It is easy to see why Liverpool supporters are unhappy with their club’s lack of spending in January, however, they should trust Fenway Sports Group (FSG), who have been a model in the transfer market of late, says Jamie Carragher.
Liverpool have been struggling all season, currently languishing down in ninth place in the Premier League and in serious danger of not qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
Despite enduring a lengthy injury list and sitting 10 points off fourth spot, the Reds brought in just Netherlands forward Cody Gakpo from PSV Eindhoven for a fee of between £35m and £45m in the January transfer window.
However, while Carragher sympathises with the Liverpool fans’ frustrations over the club’s inertia in January, he is also keen to point out that FSG are owners who like to wait until a particular target becomes available, in a model that has become the envy of Europe.
“Medically wise, they have had a really bad season in terms of injuries,” Carragher said.
“Sometimes that can be down to bad luck, sometimes that can be down to the way injuries are looked after, who is involved. They have not replaced a doctor (Jim Moxon) who left in the summer, whether that is a problem or not, I am not sure. But they have had really bad luck and they need to sort that medical department one way or another.
“In terms of transfers, I can understand the frustrations of Liverpool fans when they see other clubs spending left, right and centre, and because Liverpool are not bringing someone in, it almost looks like they have given up on that fight for the top four.
“But what I would never want my club to be, which is what they were when I was a player, is a little bit scattergun, panicking at different times, whereas Liverpool over the last four or five years have been a model that other clubs around Europe have wanted to follow.
“And what they do not do is panic in the transfer market, and I think Jurgen Klopp has shown that before when he has had really successful buys that he has brought in, like Virgil van Dijk, who he waited for before bringing in.
Liverpool over the last four or five years have been a model that other clubs around Europe have wanted to follow
“If Liverpool are not bringing players in now because they have not got the money, or the player is not there that Klopp wants, that is a completely different argument that we do not know, we are not privy to that information.”
Carragher, however, says it is unfair to criticise FSG for failing to strengthen in midfield when they tried to bring in Aurelien Tchouameni from Monaco and would have moved for Jude Bellingham had Borussia Dortmund shown any interest in selling the England international last summer
As a result, the former Liverpool defender believes the Americans will make up for their recent lack of spending by splashing the cash this summer, with the Reds reportedly still pushing to sign Bellingham.
“I am convinced Liverpool will have a big summer, I am sure a lot of fans want them to have a big January, but I would not want Liverpool to go back to what they used to do when I was playing where you would be buying players and hoping that it would work,” he added.
“More often than not Liverpool’s signings have worked because Klopp gets the man that he wants and they bide the time for him and do not panic.
“That does not mean I am right, or the club is right, in terms of Klopp, but I think it got to last summer and they were well aware of what they needed to do in midfield and they tried to sign Tchouameni and he went to Real Madrid.
“I think Liverpool were at the stage last summer they almost won four trophies and they were in the Champions League final, so they were probably thinking that for us to bring in a player, they need to be special, and they felt Tchouameni was that player and he goes to Real Madrid.
“It is obvious they have been working on the Jude Bellingham transfer for a long time. They [Dortmund] were not going to sell him last summer, so maybe they thought let’s wait till this summer, and this midfield can get us through.
“And I have said it before, it has just blown up in their face and, yes, it is their job to see these things before they happen, and they have got that wrong, there is no doubt about that. But I can understand it, so I am not going to be massively critical of them for not bringing in a midfield player in the summer because the two players they wanted were not available.
“And that goes back to my point that Liverpool and Klopp throughout all his time at Liverpool wants to get the player that he wants and not just to bring a body in. Listen, a body could work, a player could come in and change things, I am not denying that.
“But their track record over the last five or six years and how they have gone about it has worked more often than not, so for the time being I am prepared to bide my time until the summer.”
Looking ahead to this summer then, Carragher thinks Liverpool will not only need to invest heavily to strengthen the midfield area, but they will need to be smart with their acquisitions.
“FSG will need to get investment as they will need to spend at least £250m-£300m in the summer and I am not about saying every problem that you have you just throw money at it, as Liverpool have proven over the last few years that is not always the answer,” he said.
“The answer is to have clever recruitment and they will need that and to have financial backing as they need three central midfielders. Now when you go to a scouting department or behind the scenes, it is always interesting who takes the credit for signings – is it someone who has scouted them, or is it the manager getting the best out of them?
“Now, I do not know the answer to that as there are some players who were at Liverpool before Klopp and they were not doing very well, so is that Brendan Rodgers’ fault for not getting the best out of them, or is Klopp getting more out of them? Roberto Firmino is a perfect example.
“No one will ever know who is the person at any club to really take the credit, but, for me, Klopp is the guy to take the credit for what has gone on at Liverpool and taking the credit for it.
“I am sure he has had a lot of help from really top people, and they are top people, really top operators, but I would be looking more at Klopp as to why Liverpool have been successful.
But for me, the success Liverpool have had, I have said it from the day he came in, I would rather lose any player at that club before I lost Klopp as a Liverpool supporter and I do not think that will ever change
“But your football club cannot fall apart if you lose your sporting director, there are other people out there doing similar jobs, just look at what is happening at Brighton right now in terms of their scouting system.
“But what I think Liverpool have done right over the years is not just scouting good players and getting good value, not panicking, not making mistakes, not spending silly money on players and they need to continue to do so. And they will need someone to fill that head of recruitment role, I think they are in the process of doing that.
“But again, I go back to the fact that it is easy to bring players in, it is then getting them to play well on the pitch that is the hard bit. So I still go back to it, Klopp is the most important man at Liverpool and has been for the success that Liverpool have had, not someone who was head of scouting, of who is picking players. It is the manager who picks them and gets the best out of them on a regular basis.”
As for Klopp’s own future at Anfield, Carragher feels that while results must obviously improve next season after this transitional campaign, the German’s position is safe as he is the architect behind the club’s recent renaissance.
“It is going to be a tough season for Liverpool, Klopp has tried a few things already, he is not just sitting there, he has brought younger players in right now, Liverpool have stopped pressing, they have dropped off,” said the former Liverpool captain. “At one stage they were playing 4-4-2 at the start of the season and they did something similar at the weekend at Brighton to try and do something different.
“Klopp is trying to find answers to the problems he has got right now, but you are trying to play Klopp football without Klopp players, they do not have the energy or the legs right now to do that.
“So Klopp is trying different things, it is not quite working, and in terms of how that affects Klopp with Liverpool in the future, you cannot continually have poor seasons as a manager, everybody knows that.
“But for me, the success Liverpool have had, I have said it from the day he came in, I would rather lose any player at that club before I lost Klopp as a Liverpool supporter, and I do not think that will ever change.”