As has become the case in recent years, transfer deadline day was a quiet affair for Liverpool.
With no more players arriving, Wednesday was all about shifting some of the remaining fringe players in the form of Luis Alberto, Andre Wisdom, Mario Balotelli and Lazar Markovic.
This summer has seen unprecedented levels of player sales at Anfield, with fourteen leaving on a permanent basis for a combined total of around £75m (potentially rising to £85m with add-ons).
In fact, when the dust settled, Liverpool were one of only four clubs to actually make a profit from “the most sensational transfer window of all time” (© Sky Sports) – the other three being Everton, Swansea and the artfully thrifty Southampton.
Apparently, this is now a problem. The fact that Liverpool have recouped more than they have spent has become another stick to beat owners FSG with, as everyone else goes on a dizzy, TV money-fueled binge of wild financial extravagance.
Whatever about the issue of left-back (and that will remain an issue until James Milner comes up to speed with the role or, indeed, if Alberto Moreno improves), the net spend argument a major red herring.
Had Loris Karius cost £20m instead of £4.5m, would that have been better? If Joel Matip cost the £15m that tranfermarkt.com values him at instead of signing on a free, or indeed if they hadn’t received quite such high fees for the likes of Christian Benteke, Joe Allen or Jordon Ibe, would that have made it a better summer’s worth of business?
A recklessly high net spend figure does not automatically equal success, and one only has to point at the hundreds of millions of pounds wasted at Manchester United in the immediate post-Ferguson years as evidence of that.
Liverpool spent almost £70m this summer, more or less in line with the likes of Spurs and Leicester, £20m less than Arsenal, and the same as Chelsea before, for reasons known only to themselves, they spent £55m on Marcos Alonso and David Luiz on deadline day.
The issue seems to be one of money spent rather than players recruited, which is endemic of a lot of English football fans now. A lot of fans are only happy when their club are signing players, as if the beginning of the Premier League season last month was just a break in play from the real entertainment being played out on Sky Sports News.
Deadline day itself has become a horrible spectacle, a perverse ode to the gratuitous amount of wealth being thrown around in England’s top division – a nameless Sky drone can barely contain his glee as he stands next to an ever-increasing total on a garish yellow background, while the rest of Europe looks on, amused and horrified in equal measure.
This isn’t what Klopp signed up for last October, and he simply won’t be a part of it. He is a motivator and a tactician, as far as he is concerned his entire remit is to coach his players rather than look for expensive ways to replace them.
Was that not the whole point of bringing in Klopp in the first place? Liverpool lucked out last year when they convinced him to move to Anfield, a man who has cultivated a career out of upsetting the odds with limited resources. Spending shedloads of money has never been his style, so why would he start now?
He is one of the finest motivational managers in the game today – if he believes that Milner can be retrained as left-back then he at least deserves the opportunity to see how that pans out.
The lack of a new left-back was obviously disheartening for a lot of Liverpool fans but if Klopp says that he couldn’t find the right (and available) one for his system then that has to be taken at face value. He’s not going to sign Jonas Hector or Jetro Willems just for the sake of it, and nor should he be expected to.
The money that came in from the player sales doesn’t have to be spent just because it was there.
Liverpool have made way too many costly mistakes over the past few years that, by now, one would think they should be commended for not wading in and signing players for vastly inflated sums just to give the Sky reporter outside Melwood on deadline day something to excitedly crow about.
This isn’t Football Manager.
Over the past twelve months, both Leicester and Portugal have given fantastic examples of how a system can be more important than the players within it, beating teams that, on paper, should be stronger than them and coming away with silverware at the end of it.
Have we learned nothing from that?
Klopp and Liverpool will spend what they feel they need to, when they feel they need to. In the meantime, rather than decry the manager for not spending £150m in the window, see how he does with the tools now at his disposal.