge concern. I don't think G & H have the $$$ to build it and I think they have just come to realize this. Hubris and the credit crunch have conspired against them. Now....will they be true to their word and be good stewards for the club? Because a good steward would sell to someone with the money to move LFC forward.

nate said...

The Academy's a huge boon, and will be even more so when/if the stadium gets built if you go by Arsenal's precedent, but I don't know how many are ready for the step-up now. I hope to see more Plessis, Nemeth, Pacheco, and San Jose, among others, next season, but I imagine it'll be mainly in the Carling Cup.

Fullbacks have always been the most important part of the summer spending for me, and it's why I'm so pleased about Dossena, which I'll write more about when it gets finalized, if it actually goes through.

In addition, Liverpool could do with another attacker, preferably one that could play anywhere along the 3 in the 4-2-3-1. I can dream that signing would be Villa, but I doubt it, and Modric was the player I'd hoped for all season long, which is why his early transfer to Spurs still bothers me.

But most of the players rumored to be sold will need to be replaced as well. Alonso will have to be replaced by Barry or someone similar. If Crouch goes, Liverpool need another striker. Dossena is replacing Riise, but that was a necessary upgrade. Pennant and Carson can probably go with no repercussions though, but otherwise, Liverpool's still spending even after selling those on who are outside the first XI.

Admittedly, I am far more worried about the stadium financing though, I do like Liverpool's squad, even if the spending this summer isn't as high as hoped.

Mike Georger said...

some backup for my reaching