JOSÉ Enríque failed to see the “bigger picture” when leaving Newcastle for Liverpool last summer, according to Alan Pardew.
The Spaniard sought a bigger club and although he already has a League Cup winners’ medal, the Reds are lagging behind in the ultimate measure of English teams.
Liverpool travel to St James’ Park tomorrow eight points behind their hosts in the Premier League, with as many games left. Andy Carroll’s £35m departure in the previous transfer window was more controversial, but it is Enríque’s Pardew recalls with more disappointment.
“When a player looks you in the eye and says he wants to go like Andy did, and the fee was what it was, there is no going back,” said the United boss. “José was different. I had many conversations with him and we couldn’t even get down to finance. The scars of the previous regime were deep and he definitely wanted to go. Jonás (Gutiérrez) and Colo (Fabricio Coloccini, Enríque’s closest friends in the dressing room) have signed since and perhaps they weren’t secure at the time.
“Maybe José felt it was all falling apart but sometimes there is a bigger picture. Sometimes players can’t see that. José couldn’t see it.”
Liverpool spent £40m on Carroll and Enríque in 2011. United reinvested wisely, bringing in Yohan Cabaye, Demba Ba and Papiss Cissé for less than half that. Former Magpies manager Kenny Dalglish also lavished huge sums on Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson and Luis Suárez, with disappointing returns.
Pardew denied the gulf in resources made looking down on tomorrow’s opponents more enjoyable, and admitted luck has played its part.
“We put great pride in the homework we do before we sign players. (Chief scout) Graham Carr, (secretary) Lee Charnley, the analysis staff, everyone.
“But you also need a bit of luck, hoping they will settle in a city. We wouldn’t have had the success we’ve had with those new players unless they had adjusted really well to this football club.
“A lot of work was done last year in making sure we get the balance and conditions right. When you get that right, it makes them easier to settle.
“We have to think a little left-field (on transfers). Money is important in this game – (Manchester) City wouldn’t be competing with United without huge investment. Liverpool’s shirt sponsorship dwarves any sponsorship we have got, probably trebles it.
“We want to get into a position where sponsors will look at us and the way we have gone this season will help Derek (Llambias, managing director) to get us better deals so we can compete.”
Pardew has sympathy for Liverpool, and is reluctant to rush to judgement on Dalglish’s dealings.
“They have young players who will come good, a bit of form at the start of next year, the likes of Downing, Carroll, Henderson could really step up because they are good players,” he argued. “At the moment though it’s not happening for them. I have been in Kenny’s position, he will be frustrated. They have lost five of the last six (in the Premier League) and he is probably scratching his head with the squad they have. Sometimes it’s hard to put a finger on it.”
Colocinni has a hamstring injury and is targeting the visit of Bolton on April 9. James Perch – “in the form of his life,” says Pardew – deputises. Ryan Taylor and Cheick Tioté are back from injury.
“He is the lion of our team,” said Pardew of the latter. “Like any lion who's been down in the dumps he came back and let everyone know he’s back, let out a few roars, had a couple of scuffles. Not everyone was pleased to see him back but he managed not to kill anyone.”