“It is far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price”.
Famous words uttered by one of the richest men on the planet, Mr Warren Buffett, who also goes by the moniker “The Oracle of Omaha”. Buffett is shrewd investor who has made billions investing in the right businesses at the right price – naturally, he has invested in some lemons along the way but that is part of the process of being human and his hits far outnumber his misses.
If one were to substitute the word “company” with “Andrew Thomas Carroll”, and if Mr Buffett was a football team manager or owner, he would have steered well clear of the transaction that took Andy Carroll from Newcastle United to Liverpool for the princely sum of £35 million.
There are some wonderful footballers plying their trade in the world at the moment – the likes of C. Ronaldo, Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, van Persie, Mata, Pirlo and Fabregas who conjure their magic on a weekly basis with moments that take the breath away. Then we have the fair footballers – guys who’ve had to work hard to get to the elite stages of top class football. These guys have put in the hours and now rub shoulders with some of the wonderful players described above.
Let’s be honest here – even Andy Carroll’s biggest fans would probably admit that the not-so-divine ponytail would fall into the category of fair footballers as opposed to wonderful. The price that Liverpool paid was a wonderful one for a fair footballer. A return of 11 goals in 58 appearances for Liverpool was scant reward for the huge outlay made by Liverpool. Admittedly, Carroll struggled to start many matches and started predominantly from the bench which is hardly ideal for a striker’s confidence. A major problem that strikers face when they move clubs is that it is very easy to assess their so-called value or return to the new club – you either score or you don’t and there is no place to hide (can anybody say Fernando Torres?). Commentators love to throw in the phrase “he’s just repaid a chunk of his XX million transfer fee with that goal”, but for midfielders and defenders they are somewhat shielded from the glare of that particular spotlight.
The new Liverpool manager decided that Carroll was not part of his future investment portfolio at Liverpool and made no secret of his desire to offload the burly striker at the first opportunity. Part of the reason was the supposition that Rodgers prefers his teams to play football on the ground as opposed to the aerial approach favoured by other managers.
Looking back on the Carroll transaction Liverpool will probably heed another of Buffett’s nuggets of wisdom prior to making an expensive acquisition: “Price is what you pay, value is what you get”.