Date: 11th June 2019 at 7:30pm
Written by:

Writer: BelgianSpur

Now that we have all had the opportunity to digest the disappointment of losing the Champion’s League final, but also the opportunity to praise MP for taking the team that far, I wanted to write an article discussing the team’s near future and outlook in the upcoming transfer window(s). And funnily enough, it all starts and ends with… Liverpool.

This year, we came very close to winning a major title, which has to be encouraging, as far as the club’s development is concerned. On the other hand, it is again a season which ends without a title, and the wait for a trophy continues. The longer the wait goes on, the more we have to wonder if our current approach is ever going to deliver a trophy.

Funnily enough, the team we lost to in the final, Liverpool, is a very interesting case of progression. By all accounts, they have had an excellent season, winning the CL, and accumulating a points tally in the league which would make them champions 99% of the time. And given that they were in the CL final last year, it’s hard to call this season a one-off. It’s rather the culmination of a transformation which began a few seasons ago. It’s fair to say that they are ahead of us, currently, by most objective measures.

However, it hasn’t always been that way. In fact, looking back at the last 5 seasons, Spurs have finished above Liverpool 4 times. In the last 10, we finished above them 8 times. So how come they are winning titles now, when we have arguably been a superior team to them, in general, in the last 10 years?

The easy answer is money, but that would be short-sighted. Yes, Liverpool have had more money than us in the last 10 years, but they were never the wealthiest club in the PL in that time frame. They too have had to compete with teams far wealthier than them. They didn’t “buy” a title in the way that City or Chelsea have done in the past, by just throwing money at it. They have invested, yes, but lost players along the way too. And their spending pales in comparison to at least 3 clubs in England in that time frame.

In fact, looking deeper in how Liverpool have operated in recent years, there are many similarities with how we have operated recently. They too have produced players from their academy (Trent Alexander-Arnold). They too have successfully bought from the lower leagues (Joe Gomez). They too have had to deal with high-profile departures of key players (Suarez, Sterling, Coutinho). They too have successfully developed young players (Jordan Henderson). They too have found bargains in England (Gigi Wijnaldum, Xerdan Shaqiri) and abroad (Andy Robertson). They too have invested in a world-class training centre. The list goes on.

So if they have largely operated in a similar way to us in many ways, how can they win titles that are seemingly evading us? Well, there are a few differences in the way the 2 clubs operate, and if recent results are anything to go by, it is those differences which seem to have pushed Liverpool over the edge:

1. They haven’t been afraid to invest when they felt the right player was available. In the last years, Klopp identified weaknesses at centre back, and keeper. To solve those, he went out and broke transfer records to sign Van Dijk and Allisson, who were both instrumental in defeating us a few days ago, and sanctioned big deals for the likes of Fabinho and Keita too.

In order to fund those moves, he has sanctioned the sale of important players over the years, but he has been allowed to reinvest all of the money generated from player sales into new signings, which is something we as a club don’t do.

2. They aren’t artificially limiting their spend (such as our zero net spend policy, or thereabouts) or maintaining a wage limit hindering their recruitment. Despite this (or what some people on VS would call “unsustainable spending”), it doesn’t seem like LFC are anywhere near bankruptcy.

Of course, the elephant in the room is the new stadium. Liverpool don’t have a new stadium to repay. Faced with a need to modernise their infrastructures a few years ago, LFC opted against the building of a new stadium, and instead opted to renovate Anfield to increase capacity. This was deemed a less expensive and quicker solution.

I’m not sure that was ever an option on the table for us, unfortunately. But it’s hard not to put 2 and 2 together, and come to the conclusion that it is in fact the stadium repayment which is strangling our investment, despite the lines fed to us by Daniel Levy.

So let that be a lesson for Daniel Levy. We have done well to get this far, with limited resources. But this model has its limits. Liverpool tried it and won nothing. Only when they accepted that targeted spending was necessary, did they actually win something (and despite the 2 or 3 big signings, their overall spending still is largely inferior to the Man Citys of this world).

