x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Merseyside derby reflects shift in power

It is no coincidence that Mersey's derby day arrives with Everton already six points and a third of the table ahead of the Liverpool.

David Moyes and Everton welcome Liverpool in the Premier League.
David Moyes and Everton welcome Liverpool in the Premier League.

It is extremely safe to say that David Moyes has not adorned his residence with an immense self portrait. Nor should we expect to see Robert Elstone, the Everton chief executive, cruising the streets of Liverpool atop a Harley Davidson chuntering "mid-life".

Credit to Liverpool's American owners for delivering such revealing images of Brendan Rodgers and Ian Ayre in their continuing television documentary. There is no doubt that Being Liverpool provides both compelling television and unusual insight on a major Premier League club. It will have contributed to the recently restricted transfer funds available to Liverpool's somewhat narcissistic manager.

Whether if offers much else of benefit to its subject matter remains to be seen. From Jamie Carragher's pained features as he is filmed discussing Rodger's new regime, through the quizzical looks as manager confronts his team with envelopes supposedly containing the names of three players who "will let us down this year", there are moments many would prefer to have remained private.

The series is symptomatic of where Liverpool are these days. When Fenway Sports Group won a court battle to purchase the club in October 2010 the idea was to quickly return it to Champions League contest, ride the advantages Uefa's Financial Fair Play allowed clubs with the kind of historic, global appeal Liverpool has, and resume competing for the Premier League.

Instead the club has regressed. An inherited ill-fitting manager - Roy Hodgson - was sacked and replaced on popular acclaim by an individual who did not fit the Americans strategy.

While Chelsea were cleverly fleeced of £50 million (Dh295m) for the declining and divisive presence that is Fernando Torres, that windfall was squandered on players who did little to improve the squad.

Increasingly under pressure from fellow investors to demonstrate that Liverpool was actually the profitable asset he had sold it to them as, principal owner John W Henry indulged in the sacking of Damien Comolli, his own choice as Director of Football in April. A few months later Kenny Dalglish took the next bullet.

Henry changed his personal advisers on football, went into a crucial summer transfer window without any senior scouts, then selected Rodgers as the first self-generated managerial appointment of the FSG era. Anyone who had tracked the Northern Irishman's career realised it was a risky one for both parties.

For all Rodgers' fine results building on Roberto Martinez's groundwork at Swansea City and comfort expounding his philosophies to the media, the 39-year-old had failed to convince many he has worked with. Liverpool was a huge step up.

It is no coincidence that Mersey's derby day arrives with Everton already six points and a third of the table ahead of the Liverpool. Everton have not had a transfer budget of any significance for several windows, yet have worked out ways of making the most of their resources.

A tour of their Finch Farm training ground is an impressive experience; the club presents itself as modern, efficient and focused. It is no coincidence that individuals like Steven Pienaar left for better-resourced, better-placed employers and missed the organisation and preparation they thrived on at Everton.

Now in his 11th successive season at Goodison Park, Moyes drives all of this.

"We've had to build the club on a steady incline and not spend fortunes and when it's slow, it can be hard for your supporters to take," he said recently.

"The other side of it is I do think, 'If we can achieve this without spending much, what could we do with a bit more?' If I have any nagging feeling it's, 'Come on, just give us a chance — another £10m or £20m. Could that make the difference for us?'"

It would be heresy on Merseyside, but it is hard not to wonder where Liverpool would be now had they employed Moyes a few years back. Out of contract next summer, the Scot may not be much longer for Everton but he can expect his next place of employment to be better furnished than Anfield.

sports@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE