FSG are already answering Liverpools big 2021 questions – Liverpool Echo

Underpromise and overdeliver.

It has been the FSG creed since they took over at Liverpool a decade ago.

Their stewardship of the club has left the Reds in a vastly better place as 2021 begins and memories of leveraged buyouts and Roy Hodgson finally start to fade.

The first big trophy of their reign was secured in June 2019 when Liverpool lifted the European Cup for a sixth time before the Reds added a Super Cup and Club World Cup last term, only to then go on and claim the club’s first Premier League title.

Landing Jurgen Klopp was a masterstroke that has paid off handsomely. The same can be said for backing and promoting Michael Edwards behind the scenes.

Michael Edwards and Jurgen Klopp.jpg 

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FSG’s actions on Anfield redevelopment have so far been successful with the gleaming new Main Stand already a monument to their legacy and their opening of a new world-class training facility in Kirkby is set to help Liverpool begin a dynasty.

Their financial transformation of the club continues apace too, with Nike now supplying the kit in a lucrative partnership while other major players such as AXA and Expedia have teamed up with the English champions.

But you can never stand still in football.

And Liverpool’s owners are well aware of that.

Because quietly, they are already answering the big questions facing the club for 2021 and beyond.

A FUTURE AFTER JURGEN KLOPP

(Image: John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

FSG made it clear in the days before Champions League glory in Madrid that they wanted Klopp at Liverpool for the long term.

At that time, the German’s existing deal was set to expire in 2022.

And chairman Tom Werner said back in June: “We don’t really want to discuss his situation publicly, especially so close to the final.

“But I think you know that we think the world of him. We have already extended his contract once.

“All I can say is that it’s obviously important that he stays for as long as he likes. We believe that he’s committed to Liverpool.”

Less than six months later, Klopp signed on the dotted line to take his Anfield tenure all the way up to 2024.

Should he stick around for the full length of the contract, it will be his longest stint in charge of a club so far in his career.

It was a big, bold move by FSG to get Klopp in the first place back in 2015.

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And the extended deal sent out another signal of how they have returned the Reds to the pinnacle of the global game.

Peter Krawietz and Pepijn Lijnders have also been signed up to continue their excellent work alongside the manager while on Tuesday, December 29, the Reds appointed a new performance and recovery backroom staff member in Klopp’s former Borussia Dortmund colleague Dr Andreas Schlumberger.

Now, should Klopp leave, there are people and plans in place to ensure Liverpool continue to compete for silverware and a smooth transition is made by any incoming manager – with the likes of Steven Gerrard at Rangers and Xabi Alonso at Real Sociedad B being monitored while coaches such as Lijnders are also ready to step in as a disciple of Klopp.

However, Klopp’s words when he agreed fresh terms show just how happy he is – and just how much the rest of England and Europe should fear what is being built at Anfield.

The boss said: “This club is in such a good place, I couldn’t contemplate leaving.”

The fact Klopp is happy and still bringing in staff then, clearly puts to bed any initial rumblings around who should replace the German boss when he eventually decides to move on.

Those questions can be safely tucked up now until well into this new decade but FSG will clearly be ready when they come.

ANFIELD ROAD AND KIRKBY

With the Main Stand now towering over the rest of Liverpool’s ground, attentions have turned to the Anfield Road end.

Last year, FSG outlined their vision to upgrade the stand to 16,000 seats to take the total Anfield capacity to 61,000.

Those plans were shelved in March this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, but now the Reds are set press ahead with the proposed expansion.

FSG are expected to formally submit a planning application to Liverpool City Council in the coming weeks and that will be welcome news to fans as the owners deliver on a long-term part of their strategy to help go some way to meeting demand and creating additional revenue streams through commercial activity.

The development is expected to be an 18-month build process with the work, as with the Main Stand, going on via a structure to the rear of the stand during the football season before the more intrusive work is carried out on during the summer months.

The work will come at an estimated cost of £60m.

