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Recruitment by Committee: A Summer Transfer Strategy

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From one trauma to another, we shift our attention to the always entertaining and never stressful world of transfer windows.

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"Ian, I don't think we should pay £17 million for the 19 year-old midfielder from RKC Waalwijk."
"Ian, I don't think we should pay £17 million for the 19 year-old midfielder from RKC Waalwijk."
Clint Hughes

And now for something completely different from yesterday's recurring themes.

Transfer windows! Love 'em or hate 'em, they can come with the most tragic of abrupt departures, the most delightful bits of shrewd business, or, as is more often the case, something that falls a little bit more in the middle. Brendan Rodgers has had two transfer windows occupying either extreme, and as he prepares for his third and possibly tenure-defining window, Ian Ayre revealed that in the absence of a director of football, Rodgers won't be working in isolation nor having the final word on transfer targets.

"We have a head of analysis [Michael Edwards], a head of recruitment [Dave Fallows], a first-team manager, myself,” said Ayre. "All of those people are all inputting into a process that delivers what a director of football would deliver. 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 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."

Rodgers spoke to the new approach to scouting last month, saying the scouting team puts together lists at least three players deep for each position the club are looking to fill, but this is the first time it's been made clear that final decisions will be made by a committee. Four heads are better than one, apparently, and so far it seems to be working given the arrival of the immediately impactful Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho.

Ayre was quick to stress that the statistical models the team are utilising to identify targets around the globe haven't supplanted good old-fashioned in-person scouting — "it’s not a whole bunch of guys sitting behind a computer working out who we should buy" — and that using both quantitative and qualitative recruitment strategies allows the club to do better business in the transfer market.

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

A few over-spent transfer windows have obviously left some of the powers that be feeling a little burned, but the club's dedication to reducing the team's wage bill and keeping it small through new incentive-based contracts should move the fees component of each transfer in a positive direction.

Yesterday's dramatics won't do much to temper what has the potential to shape up to be a hand-wringing, teeth-gnashing transfer window, but there can be some reassurances that if there's not one single person in charge of transfers then surely Ian Ayre will not be the sole arbiter of negotiations with potential targets.