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The Liverpool Thread

May 1, 2015
If Carlsberg did last days .....

That was pretty much the perfect one ay?

Villa survive! Presuming they stay up long enough for fans to return in full, that's a short, boss trip saved. Which added to Leeds and West Brom, and losing three proper pain in the **** long ones (F off Deaney! Enjoy the Championship! Null and void' karma yer gobshite rat yer!'), is a great return in the relegation game.

Utd make the top 4 thankfully which just solidifies Solksjaer's hold there so well happy with that. Chelsea are the only downside getting in but you sadly accepted that tradeoff at the start of the day by wanting Utd to do their job. Just is what it is.

Swansea round the day off perfectly by taking a lead down to Brentford Wednesday. Which should have been 2 had Ayew not fluffed the peno Rhian won.

The mighty Reds, Champions of EVERYTHING already, went and improved their total from last season by 2 points to a mind-blowing 99 points. The second-highest tally I believe in the history of the English top flight. Phenomenal season. For a team that's not been fully on it mentally since the league was won they've had a pretty darn good return since the restart hey?

But the best of all ..... ?

L'pool finishing 50, that's FIVE 0/ FIFTY points ahead of Everton!??????

Ancelotti yet again proving to be worth EVERY penny of that ELEVEN AND A HALF MILLION a season!

That's almost as boss as #19. Almost.

Now if only the lil' blue dears would come out of hiding and reply to the texts .....
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May 1, 2015
Degsy's move to Zenit for a very tidy £11 million or so is now official.

Wrote on him the other day here in detail when this broke so all that's left to say is I sincerely wish you all the best mate in your new Russian venture. After experiencing our own superb City the past 6-years, you're now off to another of the Worlds great City's. Not a bad life if you can get it haha.

Thanks for the dedication to the cause mate and leaving behind some great memories we've shared together.
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May 1, 2015
After another superb bit of business for a severely injury-prone 4th choice CH, on the downside of his career, a timely place to post this interesting Joyce piece from a fortnight back on the leadership within from the man at the very top of his field in the Worldwide game. Our sporting director, Michael Edwards-

How criticism from Jürgen Klopp shaped Michael Edwards, the man who built Liverpool’s title-winning side

Michael Edwards is a key figure at Anfield despite his involvement in the ‘Spygate’ hacking affair, writes Paul Joyce
Paul Joyce
, Northern Football Correspondent

Tuesday July 14 2020, 12.00pm, The Times

Michael Edwards shifted a little uncomfortably in his seat when he was informed that everyone with whom he worked, including Jürgen Klopp, was to be asked to appraise his strengths and weaknesses. And, indeed, would be instructed to be brutally honest in their critiques.

Yet that initial discomfort would ultimately propel Liverpool’s sporting director forward. Today, he is regarded as the leader in his field. Since his promotion four years ago he has transformed the club’s transfer success rate and underpinned the improvement which yielded a first league title in three decades.

Over the course of eight transfer windows, the 41-year-old has helped remodel a Liverpool team that finished in eighth place, below West Ham United, in 2016. The squad has been revamped with the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Sadio Mané and Alisson on a net spend of around £67 million and when Arsenal confront the champions tomorrow there will be respect for what has been achieved both on and off the pitch.

Edwards’s introduction to how colleagues saw him was conducted by Pauline Gibson, who specialises in delivering leadership programmes to executives in the business world. The feedback he received would be insightful and instructive.

“I think, like most people, the thought of it is worse than the reality,” said Gibson, who runs the firm Excel Coaching and Consultancy Limited. “Michael’s initial response was ‘uh-oh!’ but then, straightaway, he was, ‘No, let’s do it.’

“All of us get in a rut with some of our thought patterns and it is my job to disrupt that. Michael would have a perception of himself as a leader, so I spent time getting feedback. Some of it can be hard to hear, some will be great. Jürgen is a very strong personality and when he has decided on something, he has decided.

“It can be quite challenging to influence an alternate point of view. I believe that Michael has learnt how to influence Jürgen effectively as a result of some of the work that we did. I know that he can influence Jürgen’s opinion.”

Most often Edwards’s impact manifests itself in discussions about a player. He has learnt that delivering succinct information to the manager is key and that confrontation is not conducive to progress.

Klopp has admitted it was the relentless recommendations of Edwards, and his team of analysts and scouts, that persuaded him to sanction the signing of Mohamed Salah for £34.3 million in 2017.

Chelsea snatched Salah, then of Basel, from under Liverpool’s noses in January 2014. But they kept on his trail, following closely his move to Roma, where 34 goals in 83 appearances validated first impressions. Klopp’s original target was Julian Brandt, yet when the German winger opted to stay at Bayer Leverkusen “Operation Salah” began.