Anfield Stadium redevelopment

Crucial progress is being made. And if the recent opening of the AXA Training Centre is anything to go by, it won’t be too long until we see yet more work being completed at Anfield.

Indeed, Liverpool bid a fond farewell to Melwood and moved their training centre to its new state-of-the-art Kirkby home on November 17.

Work on the AXA Training Centre too 722 to complete and Klopp and his players have been making full use of the £50m facility already this season.

The club believe it is one of the finest training complexes in world football and will hope it can give them a helping hand to start building at dynasty under FSG with Academy teams now in situ alongside the first-team and development accelerating for all involved with a big focus on the future.

LIVERPOOL’S SQUAD AND THE BIG CONTRACT DECISIONS

Klopp possesses a talent pool which is the envy of coaches among the footballing elite.

Champions of the world. European Cup favourites. Premier League title holders.

The first-team is formidable and the depth in the squad is strong. Week after week, the players are proving themselves to be truly special with performances at the highest level and a mentality unmatched in the face of serious injury problems.

And the club took a significant step in the summer to shore things up for the campaigns to come.

Diogo Jota, Thiago Alcantara and Kostas Tsimikas arrived at Anfield with the first hitting the ground running before being struck down by a difficult injury, the second is still waiting to get going after contracting Covid-19 and then suffering an impact injury but has shown glimpses of his world-class talent and, while the third was brought in to cover Andy Robertson, injury has put a temporary stop to him doing that job too.

*Take our 30-second Liverpool transfer survey and let us know what Jurgen Klopp needs to do in the January window.

It is, therefore, with injuries where one of three concerns still remain.

The other two are in future-proofing the playing roster as some top talents creep closer to 30 and preempting the spending response that will no doubt come from other Premier League teams if Liverpool’s dominance persists.

Talented young players in Curtis Jones and Rhys Williams are, perhaps, a partial answer to all three but the Reds must continue to strengthen from a position of strength.

That might be accelerating their plans to sign a senior centre-back in January or it might be time for the owners to start looking at contracts of big stars like Mohamed Salah to keep them at Anfield for the forseeable future because spending in this way and keeping hold of your best players, as they have done in the past, is just as important as bringing in new talent.

However, given the Reds plan their activity two transfer windows ahead, fans can be sure everything will be in place for next year to ensure the club stays at the top of the game.

OFF THE PITCH AND NIKE

(Image: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

FSG have overseen a significant transformation on the pitch at Anfield.

And helping steer the rapid rise of Klopp’s side is equally quick and impressive progress off the field.

Liverpool’s stadium redevelopment plans will see the Reds smash through the £100million per season barrier for matchday revenue.

The club’s value has soared to the point where it was recently valued at $2.2billion (£1.7bn) by Forbes.

After several successful years of partnership with New Balance, FSG took Liverpool’s kit supply to the next level.

It led to a High Court showdown over whether existing arrangements could be extended. And it was a battle that the owners eventually won.

That trial paved the way for a new five-year deal with Nike while the Reds have impressively managed to secure sponsorship deals with other major players.

AXA are the official sponsors of the new training ground and Expedia signed a lucrative £10m shirt sleeve sponsorship deal last month with Liverpool.

That has ensured FSG are maintaining a serious position of strength off the field while other huge clubs like Barcelona struggle financially in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Reds are expected to publish their accounts for 2019/20 early next year when any financial impact of lockdown will be shown, but given their very healthy finances last time around and the way FSG have implemented a robust financial business model to prop up on-pitch success, Klopp’s charges will continue to be a force on the pitch and the club will remain in rude health.

Underpromise and overdeliver.

It is a mantra that served FSG very well during the 2010s as the foundations of their Liverpool legacy have been laid.

Decisive answers are now being delivered to critical questions.

And everything looks perfectly set up for the owners, Edwards, Klopp and his squad to keep on overdelivering throughout the next decade too.

*The first draft of this article was published in December 2019.