LIVERPOOL’S owners have lifted the lid on the mammoth task facing the Reds and
admitted: “You can’t turn a liner round like a speedboat.”
John W Henry and Tom Werner, frontmen for Fenway Sports Group, took control of
the club nearly two years ago, as it lurched dangerously close to insolvency.
It has taken most of their tenure to convince sceptical fans of their
intentions, after the disastrous previous regime of fellow Americans Tom
Hicks and George Gillett.
Yet Henry and Werner revealed THEY needed just as much convincing in
the first place – because the club was in such a shambles.
Henry revealed: “We had to decide whether we really wanted to take this on
because we knew this was a huge challenge, much larger than any supporter
“We had done due diligence and looked at the financial situation, with the
player contracts and the youth system. Tom and I went for a long walk and
the further we went into it, the more sobered we were.”
Werner put things a little more succinctly when he confessed: “Then we had a
The American duo proved they are unafraid of tough decisions when they axed
Kop legend Kenny Dalglish and replaced him with young boss Brendan Rodgers
two months ago.
They have already promised Rodgers time to get the Reds back on the glory road
– and Henry admitted the Ulsterman will certainly need it.
He added: “You can’t turn an ocean liner around like you can a speedboat. We
had a lack of depth in the squad and some really high payrolls, plus issues
with the age of the players and so forth.”
The ultimate goal is overhauling deadly rivals Manchester United, yet Henry
reckons that is an even bigger task than the one they faced when buying
Boston Red Sox baseball team 11 years ago.
The Red Sox had not won the World Series since 1918, while bitter rivals New
York Yankees were the dominant force in the sport.
Yet in 2004 they finally achieved their goal, and won it three years later as
well – but the Americans reckon that was chicken feed compared to the task
Henry claimed: “You could say it was a bigger challenge than the Red Sox. When
you look at the rivalry between Liverpool and United, Liverpool isn’t
holding up its side of the rivalry.
“That’s the way it was with the Red Sox and the Yankees. They were just
completely dominant when we arrived and we knew we could never be on an
equal footing financially.
“We had to do everything in our power to get on a level footing with them on
the playing field, which was a tremendous challenge.
“Then, as we started to close the gap, they built a new stadium. That was a
quantum leap forward, but this is an even bigger challenge.
“We are behind but we are on it. Do we feel that it is possible to get on a
level with those clubs? Absolutely. Can we close that gap and compete at the
very highest level. Absolutely.”
When FSG arrived, they found a squad packed with players on long-term,
astronomical contracts, and only now are they really beginning to ship them
High earners likes of Alberto Aquilani – on a staggering £6.5 million a year –
Maxi Rodriguez and Dirk Kuyt have all left, with new boys Fabio Borini and
Joe Allen on a fraction of their salaries.
Some cynics have suggested they are merely offloading the biggest burdens in
preparation to make the club easier to sell should they opt to cut and run.
Yet Henry and Werner have gunned down any thoughts, and insisted they plan to
stick around for years.
Henry added: “It makes sense for us to be more hands on now, than a year ago –
we are just getting started.”