Edwards’s decision to use a “business coach” to further his development feels groundbreaking, setting him apart from many of his contemporaries, but it was also necessary.

He has enjoyed a steady and impressive ascent from his stint in Peterborough United’s reserves, to life as a performance analyst at Portsmouth and Tottenham Hotspur under Harry Redknapp, before moving to Merseyside eight years ago.

With promotion came new responsibility. Instead of being sat in front of a computer screen and preparing analysis on opponents, Edwards is now at the controls of a worldwide institution, understanding football finance and running an operation always seeking to stay one step ahead of its rivals.

The sessions that Edwards and Gibson undertook, often lasting up to two hours, started at a hotel in Knutsford at the end of 2016 before they switched to monthly meet-ups at Liverpool’s Melwood training ground. They remain in close contact and any advice is always at hand.

These get-togethers illustrate the many layers to Liverpool’s success: there is the staff behind the squad, but also a team behind that.

Edwards’s style has had to evolve and while he would recognise that he can still be blunt and direct, perhaps that is not surprising given the high-pressure environment in which he works.

Liverpool stand resplendent as the champions of England, the world and — for a little longer at least — Europe, but owners Fenway Sports Group’s project did not always carry such kudos.

Edwards and his inner circle, which includes Dave Fallows, Barry Hunter and Ian Graham, are perceived as role models in how to manipulate the market, but the glare of the spotlight has previously been harsh.

Liverpool’s yo-yoing fortunes in FSG’s early years magnified every error with transfers both hit and miss — the capture of Philippe Countinho was followed by the signing of Mario Balotelli. This fuelled simmering tensions with the former manager Brendan Rodgers in contrast to the unity that exists with his successor Klopp who had, crucially, worked with a sporting director at Borussia Dortmund.

There was also the “Spygate” affair relating to the alleged hacking of Manchester City’s scouting system in 2013. Liverpool paid a £1 million settlement to City without any acceptance of wrongdoing.

Edwards, who has assisted in fostering a sense of togetherness behind the scenes at Liverpool, remains a private figure, although Gibson offers an intriguing insight.

“He has gone from being a doer, very good at what he does with the analytics and everything, to having to lead people,” she said. “That is a big difference.

“There was also a lot of uncertainty at the club when we got together, so he took some ownership to drive the culture of how Melwood felt, and what it was about, because people had been feeling neglected.

“Michael has really developed his ability to deal with conflict. When we started working, he would be ‘Yes, bring it on.’ He would have the fight or, sometimes, avoid it.

“He still has the edge to be demanding and ambitious and determined. How he manages that is different. That makes him a much more rounded leader whether that is dealing with agents or footballers or managers.”

Edwards is a very modern football man and has helped reshape arguably the ultimate modern football operation.

May 1, 2015

Liverpool signings under Edwards
Since his appointment as sporting director in 2016, Liverpool have spent £400.8m on 21 players

May, 2016Loris KariusMainz£4.7m
Jun, 2016Sadio ManeSouthampton£34m
Jul, 2016Joel MatipSchalkeFree
Jul, 2016Ragnar KlavanAugsburg£4.2m
Jul, 2016Georgino WijnaldumNewcastle£25m
Jul, 2016Alex ManningerAugsburgFree
May, 2017Dominic SolankeChelseaUndisclosed
Jun, 2017Mohamed SalahRoma£34.3m
Jun, 2017Andy RobertsonHull£8m
Aug, 2017Alex Oxlade-ChamberlainArsenal£35m
Jan, 2018Virgil van DijkSouthampton£75m
May, 2018FabinhoMonaco£39.3m
Jul, 2018Bobby DuncanManchester City£200k
Jul, 2018Naby KeitaRB Leipzig£52.75m
Jul, 2018Xherdan ShaqiriStoke£13m
Jul, 2018AlissonRoma£65m
Aug, 2018Ki-Jana HoeverAjaxUndisclosed
Jul, 2019Sepp van den BergPEC Zwolle£1.3m
Jul, 2019Harvey ElliottFulhamTBC
Aug, 2019AdrianWest HamFree
Jan, 2020Takumi MinaminoRB Salzburg£7.25m

Source: Times

Liverpool's sales under Edwards
Since the summer of 2016 Liverpool have sold or released 29 players for £333.35m, a net spend of around £67m

May, 2016Jerome SinclairWatford£4m
Jul, 2016Sergi CanosNorwich£2.5m
Jul, 2016Jordon IbeBournemouth£15m
Jul, 2016Martin SkrtelFenerbahce£5m
Jul, 2016Joe AllenStoke£13m
Jul, 2016Brad SmithBournemouth£3m
Aug, 2016Christian BentekeCrystal Palace£27m
Aug, 2016Luis AlbertoLazio£6m
Jan, 2017Tiago IloriReading£3.75m
Jul, 2017Andre WisdomDerby £2m
Jul, 2017LucasLazio£5m
Jul, 2017Kevin StewartHull£4m
Aug, 2017Mamadou SakhoCrystal Palace£26m
Jan, 2018Philippe CoutinhoBarcelona£142m
Jan, 2018Cameron BrannaganOxford United£200k
Jun, 2018Emre CanJuventusFree
Jun, 2018Jon FlanaganRangersFree
Jul, 2018Danny WardLeicester£12m
Aug, 2018Ragnar KlavanCagliari£2m
Jan, 2019Dominic SolankeBournemoputh£19m
Jan, 2019Lazar MarkovicFulhamFree
Jul, 2019Daniel SturridgeTrabzonsporFree
Jul, 2019Alberto MorenoVillarrealFree
Jul, 2019Rafa CamachoSporting£5m
Jul, 2019Danny IngsSouthampton£18m
Aug, 2019Simon MignoletBruges£6.4m
Aug, 2019Ryan KentRangers£7m
Sep, 2019Bobby DuncanFiorentina£1.8m
Jan, 2020AllanAtletico Mineiro£3.2m
May 1, 2015
And another excellent, related piece, again from Joyce, albeit from 2 years ago this December, but still as highly pertinent now as it was then as to how we're leading the field in recruitment-

Michael Edwards: the innovative sporting director giving Liverpool an edge in the market

The 39-year-old behind deals for Coutinho, Keïta and Firmino will be looked upon with envy by Manchester United on Sunday, writes Paul Joyce

Thursday December 13 2018, 5.00pm, The Times

For years Liverpool have sought to emulate Manchester United’s clout off the pitch — and not just in terms of their commercial success. Yet, at Anfield on Sunday, it will be the away side who will feel that they have much to learn from the structure put in place by their hosts.

Envious glances will be cast not only towards Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk and Jürgen Klopp but will extend, too, to Michael Edwards.

He is the man who stitched into the smallprint of Philippe Coutinho’s £142 million move to Barcelona a £100 million surcharge should the Catalans return for any other Liverpool player before 2020 and who secured Naby Keïta’s arrival 12 months in advance to ward off other suitors.

The “anti-Arsenal” clause reputed to have been included in Roberto Firmino’s contract when he signed, a response to the Londoners’ failed bid for Luis Suárez, has never been confirmed nor denied but seems the sort of out-of-the-box thinking that is protecting Liverpool and propelling them forward.

So while Klopp is central to a bubbling renaissance, the work of Edwards, the sporting director, together with his closely knit team of scouts and analysts, is also playing a crucial role in the club punching their weight once again.

It is not by chance that the team who are top of the Premier League boast the third-youngest starting XI in the top flight, a line-up that can grow with the manager, with the nucleus contracted to 2023-2024, without buy-out clauses.

It is a model that offers United food for thought. They have spent hundreds of millions of pounds in recent seasons without an overarching figure pulling all the necessary strands together and ensuring mistakes are kept to a minimum.

At Old Trafford, the prototype pits the manager, José Mourinho, with the executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward, and espouses a short-term approach where options are triggered on contracts to delay the threat of players walking out on free transfers.

Edwards, who played for Norwich City as a schoolboy and then for Peterborough United reserves, shuns the spotlight and never gives interviews. But his rise to eminence is rooted in his work as a performance analyst when Harry Redknapp was with Portsmouth.

“We worked on putting presentations together for the upcoming game and Michael also gave in-depth analysis on players that the club may have been interested in,” Joe Jordan, Redknapp’s former assistant, said.

“He had a playing career himself and I have always thought he is a good judge of a player. But it is not simply that. There are thousands of players out there and he does his homework.

“Michael doesn’t take any shortcuts. He makes sure when a player has been brought to his attention that he looks into it and gets his facts and figures right. He wants to make sure that if he is putting forward that player to the manager, all the information is in place.”

Edwards followed Redknapp and Jordan to Tottenham Hotspur as head of performance analysis. There he struck up a relationship with Daniel Levy, the Tottenham chairman, and was asked to reshape, and run, the entire department.

