Another poor result at the weekend and not many punters predicted a win for Wigan at Anfield so there will plenty of burnt fingers in betting shops throughout the country. That loss meant that the bookies cut the odds of Kenny Dalglish being the next managerial casualty this season to just 13/2 from 20/1 but whatever happens in that respect is likely to happen in the summer so those odds make no appeal whatsoever. In the short term Liverpool face Newcastle at St James Park on Sunday and it’s certainly not going to be an easy game.
The bookies just about make Liverpool the favourites to win this match despite current form, Liverpool can be backed at 6.4 at the time of writing whilst Newcastle are slightly bigger at 19/10 best odds currently. The draw is priced up at 12/5 for those thinking neither team can pick up a win here. Newcastle come into this match on the back of a great 3-1 win at West Brom and that means Newcastle have earned almost three times as many points as Liverpool have from their last seven league games, Newcastle have eleven points in that time frame whilst Liverpool have managed just four.
The head to head record at St James Park between these two teams show a mixed record for both teams but certainly show why the Sky TV cameras will be at the match with high scoring matches a regularly occurrence between the teams. Last season the score was 3-1 to Newcastle whilst the season before Liverpool won this match 5-1 and 3-0 the season before that. That means the last five games between these teams at St James Park have all had over 2.5 goals and have produced a total of twenty goals. Over 2.5 goals is priced up at evens with some bookies and that is currently looking a good bet whilst over 3.5 goals should also be contemplated at 5/2.
If this game is to be high scoring the most likely winning scoreline for Liverpool could be a 2-1 win, that was last the score in this match in 1997 and is available at 17/2. The 3-1 win also looks worth taking under consideration and was a winning bet in 2006, 3-1 is 22/1 with some bookies at the time of writing. Meanwhile a high scoring draw would produce a bet at big odds, 2-2 is available at 14/1 ahead of this match whilst 3-3 is 80/1. If you fancy a repeat of the amazing 4-3 matches at Anfield in the 90s then you are looking at odds of 100/1 and with those games still relatively fresh in many fans’ minds that bet is sure to be popular this week.
This weekend we play Newcastle in a game that seems like the perfect opportunity to compare our front sixes as 6th meets 7th.
I’ve looked over the midfielder’s and attackers from both teams and the attitude in which they were bought is abundantly similar, they were risks. Liverpool went with their fair share of unproven but promising talent, and Newcastle, well they went for some players that would have been deemed ‘injury prone’ by knee jerk fans at first glance. Alan Pardew and his team of scouts went with quality players with something to prove, they possessed injury records that could put off many other clubs but injury records that would keep them ‘cheap’. So what about Kenny Dalglish and Damien Comolli? Well they bought bold and British, all of the players they bought had to step up very quickly or risk being hung out to dry.
So lets see how the two clubs transfers compare.
Liverpool: (I’ve gone with 6 that have been regulars to form a 4-4-2 formation)
Henderson – 16 million
Gerrard – (academy product)
Adam – 5 million
Downing – 20 million
Suarez – 23 million
Carroll – 35 million
TOTAL: 99 million
[sidenote: I understand we brought money in from deals such as Fernando Torres, but I'm focusing on what we spent and where we spent it, and just because you have the money that doesn't mean you should spend it straight away]
Ben Arfa – 6 million
Cabaye – 4.5 million
Tiote – 3.5 million
Jonas – 5 million
Cisse – 9 million
Demba Ba – Free
TOTAL: 28 million
So we’ve spent 71 million pounds more on our acquisitions noted and we’re going into Sundays game 8 points behind them, with 8 games left. Of course you can place a few arguments of “but we had to spend big to achieve a top four finish”, I’m not sure when that became a rule, obviously it helps, but if you spend your money in the right places then there’s no doubt you’ll benefit, spend it in the wrong places, and well you become a laughing stock. You can also argue it’s a matter of budget, “It’s ok because we had 100 million to spend” It doesn’t seem like great business by FSG to spend all the money you have in the first year of purchase unless you can guarantee return. We saw in January when we quite evidently needed a striker that either a player wasn’t available, we thought it wasn’t an issue or it’s quite possible that John Henry and crew didn’t trust Dalglish and Comolli to spend again, just a theory. Newcastle went out and bought Papa Demba Cisse and he already has the same amount of goals that Andy Carroll and Dirk Kuyt have produced all season. Worrying.
Just because I’ve named players in my article it does NOT mean I am blaming them for their price tags, their respective clubs set the limits, and rather than assessing our options and looking abroad, we bit their hands off. 5 of the 6 players Liverpool bought were British, none of the 6 Newcastle bought were. If you’re qualifying for European competition the amount of British players you have at your disposal is important, but that implies we’re going to qualify for Europe every year and if it wasn’t for Liverpool’s Carling Cup win, I reckon we’d be panicking a lot more than we are right now. 2 points off a chasing pack that includes Sunderland and Everton. Worrying.
In summary, it goes without saying that I’m behind the management and the players 100% every game, the problem is we’ve planned for seasons ahead when what really matters is the right here, right now. Liverpool Football Club can’t really afford to be out of the Champions League, and the longer this transfer plan continues the chances of us getting back in it will look slimmer every year. We have to give Kenny another crack next season and then address the situation this time next year, fans calling for his head will be the same fans giving Chelsea abuse for their owner Roman Asackhimquick (yeah I’ve just made that up) doing exactly what his name suggests.
So I like to leave a question at the end of my articles to infuse debate rather than argument.
Question:Are you happy planning for the future with our long term project or would you rather see us find a quick fix for Champions League football and risk another 100 million? For me I’m split on it, but what about you?