Buy! Buy! Buy! A Great Deal of Thought

January 31, Any Year. Tempers flare, heads go, spirits lift, hearts break, such is the carousel of the January transfer market. In short, people lose their motherfucking minds. And do so every. Single. Year.

January’s song. The lure of promise to the rocks of despair. Where informed men will talk for hours about someone that they really know close to nothing about. Informed opinions, all. Coz, you know, YouTube.

YouTube. The scouting report for the unwashed. Where definitive evidence as to why a player will surely set the league ablaze is stored. That two-and-a-half minute window into their ability is roughly the same amount of time they will have to prove themselves when actually on show. Minus the dubstep back beat.

Fans are like magpies come January—they love a shiny thing or two. The thrill of a new face with a new skill set that brings the promise of even bigger shiny things in May. Should it lose that shine, June is just around the corner.

The “we need to buy if we wanna stay competitive” lot are great too.

Dear FSG,

We can win the league this year. All we need is a left back, a center back, a defensive midfielder, a pacey winger and a boss striker who scores a lot of goals. Also, don’t worry about FFP. It’s all bollocks.

Yours,

A Concerned LFC Fan

PS I have a couple of ideas about whom you should get. But I’m sure your selections will be great. However, if you are looking at Memphis DePay, don’t. He’s shite

There might not even be a clue as to who fits the bill, it is just known that someone of great skill is needed in a Red jersey and on the frontline (or bench) coz the squad is “woefully thin” in that position. At any cost. At all costs.

Of course, the Demos will bow in deference to the warm body that the powers-that-be select, until such time as they don’t succeed at which point torches are lit and pitchforks sharpened. Blame is laid, scouting networks are questioned, net spend concerns reopened, heads lost.

And there’s the perennial argument around what is “too much” vs “savvy buy,” what is a “bust” vs an “incredible find.” For every Christian Benteke, there’s a Sadio Mane. For every Philippe Coutinho an Alberto Aquilani. For every transfer ying, there is a transfer yang. And everyone is right. In their own way. You’ll know, because they’ll tell you so.

Christ if only we had a formula for guaranteed transfer success and a fucking time machine. The stupidity of even writing this down is matched only by those that think January is somehow a season’s salvation. As evidenced by Fat Sam’s assertion.

There are so many intangibles that can wreck a transfer. Injuries, bust ups and attitudes, oh my! You know, human shit that happens in real life but isn’t allowed to happen on football pitches. Something as tangential as homesickness can scupper a career.

Does a mid-season transfer turn the tide of that particular season? I sure as fuck don’t know. But there is a guy that does. Writing for the Telegraph, after doing research across 10 years of winter transfers in the top flight, Jonathon Liew noted this on whether winter transfers actually work.

The only thing we can say with any certainty is that there is no correlation between January transfer activity and subsequent league performance. None at all. Zero.

But there is another important zero to consider. As in, the number of fucks given by fans. Because it could be that one signing that one time, which could be the one that helped you win the league. And if not, oh well, they’re consigned to the “maybe next year” bin. And they often are.

Yet Suarez almost got Liverpool to the Promised Land after getting a season under his belt. Mahrez actually did it. January signings both. Of course, you could always ask Newcastle fans about Tito Asprilla, too, though.

There are so many factors that dictate success or failure. “Bedding in” for one. Are they a fit in style, tactics or requirements in the short term is another. In some instances (as stated already) their influence will be pivotal.  But is anything other than the immediate future a consideration for fans on January 1? Not really, no. It’s promise they’re after, not long term progress.

Enter Herr Klopp whose long-term view could likely see the beginning of time as it loops back on itself. To think that he is opposed to buying in January is churlish. January or July, Klopp will buy if the value and fit is there to be had. But he isn’t going to buy just to have.

And that’s not an FSG thing. That’s a Jurgen Norbet Klopp thing. Train pushers, not jumpers, and all that.

Maybe he didn’t foresee this season being quite as successful as it has been. There are some pundits that would certainly agree with that (yes, you, Nevin!).

And with this success and the reality of the league win within touching distance, the rumblings from the Anfield faithful are more in favor of new blood to keep the dream alive.  There’s nothing like a string of dodgy results for the wailing, gnashing and rending to begin anew. Queue the froth and fume about the importance of good January intake being critical to success.

But for a club that is frenetically linked to any player with something resembling a pulse come December 1, there has been little to no meaningful buzz about incoming players this January. Much to Rob Gutmann’s (of The Anfield Wrap fame) chagrin. And the dismissive nature of Klopp would suggest that he’s ok with that. The lack of activity. Not Gutmann’s chagrin.

Of course, I could be talking absolute twaddle. So I’ll let him say it better:

“The past transfer window was busy, I don’t want them always to be this busy.
“Development doesn’t stop after one year, you should have more time. Success all around is about having consistency.
“Successful teams don’t have to change a lot; Liverpool don’t need to be a selling club.
“Nobody calls us and says ‘sell, we need money’, but it’s about finding the right squad.”

I’m actually pretty ok with Klopp being ok with it. He seems to know what he’s on about. He’s got some pretty cool shit in a cabinet that suggests he actually might. And there’s every chance that the Hindsight of May will be the anathema of January’s Song, but maybe, just maybe, it won’t. And we’ll all be gay. Well, most of us.

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