It was this time last year I was ranting and raving on twitter (I was not the only one); "Ian Ayre is useless" "He can't negotiate a big deal" and generally mocking him and his Harley Davidson. A season on though, I feel differently about the situation. I think it may be time to cut Ayre some slack.
For me, he has definitely improved in his role over the last season, and I think this is down to the 'committee' being more settled in terms of finding and discussing targets since we first heard about the group (which apparently consists of Ayre, Brendan Rodgers, Dave Fallows, Barry Hunter and Michael Edwards). Last summer was disappointing as we lost out on targets such as Diego Costa, Willian and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but the fact of the matter is that with them Ayre was unfortunate.
The first two used us to gain more money from other teams, and everything seemed sorted with the last name but for his agent to be replaced and him then opting for Dortmund. As for Yevhen Konoplyanka, the Dinipro owner seemed to block that move, but unless Ayre was going to force him to sign the papers Liam Neeson style, surely there was very little he could do?
A year on from the birth of the committee and it feels to me that the recruitment is a lot smoother, certainly compared to when we used to hear the rumoured disagreements between Rodgers and the committee and not knowing whether a player was forced upon him or not.
I think also we have excelled commercially in the last year, that presumably being down to commercial director Billy Hogan. The clubs income and worldwide status has strengthened, with new commercial deals with Dunkin' Donuts, Subway, Chevrolet and Garuda as our training kit sponsor, along with bringing in around $5million altogether off the back of our pre season tour of the states. It means with the club in a strong position commercially Ayre can concentrate on bringing players in.
He has done that very well this summer. Certainly Emre Can for £10mil whilst having to contend with Bayern Munich's buyback clause was good business. Ayre also finally penned the signature of Adam Lallana despite Southampton being extremely reluctant to let him go, and factoring in that he was club captain and the inflated prices on English players, £23million isn't too bad. Same goes for Dejan Lovren, especially when you think Mangala cost City £32million, and David Luiz was £50million.
I think Ayre's best work though this summer has been with Lazar Markovic and Alberto Moreno. I have moaned about us not completing big deals, but Markovic was. Not necessarily in terms of price, but the work put in to get the deal over the line with third party ownership as we have been stung by that in the past.
Moreno for £12million + addons is fantastic, considering Seville have been messing us around this summer, upping the price every time we were close to an agreement. But we dug our heels in too and it has now paid off as we refused to be bullied to pay a high amount up front.
Also we have to take into account the sales. Removing Martin Kelly, Pepe Reina and Connor Coady from the wage bill, agreeing a £4million rising to £7mil deal for Assaidi, a £14million deal for Fabio Borini who I expect to be gone come September 1st and Daniel Agger looking likely to leave will significantly reduce the wage bill, and cuts the deadwood in the squad. He can be happy with the business he has conducted this summer, he can be ecstatic if we sign a striker before the window shuts.
I feel now we are very well managed on the business side along with the football side. I think we are in good hands and everyone is pulling in the same direction. Keep it up Mr Ayre.