If only our forwards and defenders had acted with the speed FSG have shown in responding to the groundswell of dissatisfaction caused by last week’s events. If only the communication between them and Brendon Rogers over the replacement for Andy Carroll had been as succinct and decisive?
The open letter (click here for full details) penned by John W Henry to Liverpool fans is, to be on the positive side, comprehensive. Moreover it flies in the face of most owners who prefer to remain silent and let rumours and stories fester. Would for example the Mancs fans receive a similar communication from the Glaziers?. On negative side it is very very easy to pick holes in long statements of this kind and interpret things the wrong way, however the letter is predictable and not, partly because of Henry’s stated long term vision, backed up by actions so far and in places it is simply unbelievable!
Why issue the letter now? I guess there must be an element of damage limitation. With two more tricky league games coming up, away to Sunderland and then the Mancs, perhaps it’s an attempt to cool things down before things get any worse and the Red masses pick up the their rakes, hoes and shovels and try to storm the Shankly Gates in true angry mob style! Is this what was meant by the Rogers revolution!
I wonder if the owners have also been taken aback by the strength of feeling that’s been shown? Perhaps they should have seen the signs when Gillett and Hicks were here, as Pat Metheny said with David Bowie “This is not America”. When it comes to team matters surely FSG are learning that there is no wriggle room, particularly if things are going badly on the pitch. The fans will let them know just exactly how they feel but, to their credit, the owners have been honest enough to suggest that they have made mistakes
“We are still in the process of reversing the errors of previous regimes. It will not happen overnight. It has been compounded by our own mistakes in a difficult first two years of ownership. It has been a harsh education, but, make no mistake, the club is healthier today than when we took over”.
The main catalyst for the letter seems to have been the clubs shopping in the transfer window more specifically our inability to obtain a replacement for Andy Carroll. In his letter Henry rightly states that other signing have been made (Allen, Borini, Yesil and Assaidi), he also (rightly) states that we can take comfort that some key players were “retained” and tied to new contracts. However, when the gutters are leaking there’s no point in going to B&Q and coming back with a load of garden turf! Anyone who had even half an eye on Liverpool last season will have noticed that our problems were up front. Despite this the sales of Dirk Kuyt, Craig Bellamy and Andy Carroll (on loan) went through. Of course this is fine if replacements are lined up however, Fabio Borini and Luis Suarez have been left holding the baby. Rather than addressing the problem it has been made worse.
Perhaps one of the “mistakes” was announcing that Carroll had gone before we’d got someone lined up. Surely those clubs we approached over a replacement Fulham (Dempsey) and Chelsea (Sturridge) were aware of our predicament and could play harder ball? Perhaps the mistake was letting Carroll go before we had someone lined up full stop. Henry states we have long term plan and clear vision but we should have sorted this problem long before the window closed. Brendon Rogers was taking about loaning Carroll out before the Olympics had started yet we still found ourselves desperately charging about like some presentless husband on Christmas Eve ten minutes before the shops shut!
Henry states that
“We will build and grow from within, buy prudently and cleverly and never again waste resources on inflated transfer fees and unrealistic wages. We have no fear of spending and competing with the very best but we will not overpay for players”
Just how slavishly are FSG going to implement this policy and how much are they prepared to gamble when it comes to buying players? We are told that the sticking point over the Dempsey deal was a few million. This is the club with a massive sponsorship deals (Warrior and Standard Charter immediately spring to mind) yet here we are arguing the toss over a few million. Perhaps the owners should ask themselves this. If Dempsey scores half of the twenty odd goals he scored for Fulham last seasons for Liverpool what impact might have on our league position? The difference of few places would recoup those millions in prize money? Sometimes the ends justifies the means.
Henry commented about bringing on and developing youth
“Our emphasis will be on developing our own players using the skills of an increasingly impressive coaching team. Much thought and investment already have gone into developing a self-sustaining pool of youngsters imbued in the club’s traditions”
This will be judged in years to come however how does this square with the shipping out of Ince, Eccleston and Spearing and the recent attempt to offload Pacheco? Youth can be developed and nurtured and bought into the team however, as West Ham have found over the years “growing your own” and selling it on can also be a lucrative source of income. Which brings us to nub of everything, money.
“Contrary to popular opinion, owners rarely get involved in sports in order to generate cash. They generally get involved with a club in order to compete and work for the benefit of their club. It’s often difficult”
Surely no one is taken in by this? Please tell me I’m not wrong! Like Hicks and Gillett and like The Glaziers FSG are businessmen. Liverpool FC is not some Care in the Community case a charity play thing you can write off against tax, it is a business in it’s own right. How does this philanthropic statement square with the fact that over the last few days Liverpool have shifted something amounting to £8m off the wage bill and received £4m in transfer income. Add into that the outgoings of Kuyt, Aquilani, Bellamy and Maxi and you are talking about a dam sight more. Square all this with the revenue streams and sponsorship deals we have and don’t tell me FSG aren’t in it for the cash!
I’ve no doubt that Henry and his team need to keep the wolf from the door particularly with the fair play hovering. I’ve also no doubt that the calamitous antics of Hicks and Gillett needed a lot of time to put right, perhaps once this is done thing will be freed up a bit more? However a balance needs to be struck between balancing the books and the balance of the team. Can FSG say, hand on heart, that over the last weeks the two priorities have been in harmony? Finally…
“There will be short-term setbacks from time to time, but we believe we have the right people in place to bring more glory to Anfield.”
People have short memories, we have to remember that FSG saved us from potential bankruptcy. The letter is full of holes if FSG are to be judged by their actions so far and asks more questions than it answers but at least it is a communication that tries to cover the main points. It would have been easy to do f*ck all, there is also a degree of transparency and honest in owning up the past errors. However, that is in the past FSG have said going forward there will be set backs there will be bitter pills to swallow let’s hope, for everyone’s sanity, they and therefore club don’t choke on them?