Sometimes it's a sign of intelligence. But on other occasions it's a sign of panic. When Fenway Sports Group took over Liverpool, they opted for what some call the European model but is, in fact, the way most teams in most sports in most countries in every corner of the globe are run: one guy coaches the players and makes decisions on match day and another specialises in dealing with contracts and recruiting players to the club.
It was a decision some might want to debate, but, at the time at least, it looked like a commitment. Damien Comolli was the transfer guru, "King" Kenny Dalglish the inspir-ational boss. Both, of course, were sacked, but the early indication was that FSG believed in the system.
So much so, in fact, that it was cited as one of the reasons why negotiations with Roberto Martinez broke down: he was wary of joining a club where he didn't know who'd be buying his players.
But then, on June 1, the club made Brendan Rodgers uber-boss: no director of football in sight. Now, you can debate among yourselves which model is best, but a 180-degree turnaround generally isn't a sign of clear thinking. Was it a case of Rodgers making a name for himself as some kind of brilliant wheeler-dealer capable of unearthing rare talent in the transfer market that persuaded FSG to ditch their plan?
The jury is out on that one. Swansea drew accolades last season for their sparkling brand of football. Of their 11 most used players (by minutes played) six were signed during his two seasons at the club.
Michel Vorm, Scott Sinclair, Danny Graham and Leon Britton were bought by Rodgers (although Britton had previously spent eight seasons at Swansea) while Gylfi Sigurdsson and Steven Caulker arrived on loan.
It's not a bad strike rate, but hardly earth-shattering. If anything, it suggests Rodgers is very good at working with players and moulding them into an effective and entertaining unit without indicating he has any particular brilliance as a transfer guru. This summer, he has so far spent £27 million on Fabio Borini and Joe Allen, guys he has managed before, plus £3.3 million on Heerenveen winger Oussama Assaidi. Real Madrid's Nuri Sahin could join on loan while Fulham's Clint Dempsey is also a target, but neither really fits the "unearthed gem" category.
Of course, none of this will matter very much if he can do at Anfield what he did at Swansea, albeit writ large. Dalglish's predilection for technically gifted players should make his job easier, the problem is it's hard to see how the pieces fit into Rodgers' version of 4-3-3.
The putative midfield trio of Lucas, Allen and Steven Gerrard looks good on paper, but it remains to be seen whether the captain can make the kind of runs from midfield that Sigurdsson made and which are integral to the Rodgers model.
Borini and Assaidi (or Stewart Downing, whoever plays) are good wingers, though perhaps not yet Liverpool-calibre wide men (and in Downing's case, he may never get there). Most of all, up front, you have Luis Suarez, who is nothing like Graham, the man who led the line for him at Swansea. Good managers know how to adjust and Rodgers must be given time to make those adjustments. The immediate challenge will be finding a way to fit his two best players, Suarez and Gerrard, into a system that doesn't exactly seem tailor-made for their respective skill sets.
Rodgers exudes confidence and you wouldn't want to bet against him. But the road ahead is tough, as is the fixture list: after Manchester City today, Liverpool host Arsenal and Manchester United, with a trip to Sunderland in between. And it's not lost on anyone that the media is full of former Reds who also happen to be Dalglish loyalists (and often former team-mates of King Kenny).
Rodgers will be allowed a couple stumbles. After that, expect the screws to tighten.
Meanwhile, Rodgers' old club Swansea are flying high. Their 3-0 victory over West Ham yesterday means it's two wins with eight goals scored, none conceded: gaudy numbers. Especially when juxtaposed against the fact that in the summer the Welsh club lost three bona-fide starters in Caulker, Allen and Sigurdsson – the last two moving for a combined £25 million – as well as their manager
Nobody needs to get overly excited at this stage, but it does beg the question of whether it's the managerial genius of Michael Laudrup; whether Swansea happen to be brilliant at picking managers (they did also have a certain Roberto Martinez a few years back); or whether they're simply a very well run club who make a new boss's job that much easier.
My feeling is that it's a combination of the above, with an emphasis on the third factor. Perhaps Liverpool could have looked into prying Swans chairman Huw Jenkins loose along with Rodgers in a package deal.
Two new faces have been added to the Chelsea squad, Marseille right-back Cesar Azpilicueta and attacking midfielder Victor Moses from Wigan. You can see the logic with the former.
He turns 23 next week, has represented Spain at every level bar full international and did a decent job for Marseille. Branislav Ivanovic may be a cult hero, but he's a recycled central defender and, with Jose Bosingwa gone, Chelsea needed a specialist in that role. Plus, £7 million is a decent price.
Moses is harder to figure out. He's a gifted player who, at 21, is just harnessing his considerable talent. But he's also a winger/second striker hybrid and, given that Chelsea play one up front, he'll likely need to find playing time on the wing. And with Ramires,
With Marko Marin, Juan Mata and Florent Malouda already at the club – plus Eden Hazard who can play wide, plus Yossi Benayoun and Gael Kakuta who are still around – that may be hard to come by.
Here's hoping he won't be on the Romelu Lukaku development plan this year, the one whereby you pay £20 million for a player and give him a grand total of 165 Premier League minutes.
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