The sale of any football club goes hand-in-hand with overindulgent spending by its new owner. The past 12 months have seen Liverpool and Manchester City spend heavily in the transfermarket, but for entirely different reasons. For one team it was to challenge city-rivals and finally put their name on a trophy that has, until recently, seemed light years away. For another, it was to rebuild and reshape a squad completely out of their depth; to get back on the road to finally bringing silverware back to a club so accustomed to being at the top of the mountain.
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While it appears from the off that both teams over rely on one or two individuals, it’s interesting to note the difference in quality similar sums of money can bring in.
Have Liverpool been wise with their purchases since John W. Henry took over the club? The name that comes kicking and screaming to the front of the queue is Andy Carroll. One of the biggest wastes of money or a player who could eventually live up to the elite quality his price tag commands? At this stage it’s fair to say that the former Newcastle man has struggled in his time at Anfield. Arriving as a January deadline-day purchase along with former Ajax striker Luis Suarez, it’s the Uruguayan who is so far taking all the praise.
Even though Carroll offers a different dimension to the Liverpool attack, he has often struggled to keep with the quick-thinking, fleet-footed nature of his strike partner. To his frustration, and that of the Liverpool hierarchy, Carroll finds himself warming the bench.
Comparing him to the gem in Liverpool’s squad is a genuine chalk and cheese comparison. Picking up Luis Suarez for a fee of £24 million from Ajax has proven to be an astute piece of business. A player capable of taking over the goal-scoring responsibility of the departed Fernando Torres and certainly a presence who can give the rest of the squad a lift.
Comparably, Manchester City’s newly-acquired strike-force of Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko can hold themselves in higher esteem than those at Liverpool. Totalling a similar fee, Aguero and Dzeko have developed a far more clinical partnership and have been instrumental in shooting City to the top of the table. The Bosnian may have taken a while longer to bed in, but the arrival of Atletico Madrid’s Aguero has certainly been a catalyst for the return to form that saw him become the star striker of surprise Bundesliga Champions Wolfsburg.
It remains to be seen what Kenny Dalglish has planned for Jordan Henderson. A player who excelled in a central role for Sunderland arrives at a Liverpool who already have their central creative outlets. Shunned out wide and replacing the industrious Dirk Kuyt, Henderson has found that his hefty price tag isn’t the only thing weighing him down at his new club.
Other than Suarez, the only piece of business that has seemingly been an immediate success for Liverpool is the signing of Charlie Adam. The focal point of Blackpool’s valiant attempt to remain in the Premier League last season has managed to up his game almost effortlessly and slot into a midfield missing captain Steven Gerrard.
And with that comes “one for the future.” In City’s case it was Stefan Savic: a powerful and determined centre-back who just may be a little way off of forcing his way into the starting line-up. For Liverpool it’s the giant Sebastian Coates. A name not familiar to European football but a player who performed well at the Copa America, taking the award for Best Young Player of the tournament. Of course, the jury is still out on either of these two transfer gambles.
In the case of the strikers it might be surprising to praise City’s eye for a bargain, at least in comparison to the price tag of one of Liverpool’s January purchases. I suspect, at least for the immediate future, that the partnership of Aguero and Dzeko will be far more successful in achieving their club’s chosen targets for the end of the season.