At the start of the last English Premier League (EPL) season, I wrote on my personal blog, predicting Liverpool would win the league title. Many regarded this as quite daring but I failed to reason that way as I had my reasons for arriving at that conclusion. Even though Liverpool ended up winning the UEFA Champions League, they fell just short against a hugely talented Manchester City side, tinkered by a “magician” called Pep Guardiola and powered by immensely rich financiers.
My reason for choosing Liverpool was quite simple: their activity in the transfer market. And while many will swiftly try to ridicule my point by alluding to Fulham FC that got relegated despite hundreds of millions of pounds expenditure on acquisition of players, I must point out that there was a clear difference between both clubs’ transfer approach.
On one hand, Fulham, fresh from promotion to top-flight football, went into the transfer market like a bull in a China shop! All I could see was a club intoxicated by money. There was no real transfer strategy: they were merely buying any footballer who could properly wear a soccer boot! It was pure madness – no strategy, no plan.
Liverpool, on the one hand, started out by fixing key areas. They had previously agreed the purchase of Naby Keita from RB Leipzig to fill the void left by Phillippe Coutinho. What followed next was a masterstroke. They replaced Mignolet with Brazilian Allison who, at that point, was the most expensive goalkeeper until Chelsea’s Kepa came along. All of these, coupled with the earlier January addition of arguably the world’s best defender, Virgil Van Dijk, meant that they had effectively filled up all loopholes. Not to forget, bar injury concerns regarding Nabil Fekir, they would surely have added the former Lyon attacking midfielder to their ranks. This, to me, was one of the most calculated transfer activities I had ever witnessed since I could remember watching the beautiful game.
One other factor that made me arrive at my Liverpool conclusion was a similar strategy adopted by another English club in the past. In that instance, Chelsea FC was the club and their acquisitions were Fabregas and Diego Costa. In the previous season (before Chelsea’s acquisition of the above-named players), the then manager Jose Mourinho labeled his team as “little horses”. Fast forward the next season and the club addressed two key positions – central midfield and the center forward. What followed was a telepathic, if not spiritual, understanding between Fabregas and Costa, where the former bombarded the forward line with one quality pass after another, and the latter simply obliging with one quality goal after another. It was a sort of “theatre of dreams” but one that was well orchestrated and thought out before execution. The result was another EPL trophy in the club’s trophy cabinet.
Naturally, I thought Liverpool would replicate that feat, little did I know that they would do one better by conquering Europe! At the end, win or lose, readers kept lining up, applauding and hailing me, not just for my bravery, but, also, my in-depth calculations. I must confess, I did start to feel my shoulder push up a little higher as I reveled in the moment! I guess I have never fully recovered from the feeling of appraisal, hence this article.
This season has already begun, with a lot of varied success in the transfer market for all English clubs concerned. For one, the ban imposed on Chelsea FC has put to bed any aspirations of them adding to their ranks. The other teams have added one or two, though nothing as prolific as the previous summer transfer window where huge monies were splashed. After a hard and long thought on the matter, I can now proudly stake my money on Chelsea FC winning the league.
I can already hear sections of persons laughing their bellies out at the very thought of it, but I advise those sections to take a break from the comedy session and hear my argument. Well, not right away; in the second part of this article, I will do justice and probably convince some persons along the way. While the thought of a ‘rookie’ coach like Frank Lampard winning the EPL in his first season at top-flight management doesn’t seem to add up, remember the same happened to another young ‘rookie’ coach in Andre Villas Boas, who, without any top-flight managerial career, arrived FC Porto, won the league and cup double. And trust me, the sky didn’t fall!
Until then, I admonish you to watch out for the second part of this article. For the main time, though, enjoy the opening games of the season, but don’t be too presumptuous while at it. I, however, wish all football club fans all the best of luck in the new season. Enjoy.