By all accounts, we are growing revenues faster than anyone, and bridging the gap with clubs above us at a rapid rate. What hasn’t increased proportionally is what we reinvest in the squad. Either we are open-minded enough to look at successful models around us, and adapt, or we can stubbornly do the same thing over and over, while expecting different results.

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44 Replies to “Liverpool, a model for Spurs to follow?”

    • Good read BelgianSpur. I can see the similarities you talk about and many would say how Liverpool identified and strengthened is basically what Mauricio Pochettino has been hinting towards.

      Not sure I understand the comment Alan, given you don’t subscribe to the front page and had to physically enter your name, email and message if you don’t use a universal login (which isn’t a subscription). We welcome all contributions, maybe you’d like to try?

  • We weren’t close to winning a trophy yes we got a final but never looked like winning it was all over after 2 minutes and we had kane Ali son and Ericksen all having shockers. Poch can take some of the blame also.

    • Yet we still better dominated and had more chances, so I don’t get the line – despite how poor we were – that a moment of luck wouldn’t have changed it. We just didn’t get any and/or weren’t sharp enough to make it happen. But it’s not like we didn’t threaten or have the chances.

  • It’s not just down to money, it’s the players weak mentality, the team not learning from mistakes and same as poch as he’s stubborn guy. How to see out games when winning.

  • To follow Liverpool’s model we’d have to spend around £200m on about 4-5 players this summer – let’s wait and see if it happens. With Dembele, Vorm, Llorente, Janssen, N’Koudou, Onomah, CCV, possibly Eriksen and Toby and even Aurier leaving or having left they’ll need replacing so let’s see what kind of quality we bring in.

  • Over £250m to be precise – that’s roughly what they spent on Van Dijk, Alisson, Keita, Fabinho and Shaqiri. Let’s see us go out and buy the 4-5 players we need and spend that amount – not a chance in hell most probably but we live in wait…..!

  • Good article BS. It does seem to me that we are on the cusp of bringing in players that will make a difference (maybe that’s just hoping). I think we all agree that now is the time. As I’ve said before we will soon have a sound idea of what the club’s spending philosophy for the next 2 or 3 years will be. (How’s the little one doing?)

  • BS…….”By all accounts, we are growing revenues faster than anyone, and bridging the gap with clubs above us at a rapid rate. What hasn’t increased proportionally is what we reinvest in the squad.”

    The growth in revenues has only come about with the move to the new stadium, we haven’t had a transfer window since this time so I think it’s a bit early to be saying that squad investment hasn’t increased in proportion to this. Maybe we should wait until the end of summer and see what happens.

  • Liverpool have had a fantastic couple of seasons that is for sure. But if we are judging them by trophy success under their current owners , then they have won just 2. And it was the CL final v Spurs that saw them add to their League cup win in 2012. So, in reality, Spurs (in this time-frame), have been just as close to big time success as they have. And losing the CL final to a team that performed even more poorly on the day than Tottenham did was the en result of a one-off final that could just as easily have been seen as a Spurs. win.

    Thing is, in my entire lifetime of supporting Spurs, Liverpool have been high earners that have mostly been second to just United when it comes to popularity and club earnings as a commercial entity. And yet after all of the success of the 80’s they still found themselves soon to be struggling to make ends meet by the time their current owners Fenway took over and, were in serious debt, at risk of administration.

    Fenway didn’t buy the club outright and borrowed funds to purchase the club. But because of a recession, general financial instability and ongoing club debts, Fenway found that funding would be hard to come by to go ahead with the plans of building a new stadium. But not because they didn’t want to but because they just couldn’t justify the risk and high spending of yet more borrowed funds to achieve it. (if they could have got the funds in he first place, that is) …

    And yet Spurs have indeed managed to build its new stadium and also reach a CL final but without anywhere near the earnings of Liverpool in that time and without anywhere near the historical success and standing that Pool have had over many, many years. Which is by way of comparison to Spurs, 18 1st division titles and 6 European/CL cup wins. As well as many domestic cup trophies.

