Liverpool transfers: Ian Ayre lifts lid on recruitment strategy

Liverpool transfers: Ian Ayre rubbishes claims that the Reds are adopting a 'Moneyball' approach in the transfer market

brendan rodgers
Brendan Rodgers has spent over £50m on new players Photo: Back Page Images

Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre has rubbished claims the club’s owners are adopting a ‘Moneyball’ approach to the transfer market.

Fenway Sports Group, headed by John Henry and Tom Werner, have spent nearly £160m in an attempt to improve the Reds’ squad after buying the club in October 2010.

The Liverpool owners have been accredited with using the ‘Moneyball’ approach made famous by Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletic baseball team.

Beane’s use of strategy, which was formulated by American Bill James, centred on recruiting new baseball players for his franchise by using advanced statistical analysis to find undervalued talent in the market.

But Ayre revealed Liverpool’s recruitment process is a combination of both new and old, with Brendan Rodgers drawing up a list of targets which is then assessed by a team of analysts.

“I don’t think there was ever anyone at Liverpool using the word ‘Moneyball’, but plenty of other people were using it,” Ayre told Sports Illustrated.

“I think the reality is there were two phases to what’s happened since the change of ownership.

“In the first phase, like any major transaction of that type, we talked about the knowledge of soccer, and that takes time. So we probably spent a year with the owners taking a leap of faith to a certain degree of other people telling them what they should be doing.

“Within that year we then get to a situation where the dust has settled, and people start to see what is and isn’t working.”

He added: “I think the fundamental shift particularly around player acquisitions and disposals was that we took the view that it needs to be more of a science.

“Your biggest expenditure line can’t be the whim of any individual. What we believe, and we continue to follow, is you need many people involved in the process.

“That doesn’t mean somebody else is picking the team for Brendan [Rodgers]. But Brendan needs to set out with his team of people which positions we want to fill and what the key targets would be for that.

“He has a team of people that go out and do an inordinate amount of analysis work to establish who are the best players in that position. It’s a combination of things.

“Despite what people think and read, it’s not a whole bunch of guys sitting behind a computer working out who we should buy.

“It’s a combination of old-school scouting and watching players – and that’s Brendan, his assistants, our scouts – with statistical analysis of players across Europe and the rest of the world.

“By bringing those two processes together, you get a much more educated view of who you should and shouldn’t be buying. And perhaps as fundamentally, how much you should be paying and the structure to those contracts.”

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