He was subsequently headhunted by Damien Comolli, Liverpool’s first sporting director, in 2012. Promotions to the role of director of technical performance, and then technical director, followed by August 2015 and he became sporting director in November of the following year.

Part of the 39-year-old’s remit is Liverpool’s medium and long-term strategy, with his brief including scouting, the academy, medical, research, player liaison and performance analysis. He is the key figure at Melwood to whom staff turn without knocking on Klopp’s door every five minutes.

The system has not always run smoothly. Tensions with Brendan Rodgers led to disharmony and mistakes — the success of Coutinho’s arrival undermined, for example, by the signing of Christian Benteke for £32.5 million from Aston Villa in 2015.

An improvement owes much to Klopp, who was accustomed to working with a sporting director at Borussia Dortmund, embracing a policy that has three fundamental rules.

First, a player will not be signed if the manager does not want him and, second, the owner, Fenway Sports Group, has the right to say no. So, if the manager wants to buy a 29-year-old for £40 million and FSG does not want to spend that amount on someone whose career could be dead in the water in three years’ time, then that is its choice.

The final tenet relates to constantly keeping up to date with the transfer market, spotting opportunities and assessing availability, which in turn guides purchases and sales.

The evolution of FSG’s transfer strategy, a switch from targeting potential to proven talent and embracing the financial demands attuned to that, has also been transformative, although whether the club would have signed Alisson Becker for £65 million had Nabil Fekir not failed a medical on a £53 million transfer from Lyons is unclear.

There is still a difference between spending money and spending wisely though. Liverpool have also sold well.

Their three-year spend from 2016 to the summer of 2018 is £390 million. Sales from the same period have raised £265 million, bringing a net spend of £125 million. Estimated net spend figures over the same period put United at £300 million, Manchester City £358 million and Arsenal £140 million.

For United, the way forward feels complicated.

Mourinho does not appear to be averse to receiving more help. His comments on the signing of Diogo Dalot, the exciting right back, struck a chord following on from the praise handed to the West Ham United scout behind the signing of Issa Diop after he starred in United’s 3-1 September defeat at the London Stadium.

“I’m not a scout,” Mourinho said. “I have no chance to do that. I can do it with Dalot because he is Portuguese. I can control that market pretty well. He’s a player with fantastic potential.”

The sporting director model cannot prosper if the incumbent is simply the manager’s man because then he becomes another salary with little value.

“Michael is brilliant at taking all of the information from the scouts who have been watching games, all the analytics, and pulling that together,” one source familiar with the Liverpool set-up said.

“But his character means he can be quite argumentative as well and that’s healthy.

“He will stand his ground if he really believes in something: ‘Here are the three targets. I know you like that one better, but let us show why you might want to think about this.’

“It is not to be disrespectful but he will say [to the manager], ‘You are wrong’. You need arguments to get the best for club. The role is not about just agreeing with everything.”

This challenges the image of laptop geek and Klopp has publicly acknowledged the recruitment team that pushed for him to sign Salah in the summer of 2017 before and after his preferred option, Bayer Leverkusen’s Julian Brandt, opted against a move to Merseyside.

After ups and downs, Liverpool are clearly benefiting from a framework painstakingly put in place and United must decide how long they can wait before following suit.

“Nowadays it is different to 20 years ago,” Jordan said. “Then, the manager, or coach, would finish training, jump in a car and pop up to Lancashire, for example, to look at a player.

“It doesn’t happen as much now because that player is playing for Cologne or in Buenos Aires. The work that gets done in the background is enormous to try and ensure the manager can do his job on the training pitch with the players he wants.

“Michael is very professional and does the job properly.”

Edwards is on a rolling contract. He is happy at Liverpool, but it might be worth updating with an anti-United clause.

The key figures in Liverpool’s think-tank
Jürgen Klopp
Liverpool manager

The German is receptive to the sporting director model. His office is opposite that of Edwards.

Mike Gordon
The Fenway Sports Group president

He and Edwards are in daily contact.

Dave Fallows
Head of recruitment

His strengths lie in strategy and he manages the scouting department on a daily basis.

Barry Hunter
Chief scout

He was behind the signings of Joe Gomez from Charlton Athletic for £3.5 million and the highly-rated 16-year-old Ki-Jana Hoever, who joined from Ajax in September. He arrived from Manchester City with Fallows in 2012.

Ian Graham
Director of research

He heads up a team of four PHD graduates with backgrounds ranging in astrophysics to physics and advanced maths. Responsible for all data that helps to drive decision making.

Julian Ward
Oversees care of players on loan

Other clubs have now created similar positions and adopted similar deal concepts from Liverpool with cost of loan decreasing as appearances rise.
May 1, 2015
After Degsy, the second departure of the windows first day becomes official-

One of the key foundation blocks for everything we've evolved into under Jürgen.

