Torres: A little bit of history repeating
JOHN ANTHONY on how we've been here before . . .
LIVERPOOL fans have had to put up with the "you're not a big club any more" jibes ever since Graeme Souness's disastrous bootroom revolution in the early nineties.
Within a year, we went from a bastion of invincibility to a basket case - but even then we didn't lose our best players to other English clubs.
Granted, they weren't forming a queue to take Mark Walters but we still had plenty of world-class talent on the books. Other English clubs knew there was little point in even trying to poach our talent - everywhere after Liverpool was a step down, even in those difficult times.
Should Fernando Torres use the lack of Champions League football as a lame excuse for a massive payday with Chelsea, we will have lost our star striker in his peak for the first time since Ian Rush packed his bags for Turin 25 years ago. (I'm playing the injury card with Michael Owen).
Fans were gutted - this 12-year-old author was gutted - as replacing Rush was a seemingly impossible task. There was nobody in the reserves showing a lot of promise and Paul Walsh's six goals in Rush's final season - compared to the great man's 40 - didn't inspire confidence.
It was the end of an era, Liverpool couldn't hold on to its stars any more, manager Kenny Dalglish would never find another 40-goals a season man. But Dalglish used the departure of Rush as the catalyst for bringing in some of the best forward talent Anfield has ever seen.
It's difficult to compare but the £3.2million Juventus paid for Rush at the end of the 86-87 season had the same sort of impact as the £40m or so Torres would bring in today. Dalglish knew the fans were aghast and knew he had to bring in quality to replace the lost goals.
But he didn't go for the obvious - he didn't go for Clive Allen who banged in 33 league goals that season for example. The first £750,000 of that money brought John Aldridge from Oxford - one of the best transfer deals of all-time. Within months, that deal was topped in terms of value by paying £900,000 for John Barnes from Watford.
The ink was barely dry on that contract when Peter Beardsley followed for £1.9m from Newcastle. Off-loading Paul Walsh to Spurs for £500,000 (the Ryan Babel of this story) meant there was enough in the locker to cough up £825,000 for Ray Houghton, again from Oxford.
So the end of one era quickly became a bright start to another brilliant chapter in the club's history. Can that happen again? Kenny has form for spending money wisely (ask any Blackburn fan as well if you want more evidence) so there's every reason to believe he could do it again - as long as he is made permanent manager so a proper plan can be put into action.
If Torres doesn't go then we've got a formidable front line but, if and when he leaves, Suarez has already been brought in. Fingers crossed that he's the new John Aldridge.
Should Nando go for the mooted £40m, with the Babel money, Kenny has another £25m burning a hole in his pocket - plus more pledged from FSG. That could see the likes of Ashley Young, Stewart Downing, Charles N'Zogbia, Charlie Adam and as yet unknown talent brought to the club.
Maybe those names don't have the cachet of a Torres but neither did Ray Houghton or John Aldridge - and they turned out OK. Let's not be in denial, losing Torres would be a massive blow but his departure could light the touch paper on the rebuilding process that is so badly needed at Anfield.
|Last Updated ( Monday, 31 January 2011 16:50 )|