The 2005/06 season was one of Liverpool’s more successful of the early 2000s. Coming off a Champions League win, The Reds picked up a UEFA Super Cup and FA Cup, were runners up in the Club World Cup, and finished 3rd in the Premier League. Using the incredible 2006/07 database from The Mad Scientist, we join Liverpool at the start of the 2006/07 season, aiming to build the club into a domestic and European force, maybe slightly differently to how the club went about it in real life.
The biggest immediate difference between the Liverpool of this database, and the modern-day LFC, is finances: the club currently has just under £20m in the bank, and with transfer spend for the season already at £12m, i’ve got a transfer budget of £8m to bring in players I think i’ll need this season.
Of course, travelling so far back in time as a fan of the club is a real trip – especially looking at the board’s expectations and five year plan:
As you can see, the goals are pretty strenuous, and more in line with the performances fans would have wanted to see following the 2004/05 and 2005/06 seasons (ignoring that second Champions League final against Milan; that’s still painful to think about). My biggest issue at the moment is that the finances of the club don’t really match up with the level of performance they are looking for beyond this season – I’ll either have to sell to buy, or hope for massive profits from on-field activity.
In order to maximise how self-sustainable the club is, and maximise on-field performances, I have to get the maximum possible out of the squad, and avoid that almost inevitable squad bloat when I go insane buying South American wonderkids…
Anyway, away from the wonderkids – my plans for the save! Obviously the club’s 5 year plan informs most of the plan for the save, at least initially. It’s clear that the board have some very specific goals and plans for club, and i’ll have to meet those. However, what is left more open to me is how I plan to do that.
Firstly, the club has to become self-sustainable, at least for the near future. This means scaling back playing staff, and only buying to fill gaps where needed. I’ll try to look to the youth system before looking to bring someone in, and will prioritise player development as much as possible. This also serves the purpose of enabling me to get more to grips with team and individual training this year (I’ll admit, that’s been my assistant’s bag until now), and by keeping the squad small, i’m hoping dynamics will build faster and players will be kept happier even if having to rotate.
Secondly, where we do have to buy, I want to aim for value in the transfer market (so not stupid deals like £35m for Andy Carrol, etc); players who are either in or just before their peak, putting up numbers, and who have a sell-on value later. I’m not going to claim a ‘moneyball’ approach because it’s not that, but I want to be more shrewd in the transfer market than real-life Liverpool were in the period we’ve gone back to.
Thirdly, and probably most obviously – I want to win a title before 2020…