Saturday, July 11, 2020
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Liverpool Football Club; illustrious, historical and supported all over the globe. More than just a team but still no premier league title. Blackburn Rovers are surely just a team and even they have managed to win one title, albeit with a Kop legend at the helm. What is most concerning is that fans and staff are searching long and hard for the reasons behind their title drought when it all seems very simple; Liverpool sign mostly poor players, often for lots of money.

This willingness to pay top money for real dross has consumed every manager at Anfield since the start of the Premier League. Graeme Souness warmed up for the new competition by signing forward Paul Stewart for £2.3m-then a considerable sum- after he dazzled the angry Scotsman with a one-in-five scoring rate. Each Paul Stewart goal cost Souness exactly £2.3m.

It is fair to say that the players that have thrilled the crowd and delivered the most success are all home-grown. The fans love for them is not just because they are local, but because their level of performance is high. Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, Steve McManaman, Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard have contributed so much to the club but have never had the right outsiders to mount a successful title bid.

Roy Evans signed and persisted with players well below the standard of Manchester United. John Scales was unlikely to break the mould. He may as well have just signed Steve Claridge and been done with it.

Despite some good performances and some near misses, a solitary league cup in 1995 lead the board to draft in Gerard Houllier to work alongside Evans and then watch poor Roy leave.

Houllier proved to be a renegade with the cheque book, as though he got his hands on a mates management computer game and just wanted to waste all his money and save before he could come back in. Emile Heskey, Djibril Cisse and El Hadji Diouf were all brave yet fruitless signings.
Bruno Cheyrou was the new Zidane but now he is not. Salif Diao was the new Patrick Vieira but actually he was much worse. Maybe just get players that are already good?

The nucleus of young British talent was waning. McManaman and Fowler left and despite a multiple trophy winning season in 2001 the league was no closer. Confidence was high every pre-season but wrecked by May. When you checked the squads next to that of Manchester United and Arsenal, Liverpool were lacking.

The arrival of Rafael Benitez, fresh from vanquishing the giants of Spain by winning the title with Valencia, gave the Kop new grounds for confidence. The dramatic Champions League campaign ended in glory and fans could only see the positives.

The truth though was they also finished 5th in the table, behind local rivals Everton and they have never seriously challenged since. Michael Owen left and Fernando Torres’ signing last summer has given them a guaranteed goal-scorer. The signings have improved in quality but there is still room for concern. Pennant, Kuyt and Alonso have mixed reactions from fans and pundits alike and the £20m capture of Robbie Keane seems strange.

Gareth Barry has been pinpointed as the answer to all the problems, but the owners may feel that Mascherano was supposedly the answer to the same question last year. Can they justify another £18m?

Benitez has been quoted criticising the lack of funds he has to work with in direct comparison to United and Chelsea. Arsenal however provide an argument that you can be competitive without spending big. Rafa has spent big, really big, he now needs to justify it.

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