Liverpool: Preaching caution with all this money 3

ge-anfield

We’re led to believe that Luis Suarez will complete his move to Barcelona by the end of the weekend, which will mean that on Monday morning Liverpool will find themselves around £80m richer than they are today.

The temptation for the club, given what Suarez has contributed in pure footballing terms and given how close they came to the Premier League title last season, must be to spend the bulk of that cash on improving their squad.

That might be a mistake.

Liverpool were fantastic in 2013/14 and their run-in was one of the most memorable underdog surges in the division’s history, but it had a slightly anomalous feel to it.  Of course, Liverpool are certainly - as things stand - one of the top-four sides in the country, but assuming that they are now a de facto title contender is probably premature.

It’s important to remember where Liverpool have come from.  Before Brendan Rodgers arrived, they had spent multiple seasons as an also-ran within the division - Rodgers has essentially produced a quantum leap, and skipping steps in a recovery phase can sometimes be hazardous.

Regardless of new expectations, if Liverpool were to finish within the top-four this year then that would still constitute a successful season.  That has to be the mentally - and that’s where this Suarez revenue is relevant.

With Champions League qualification came an enormous new revenue source and, if the club can balance ambition with financial responsibility, they can potentially build to a situation where they have the resources to annually challenge Chelsea and Manchester City in the transfer-market.  Suarez’s sale obviously temporarily exaggerates their purchasing power, but there shouldn’t be any expectation on either John Henry or Brendan Rodgers to drain that income to fund a title-challenge.  It may be what the fans want, but it’s not necessary and it would make little sense within the context of the next five years.

Adam Lallana has arrived, Emre Can is now a Liverpool player and Rickie Lambert has been brought in to diversify the offensive options.  Those are, to varying degrees, useful signings and they have each made the first-team or the squad slightly stronger.  On top of that it’s reasonable to expect one or two more arrivals;  a central defender and a full-back are obvious requirements, and if Rodgers can improve those positions the side will be a heavy favourite to finish in that top-four.

And that’s really it.

What Liverpool have here, is the chance to a define a new era.  Spend responsibly, remain focused on younger players who are going to appreciate in value, and improve the standard of the first-team in small increments.  Forget about winning the Premier or Champions League, just seek to maintain the current level in the former and become a regular fixture in the latter.  This club is not owned by an Oligarch or a oil state, so they have to be wary of growing too quickly and of making big, expensive errors.  The usual rules of progress - which Chelsea and Manchester City can disregard - are applicable to Liverpool.

The smart move here is to hold as much money as possible back, to load the decks against the Financial Fair Play restrictions, and to make a proper assault domestically and in Europe in two or three years time.  From the outside Liverpool look extremely healthy and equipped to climb even higher, but they need to make sure that their base camp is in order before they start that final ascent.

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