Paul Joyce of the Daily Express spoke exclusively to us to reflect on the 2015/2016 season as well as discuss the summer transfer window.
Hello and welcome back to the Anfield HQ Members podcast, I am delighted to be joined back on with Paul Joyce of the the Daily Express…Paul I know you are in France right now with England so I do really appreciate you coming on with us.
It’s been a few weeks now since the season ended….those painful memories of a bitterly disappointing night in Basel…now that we’re heading towards the summer, looking back on the entire season how would you really sum it up on reflection?
I think the Europa League final sort of caused a lot of it really because up until half time in that game you would of said there had been an enormous amount of progress. Obviously the impact Klopp had made, getting to two finals and the way he was starting to get the best out of some players who previously, some people had been sceptical about.
It was all heading in the right direction and there was a real sense of momentum, but that second half has reposed all the questions which were already there. I just felt they needed to get across the line in that final and lift the trophy, but that second half, for me, has punctured a bit of the optimism, and it feels like there is a lot of work to do now.
The fact Liverpool got to two finals, but lost both and finished with a poor league positions, would you class the season as a failure?
I don’t know if you can class it as a failure….I think it’s obviously, with the change in manager, a lot went on last season, I don’t know if you can class the season as a failure. Historically you can say that whenever Liverpool don’t win a trophy it’s a failure, but in recent seasons the club just hasn’t done that enough.
I think the green shoots of a recovery were there, but by not getting over the line in the Europa League final it just feels like the momentum came to a shuddering halt. I know a lot of people say that not having Europe to focus on, not having Europe to complicate things next season might help the premier league campaign as it did in 2014, but I just felt the final was a chance for Liverpool to re-establish themselves, but they let that slip in a manner which we thought Klopp had eradicated really. I wouldn’t say it was a failure, I think that’s quite harsh giving that the manager came in last October, but I do feel the progress has been checked a little bit by that final game.
It’s been a whirlwind last 12 months or so for Liverpool Football Club, and as we approach what looks to be another summer of change under Jurgen Klopp at Anfield it it does seem like silly season has already begun…but first things first are you expecting a busy summer window under Klopp in terms of incomings?
I’m not too sure really. I remember last summer, every summer seems to be this window of change, but at some point it becomes self-defeating as you can’t have 8 players in, 8 players out, 16 different transfers every summer. I don’t think it’s going to be as man players coming in as maybe we’ve seen in previous seasons.
I think there’s questions marks on a few players like Skrtel, Benteke, if Joe Allen has a good euros what does he want to do as he will want to be playing regular football. Mignolet? If he doesn’t start the season what will happen with him? I think there’s more issues on outs really than in’s, and also it will be interesting to see what happens with the likes of Markovic and Alberto, because I think Liverpool have to be careful with the size of the squad this year because they have not got the game to support a massive squad in some ways.
I think that was the downside of not qualifying for Europe next season, when are a lot of these players going to play? They don’t want to sell Joe Allen for less than £10m so he could still be here when the season starts again. Lucas Leiva as well, what do you do with him?
Liverpool have already signed Joel Matip on a free transfer and Loris Karius from Mainz….plus Marko Grujic will link up with his new squad in pre-season…were you happy with those pieces of business?
I have to be honest, I don’t know massive amounts about the players, it’s young players coming in from abroad again which is obviously a policy Liverpool have done before. I think we have to give the players a chance to settle in this time as we tend to judge players quickly at Liverpool, but how much they are going to improve the squad and improve the team remains to be seen. That’s the big thing, it’s a big season for Liverpool…all the other teams are going to improve so it’s another season whereby they are going to have to get the transfers right.
I think what’s interesting is Klopp is obviously going to a market that he knows in Germany, and for all the focus there has been on pre-season and the training ground, I still think like any other manager Klopp’s going to be defined by how he does in the transfer market. I think that’s going to be the making of him at Liverpool…can he and the club get the signings right that perhaps the club hasn’t got right since 1990. Liverpool are always looking for the last piece of the jigsaw, and even though we’re not looking for the last piece now, I think Klopp will be defined by the signings that he makes.
Talking of looking at a market he knows….Mario Götze…was heavily linked with a move to Liverpool before the season finished, but it looks like he’s prepared to fight for his place at Bayern Munich, how would you really sum up Liverpool’s pursuit of Götze?
I think they would do, they have done and would still do everything they can do to get the player, and I just think he’s come out with comments now, but lets see what the situation is towards the end of the summer. Bayern have made it pretty clear that he’s not going to play, is his stance going to be the same towards the end of the window? The problem is then, what do Liverpool do in the meantime?