    So, looking at the bigger picture, Spurs are doing remarkably well doing things their way. But if it’s all just about trophies then we are not that far behind them anyway. In fact just one match behind them. As I’ve been told many times on here that finishing second in the PL means nothing. (At least it meant nothing when Spurs recently finished 2nd). Haha!

    I believe that Pool are indeed a good model to follow at this time but it’s still about money more than anything and they currently still have the greater income, are apparently second only to Man U with their wage bill and spent more than any other PL last season on agents fees.They bought very well of course but only off the back of Coutinho’s huge fee. And not from out of years and years of shrewd business progress.

    For me, Spurs have to be seen as the club to follow and be highly respectful of. But of course that can only be eventually proven in retrospect over the following years. Meanwhile, we are just 1 CL win in our standing, behind the current Liverpool and that is one mean feat for THFC having been runners up to them… Oh and we do have a wonderful new stadium to boot!

    So watch out Liverpool. Watch out PL and watch out the rest of Europe!

    We are not there just yet but I doubt that we would be anywhere near as close as we currently are to all of our main rivals (not just Pool), if it weren’t for our own rather impressive club model under ENIC…

  • Fantastic article Belgian. Liverpool have shown us the way to bounce back after a CL final defeat. Let’s see if the board and the playing staff were hurt enough by losing to finally take that final (but admittedly largest) step. The Instagram pics on beaches in various parts of the world say otherwise, but let’s wait and see what the squad looks like on day one of the Premier League season.

  • BS… Decent article. The new stadium build costs, and all the aggro of litigation with Archway Steel for 5 years or so, severely delayed the business model for THFC by Levy and co. First stadium design was back in 2007.. So in fact we are now finally out of the dark tunnel (so to speak) and into the white lights of THFC new stadium, 🙂 will see spurs move ahead. I did say on other threads, it will be 2nd year in new stadium for us to win silverware, which assumed we started Aug 2019 / 2020 season.

    So as poch has taken us so close this season is fantastic ! as well as semi finals, and 2nd in PL with 4 years of CL. Now we are ahead of my predicted schedule… We can expect Levy to spend on some decent players incoming, and 4 or 5 outgoing. COYS

  • I think we should be signing N’Dombele and Fernandes to replace Dembele and Eriksen and show some real intent for next season. Along with that Sessegnon to replace N’Koudou and a decent back-up to push HK10. Finally I would sell Aurier and go for a top class RB like Bissaka or Semedo. If we do this we’d be in with a good shout at trophies in the near future bearing in mind of course how strong City and Liverpool are but you have to try and Utd and Chelski and Arse certainly will so we cannot stand still and worst case be leap-frogged by these 3 other clubs. Liverpool have come on leaps and bounds after INVESTING around £250m in 5 players and look at them now! The stadium should finance itself depending on how quickly we want to pay it off and CAN actually do so, so would be nice and IMPORTANT to see some real investment in the squad this summer.

  • Buy cheap, buy twice, thrice, etc – we bought cheap in Aurier – he should have been Walker’s replacement but has not worked out unfortunately. Hopefully we can admit the error and sell him off and bring in a top class RB to finally own the position like Walker used to. Again in the other position’s that will need replacing hope we buy quality recruits instead of taking risks with lesser players and it not working out meaning more dross and a drain on finances we simply cannot afford at this time.

  • I’m now worried we’ll have to settle for the likes of Andre Gomes and Van De Beek, etc than get in real top quality like N’Dombele and Fernandes. You get what you pay for – Van de Beek is decent and Gomes ain’t bad but there’s a reason that Lyon and Sporting are asking top dollar and that’s because they have 2 extremely talented players in their respective hands and 2 we should do everything to sign. I’d almost be prepared to forego the HK10 back-up and new RB in order to get these 2 in and finally Sessegnon. Eriksen and Dembele were massively important to us in AM and DM respectively and we need quality replacements for them. The prices reflect the fact they’re still young and whose market value could double or triple up in the next few year’s so they have to be seen as quality INVESTMENTS in more ways than 1, namely on and off the pitch and that’s talking like a SELLING club not one that wants to achieve things. We could then look at new RB and new striker in January/next Summer. That’s partly desperate but you have to be desperate after losing quality like Eriksen and Dembele 1 shortly after the other.

