John W Henry has once again decided to send an ‘Open’ letter to Liverpool supporters in what is seen as a way to attempt to placate the rumblings and dissatisfaction that is raising its head amongst the KOP faithful, after what was seen by most as an embarrassing episode around the transfer window – Liverpool’s lacking in signing a striker whilst allowing their own number 9 Andy Carroll to leave the club on loan.
I certainly don’t believe that Liverpool Football Club are anywhere near the situation it found itself under the previous ownership of Hicks & Gillett, but I also refuse to go silently along until we once again find ourselves in that position. We as fans/supporters now find that blind faith that had always been an ingredient of any true Reds fan has been replaced with a more realistic approach. Eyes wide open, wary of all whilst total consumption remains.
With all that in mind I have a few issues of my own –
Dear Mr Henry
‘After almost two years at Anfield, we are close to having the system we need in place. The transfer window may not have been perfect but we are not just looking at the next 16 weeks until we can buy again: we are looking at the next 16 years and beyond. These are the first steps in restoring one of the world’s great clubs to its proper status’.
What exactly is this ‘System’ you talk about? One where we have no CEO in place, where promises of a new stadium still remain dormant with very little information being released? I suggest a letter, maybe? A change of policy from that initial plan we were informed about 2 years ago, is this part of such a system?
‘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.’
How exactly do you balance such a statement having a competitive nature as regard our competitors whilst at the same time restricting the manager as to whom he can recruit at the top end of the transfer market? Surely this statement is at best misleading and at worst an unqualified impossibility.
Quite clearly FSG do exactly have a fear of competing with the very best. A much more honest approach would have been to state “The big spending days are over, get used to it” , at least then we as supporters can have a much more appreciative response – the truth is the truth or surely it is a lie.
‘The transfer policy was not about cutting costs,’ said Henry. ‘It was – and will be in the future – about getting maximum value for what is spent so that we can build quality and depth. We are avowed proponents of Uefa’s Financial Fair Play agenda. We must comply with FFP guidelines that ensure spending is tied to income.’
‘Spending is not merely about buying talent. Our ambitions do not lie in cementing a mid-table place with expensive, short-term quick fixes that will only contribute for a couple of years. Our emphasis will be on developing our own players. Much thought and investment already has gone into developing a self-sustaining pool of youngsters imbued in the club’s traditions.’
If it is part of the said policy about getting maximum value, then I am at a loss to see such value at letting a player that the club paid £35 million (yes, overpriced, but still a fact) for and who it seemed was just getting into the swing of things – both at the club & international level – leave on loan for a reported fee of £1 million. Add to this our own manager stating this is a financial decision, to me it stinks of desperation – similar to the desperation so frequently on show when the transfer window is about to slam shut. Are we not learning anything fast, John?
Buying talent is not merely the only criteria. While I totally agree we must build for a future, too many times in the past we have failed to hold on to the very foundations we amass, purely at times because those players are just not good enough. If however you are going to manage our expectations I suggest a less disingenuous approach where you blame previous regimes or managers, which in itself just alienates the supporters. We want to deal with the now – we can support you, we will support you. One thing that rankled with us is when we assume we are being lied to, purely because we are not in receipt of a truth.
‘I am as disappointed as anyone connected with Liverpool Football Club that we were unable to add further to our strike force in this summer transfer window, but that was not through any lack of desire or effort on the part of all of those involved. They pushed hard in the final days of the transfer window on a number of forward targets and it is unfortunate that on this occasion we were unable to conclude acceptable deals to bring those targets in.’
‘But a summer window which brought in three young, but significantly talented starters in Joe Allen, Nuri Sahin and Fabio Borini as well as two exciting young potential stars of the future – Samed Yesil and Oussama Assaidi – could hardly be deemed a failure as we build for the future.’
I am sure there was no lack of desire or effort, as you stated, in regard the recruitment of new players. However the fact is that once again, 24 hours away from the end of the transfer window, we would find ourselves in a similar position as previous transfer windows. How was this allowed to happen, are we really lacking that professional approach where deals cannot be conducted at an earlier stage?
It was indicated that Damien Comolli would be replaced, but months later this has still not happened. What exactly is happening behind the scenes at Anfield? On the field we are making strides, yes we have acquired some potentially great players. Our gripe is not about our team and nor will it ever be – if indeed you were to field a side full of 17 year olds those players would get as much encouragement & support as any of our multi-million pound purchases, if not more.
Finally, John we do not mind if we have to rip up any previous plan and start again – we have done this many times before. I am sure you don’t need a history lesson on our club, but I intend to give you one anyway, that’s just the sort of guy I am. When Bill Shankly came to Liverpool he would move on (polite for ‘showing the door’) 24 players in his first year at the club. It would be described as a ‘bloodbath’ and these players would be seen as either lacking the style in which Shanks wished to play or being too old. William Shankly had what could be described as long-term vision.
We all know how that vision would end.
One last thing: your thoughts, John, on an American journalist whom I am informed you have a close relationship with in terms of baseball, Jon Heyman (the sports writer for CBS), recently described Liverpool Football Club – the club you own – as an abomination?
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