Liverpool have been hugely successful in recent years whilst sticking to a financial structure but handing Mo Salah a new contract will force them down a new path
In the aftermath of Old Trafford’s Seismic Sunday there was only one story in town.
How out of his depth the Manchester United manager was and how soon he should go.
The Glazers must have been almost relieved the drama wasn’t about them, bearing in mind the last time Liverpool turned up their own fans laid siege to the ground, exploiting the Super League debacle to try to drive them out.
In fact one of the Brothers Grim may have been tempted to tell the hordes who fled at half-time: “we’ve given you everything you asked for since then, and now we’ve thrown in a historic result that harks back to 1895 when the lads wore your blessed green and gold, but you’re still not happy.”
Liverpool’s role in their biggest win against their deadliest rivals since they were called Newton Heath was an afterthought, the chosen narrative being the demolition job was inevitable because Jurgen Klopp going toe-to-toe with Solskjaer is the biggest mismatch since Muhammad Ali whupped Richard Dunn.
Even though, before kick-off, most of us expected another frantic derby that would hinge on the odd moment of brilliance or naivety.
Liverpool did deserve more credit for that historic performance especially after a titanic battle away to Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid days earlier, but players and fans were too ecstatic to complain. And in Boston the owners were no doubt congratulating themselves on their cute moneyball model once again seeing off their clueless compatriots who hose down every problem with cash.
But they shouldn’t get too smug. If United are being asked what kind of club they see themselves as, in an era of when state-sponsored wealth has left them trailing, another display of genius from Mo Salah highlighted how Liverpool face the same question.
The Egyptian’s demand for a salary hike to £450k-a-week presents Liverpool with a huge dilemma.
Do they smash their wage structure to keep happy someone who will be 30 next June or cash in and keep the ship steady?
On current form, as Salah breaks every scoring record in front of him, and his manager and team-mates anoint him the world’s best player, there appears to be only one answer.
According to football’s money experts there are eight United players, and one at Liverpool, who currently earn more than Salah’s £200k-a-week.
Yet he’d be the first name on either teamsheet. Cristiano Ronaldo is obviously a special case but David De Gea’s £375k-a-week salary puts Salah’s demands into perspective.
Any sane observer would agree that one of the world’s best strikers should be earning more than the United keeper.
Especially when, like Ronaldo, he has a discipline and a physique which suggests he could play at the top of his game into his mid-30s.
What would it cost Liverpool to sign and tie down another player of such world-class calibre for the next five years?
Yet the model under FSG is one of self-sustainment. They will pay top salaries, hence having one of the highest wages bills in Europe, but won’t give players whatever money they demand, as Gini Wijnaldum discovered.
And looking at United’s recent spending (Alexis Sanchez anyone?) FSG would argue theirs is the wise route to success.
Who is currently the best manager in the world?
So what do they do with Salah?
He threw the ball firmly at them by announcing last week that he was happy to sign for life but that his future “depends on what the club wants, not me.” It is Liverpool’s question to answer.
For years they have aspired to be a destination club for the world’s best players but the likes of Fernando Torres and Luis Suarez told them they weren’t. Well here’s their chance to lay down a marker.
If they can barter Salah’s agent down to a slightly better wage than the one earned by the keeper he put three past on Sunday, they should bite his hand off.