It’s a bit like Arsenal and Vardy…do they just wait for the player in the hope he will make him mind up and come to you in the end or do you pursue other targets? Klopp will know Götze better than most and he will be able to judge that for himself, and obviously Sadio Mané is somebody that they are also interested in. It’s one I feel could still be resurrected at some point. I just think what Götze is feeling at the end of May might not be what he feels at the end of August, can he afford another season where he’s not really playing?
Do you think the European Championships will play a big part in player’s decision making?
Yeah I think do, I think Joachim Löw said it’s important for him not to be sidetracked by club issues which is similar to the situation Vardy’s in. If he has a great Euros, does that suddenly change Bayern’s thinking, does it generate more interest in him. I think in a way it doesn’t benefit Liverpool, but I think it’s sensible from the player, to go to the Euros, see how that pans out and take stock of your options then. I don’t necessarily think it’s feasible for him to stay at Bayern for another year. It’s been made clear to him he can go basically…so maybe he will just reappraise the situation after the Euros and see what transpires then.
It came out last week that Liverpool were considering Sadio Mané at Southampton as an alternative to Mario Götze ….is he the type of player who would really suit Klopp’s system?
I’ve only really seen bits of him, obviously he did well against Liverpool when they lost 3-2, but there will always be alternative targets to the main one, and if Götze is intent on not coming to Liverpool then I suppose Mané is somebody who knows the premier league. To be honest, it’s a little bit underwhelming, me speaking personally, but Klopp’s obviously seen some things in him that he thinks will fill into the team.
It doesn’t seem like Liverpool are even in for a striker, the willingness to buy one doesn’t seem to be there….there’s a lot of competition for places already with Coutinho, Firmino, Ings coming back, Sturridge will stay it seems like, Origi impressed Klopp, as well as Lallana. For me personally I would see midfield more of a priority than strengthening the position.
Yeah one of the name linked with Liverpool to fill a midfield roll is Mahmoud Dahoud at Borussia Monchengladbach, can you see Gladbach wanting to sell another one of their main midfielders?
Well no, the move from the lad to Arsenal will complicate it, they wont want to lose two key players in the same summer. That’s another battle Liverpool will have to wage in the transfer market to get that one over the line. They will need some help from the lad to push the deal through at his end. Liverpool will presumably have the money because of the money the club will have from the premier league this season, so I don’t necessarily think it will come down to money, I think it will be the willingness from Gladbach to sell and how much will Dahoud be prepared to push it through himself.
The only other area which Liverpool fans desperately want to see strengthened is the left-back position…linked with Ben Chilwell at Leicester…as well as Hector at Köln…do you see the left -back area a position Klopp will want to strengthen sooner rather than later?
Yeah I think he will be looking to strengthen it and the primary target is Chilwell at Leicester City, but as you said there’s not a lot of deals getting done at the moment. He is their first choice target and it is just a question of Liverpool and Leicester negotiating really. There is a keenness for the transfer to get done, but people are away from the club at present and these sorts of things tend to get strung out.
Leicester won’t want to make it easy, so that could be something which is dragged out a little bit. Obviously you want to get the players in as soon as possible but that is complicated by the Euros, not in this case but in transfers in general. I suppose Liverpool have already got the three players lined up in Grujic, Karius and Matip. The Chilwell one is interesting as it’s obviously another youngster…is he really ready to come into the premier league and start each week and challenge Moreno? I find it interesting that they are going down that route, but I think negotiations on that will probably get ressurected sooner rather than later.
The transfer window is never as straight forward as people thing….but with so many of our rivals strengthening at the moment, many reds fans especially on social media are beginning to worry that the Reds are missing out, wasting time, falling behind…do think that’s justified?
I’m sure they are doing everything they could to support Klopp, obviously they tried to get Teixeira in January and that didn’t happen. I think it comes down to proven players against potential players. I think Klopp must be happy with what the club is trying to do so I think we just have to wait and see. I have got reservations about whether they are strengthening enough, but we are only in the first week of June, and I think we have learnt in the past, you’ve got to save judgement until the 1st of September. Until then, there’s three months yet of work to be done.
I am sure they are always looking for players and they are doing the work behind the scenes, we just have to wait and see what transpires. I must admit from a personal point of view, I do wonder how much certain players are going to improve the team, but we have to wait and see for that.
You can find Paul on Twitter: @pjoyceexpress