Wrote on Adam the other day when this first broke so I'll just add my sincerest thanks for his dedication to the cause the past 6 years and wish him every success on his return home to his roots.

Brighton are getting both a wonderful footballer, his health permitting, and the picture-perfect professional leader by example day in, day out for everyone to follow.

It was time for all parties, but a big loss out of our changies nonetheless.
May 1, 2015
In this COVID World wesadly find ourselves in, Jürgen on transfer/ squad plans after using 24 players in the PL/CL-

''...... The solution cannot be to have a much bigger squad for the specific moment and then realise you cannot use all the players,” said the manager, who sent his players off on a well-deserved two-week holiday with a reminder of their responsibilities to keep on top of the latest coronavirus travel guidance and potential quarantine restrictions.

'These players can only play the football they play because they know they are needed.

They are all human beings and nobody can be held back for a year and then on the last day of the year be told, ‘Now we need you.

In between now and then there must be a lot of training and support and challenges stuff like this.

We cannot keep someone in the backyard and bring them up in the decisive moment. That will not help. We will have solutions for that, we have young players.

The size of the squad is not that important to me, the quality of the squad is very much so .

Usually we know about the financial funds that we have as much as you can know,” he added.

“A few weeks ago nobody knew if we could play Champions League next season again. Can you count on the money of the Champions League and how much will it be?

That is all uncertain and that is what we consider because we are not only responsible for the success of the club, we are responsible for all the people at the club and that means everyone who is working here.

As long as we don’t know exactly about things, we have to wait. We have a really good squad, we have to see what we can do, we have to see what have to do, we need still more time.

Time will hopefully bring a bit more clarity about the future and then we will make our decisions. ..... ”

I LOVE our ethos. 'Quality over quantity.'

It's how we roll at all levels.

Whilst other clubs pay for this and that to bulk out the squad to it's max, and stock up the youth ranks with as many as they can, we just go for the select top talents that fit exactly what we do. On and off the pitch. So refreshing during transfer windows to not get caught up in all the rumour B/S.

And it's not served us too bad at all now under Jürgen has it?
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May 1, 2015

Totally expected and the most logical outcome in these unprecedented times.

Frustrating but something to look forward to for next summer and hopefully an even more stunning facility with the extra time frame to work on it.

We do, however, need to make FAR more of a commitment to the woman's side and make them a proper part of the football club rather than stuck over the water at Tranmere. (Which is up at the end of the new season.). Like most lads, I have little to no interest in them personally and couldn't name you one player if you put a gun to my head. Maybe to my detriment but it's just not my bag. But I fully appreciate their place and big importance for those that do. No less for young girls to have role models of their own to follow and give them something tangible to aspire to. Both to play the game themselves and all the fun and health benefits there. And further to see a way of making an actual living out of the game.

If we truly want to be a totally inclusive, diverse football club welcome to all, then we need to stop just paying lip service to LFC Woman and properly bring them into the day-to-day fold and increase the budget we allocate for the woman's side.
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May 1, 2015
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May 1, 2015
So a bittersweet night at Brentford then last night.

On the one hand, great that a new ground is still alive for next season. (If they survive long enough for the full return of fans like.).

On the other, Rhian's season ends agonisingly short after another belter goal to add to his now not-so secret stupendous talent reputation-

Shame for him and his young compadres their efforts fell agonisingly short this year. But the experience of that hurt is another invaluable part of the development process for him to take forward and learn from. It's all about how you react to massive setbacks as the ridiculous mentality monsters of the first-team have shown the last two years after the gut kickers of Kiev and then ending up without the league after a 97-point season showed. 11 goals from 22 games, in his first half-season of professional men's football, in probably the hardest league to compete in the World over, at one of the youngest and most inexperienced squads in the competition, is a heck of a pro debut return. The glowing tributes from manger, teammates and fans in South Wales have just added to what he's shown from day one at Kirkby where he's the jewel in a burgeoning crown of talent stepping up.

Big decision to be made now the next few weeks. Do we loan him out again at a high level to another similar style of football team? As frightening as his talent is (and it's ****** frightening! Like Fowler/ Owen ceiling frightening), there's absolutely NO rush here as he's a young 20 making up for lost time?

Or, with literally a game every three days ALL season long in the coming madness of next year, do we keep him as opportunities will be plentiful whilst training among World-class players and being moulded by a World-class coaching staff every day?

Fascinating to see how the staff play this over the next month as his rapid development continues apace.