  • N’Dombele and Winks would make for a formidable double pivot and we’d have great cover in Sissoko, Dier and Wanyama not to mention Skippy. Fernandes, Lo Celso, De Beek – if we’re willing to splash the cash which I think we will be – there are options available for the Eriksen role – personally Fernandes for me but let’s wait and see what happens. Can’t wait for Sessegnon to finally join either as expected.

  • It’s my opinion that we will not see more than one high profile addition to the team this window unless Eriksen goes(which I do not think he will). As I have said before the arithmetic of salaries over a 5 year contract (say $8M per year) would preclude more than one such addition. We will be reduced to the “cannot buy until we sell” mode again. A couple of $20-25M buys (players with promise) and promotions from our academy is my prediction. Also, don’t we need some English graduates to balance our overseas player numbers in the squad?

  • The finance of incoming players, will always be alongside outgoing players finances. As Levy / Poch have to balance squad numbers, with necessary wages, add ons etc. As to selling before buying, this is done by all clubs, as in R Madrid when they bought bale for £85m.. they sold Ozil to Arsenal for £42m in a deal a couple of days later, which means they must have negotiated with Gooners before signing Bale.

    As some posters will mention, finance in football business , any business is subject to corporate balance sheet and controlling directors / shareholders willingness / ability to input funds. Alongside regulations prevalent to that particular business sector, in football… UEFA Fair Play for example.

  • Villa at home for the opening fixture………….5:30pm kick-off on BT Sport…………..I’m happy with that.

    Manu v Chelsea as an opening fixture is tough! lol

  • I’m hoping it’s on BT Sport anyway, they usually have the Saturday 5:30 kick-offs but maybe things will change for the new season because I understand they have more of the 12:30 matches on Saturday.

  • I won’t even waste my time responding to Alan Rosas, whose only meaningful contributions to VS will be spelling 2 words correctly.

    Geof – as we have discussed many times, you are hopeful that this window is the window when we finally turn the corner. Time will tell but I am not as hopeful as you are, given that we have been let down so many times before. If we do spend, it’ll only be because we’ve lost one or several word class players in the process. That in itself could be acceptable if we replace quality with quality, but our track record suggests that we replace quality with unproven quantity (and all we have to do is look at what happened when Bale, Modric and Walker left). If past performance is a credible indicator of future results, it’s worrying.

    TQ2Spurs – “The growth in revenues has only come about with the move to the new stadium, we haven’t had a transfer window since this time so I think it’s a bit early to be saying that squad investment hasn’t increased in proportion to this.”

    That’s just not true. Our revenues have been growing significantly year on year for quite a few years now, and this growth has absolutely nothing to do with the new stadium. The growth in revenues can be mainly attributed to 3 things: an increase in TV money (the Sky deal for the PL, which started to kick in in 2016), our successive top 4 finishes leading to CL participation (the first effects of which would have kicked in in 2017), and more recently, the Wembley effect (which out of the 3, is the smallest contribution). We could have begun increasing our spending 2 or 3 years ago, by as much as 20 to 30 million per year, and still remained in very prudent waters, financially.

    Block 108 – FFP merely says that a club can’t spend more than it earns. However we are talking about overall revenues, not just revenues generated by player sales (ie, we can’t operate at a loss). What Levy has done is only reinvested the money generated from player sales, ie the famed “zero net spend”. This is absolutely not something every club does, and Real Madrid are about the poorest example out there. This transfer window, they have already spent 47 million on a left back, 53 million on a striker and 88 million on a little Belgian midfielder from Chelsea. They may not be done. Sure, they will sell players but I doubt the money they get from player sales will even come close to what they spend.

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