In Depth

Klopp needs time to untangle Liverpool's transfer mess

Former manager Brendan Rodgers paints himself as a victim of Anfield's transfer committee, but Klopp must avoid the same fate

Defeat to arch rivals Manchester United and comments about Liverpool's notorious transfer committee have upped the pressure on manager Jurgen Klopp, who has been tasked with restoring order and bringing success back to the club.

Fresh from losing 1-0 defeat at home, the Reds were hit by previous coach Brendan Rodgers's comments to Sky Sports that he did not have the "final say" on transfers during his time as Liverpool manager. As an example, he revealed how he had wanted to buy Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona in the summer of 2014, but had to sign AC Milan's Mario Balotelli instead.

Transfers, he said, had been a "group decision" and the purchase of Balotelli, even though he was not the kind of player Rodgers wanted, was sanctioned because the owners believed they could make a tidy profit on him and "thought this was perhaps a player I could develop".

Not everyone is convinced by Rodgers's lament. He has chosen to "paint himself as a victim of Liverpool’s transfer strategy rather than as someone who should take his share of the blame for the things that have gone wrong", says Tony Barrett of The Times. But it is worth listening to his comments: "Where Rodgers has a legitimate point is that it has been several years since Liverpool last had a team in keeping with their manager's vision."

It is a legacy of muddled thinking that is undermining the club. Against Manchester United on Sunday, Klopp cut an animated figure on the sidelines. "At first this was interpreted as passion, then anger, then provocation," says Barney Ronay in The Guardian. "Perhaps he’s just really, really confused."

It would be no surprise if he was feeling bewildered, the journalist continues: "And not just by the conflicting qualities of the group of players he has inherited. But by the structures and governance of a club that has, in a brilliant coup, managed to hire one of the most desirable managers in Europe; and then, in the opposite of a brilliant coup, presented him with one of the weirdest, most ill-fitting squads in recent Premier League history.

Klopp is trying to play "power-chord football" with a "collection of mandolins, harpsichords and broken ukuleles", adds Ronay.

"The real measure will come a year or so on from the expected purge at the end of the season," he says.

Liverpool must learn from their mistakes if they are to prosper under Klopp, agrees Barrett of The Times. "The team that Klopp builds has to be his own," he says. "[It] means that his influence on the recruitment process has to be greater than Rodgers's was and that the blueprint he puts in place is adhered to without deviation or compromise."

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