John W. Henry’s statement to Liverpool fans is a glaring admission of financial wrongdoing in the transfer market by a previous manager
Brendan Rogers probably always knew deep down that the job he faced when taking over at Liverpool was simultaneously his biggest achievement but also his biggest challenge to date in his relatively short managerial career.
Yes, the Anfield club won some silverware the season before he came in, the Carling Cup, recently rebranded for the umpteenth time as the Capital One Cup, but the taste of champagne and purchasing of silver polish failed to cover up a, quite frankly, disastrous league campaign for the red half of Merseyside.
Liverpool ended up finishing in 8th place last season, behind fierce local rivals Everton in 7th and a remarkable 37 points behind the Manchester clubs of City and United as they vied for the Premier League title. Liverpool were closer to the relegation zone than they were to the Champions League places, where Liverpool’s American owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG) want the club to be.
Rodgers won many plaudits for the pass and move style of football he employed last season whilst at Swansea City. However, the evidence of the three Premier League games so far suggests that it will understandably take longer than that to impose the intricate style of football Rodgers wants onto the Anfield club.
Whilst Rodgers attempts to sort out matters on the pitch, owner John W. Henry wrote an extraordinary open letter to Liverpool’s fans regarding the club’s recent actions in the summer transfer window and putting faith in their new manager.
“In Brendan Rodgers we have a talented young manager and we have valued highly his judgement about the make-up of the squad. This is a work in progress. It will take time for Brendan to instill his philosophy into the squad and build exactly what he needs for the long term.”
The three main players that Rodgers signed during the transfer window certainly seem to fit the mould of the passing style of play he strives for. He has previously worked with both Joe Allen and Fabio Borini during his time at Swansea, whilst loan signing Nuri Sahin is an intelligent player who was the 2010-11 Bundesliga player of the year, lest we forget, before going to sit on a bench for the majority of last season at Real Madrid.
“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.”
Although Dalglish will still undoubtedly be worshipped for evermore at Anfield and some fans preferring to shift blame onto Liverpool’s owners FSG for the Glaswegian’s downfall at the club, Dalglish was the one who had a sizable transfer kitty and then proceeded to waste it on players who are clearly not good enough to play for Liverpool.
Rodgers has largely been of the same opinion as well, particularly as several of Dalglish’s acquisitions fail to fit into his system. Charlie Adam, a £9 million signing from Blackpool the previous summer, failed to live up to expectations and was sold to Stoke City this transfer deadline day for around £4 million. £20 million Stewart Downing, the winger with the prestigious honour of not having registered a single goal or assist in last season’s Premier League campaign has been he can stay at the club – but only as a left-back – whilst Jordan Henderson, a baffling £20 million signing, looked out of his depth last season and was rumoured to be offered on loan to Fulham as a makeweight in an eventually failed bid to bring Clint Dempsey to Anfield.
Luis Suarez – the £22.7 million signing from Ajax – is a wonderful player but has questionable finishing and has also become the new Cristiano Ronaldo, in the sense that he is probably the most despised foreign player in the Premier League since the Portuguese winger. Thanks to his love of diving as well as the way he conducted himself during the Patrice Evra racism case, he is unlikely to receive much love outside of Anfield this season. Indeed, Dalglish’s insistence on defending his player is unquestionably one of the reasons why he is no longer in the Anfield dugout.
Other Dalglish favourites that have been shipped out of Merseyside include Liverpool’s best player from last season, Craig Bellamy (although a desire to be closer to his family in Cardiff may have been a greater factor in the Welshman moving on), and Jay Spearing, who has been sent out on loan to Bolton Wanderers, though Rodgers is thought to admire the Wallasey-born man.
The one Dalglish player perhaps least suited to Rodgers’ revolution is Andy Carroll - the marquee £35 million signing from Newcastle United and most expensive British player of all time – has been shipped out on loan to West Ham United and duly won several plaudits as he helped his new team win 3-0 against Fulham at Upton Park.
It was not a surprise to see Carroll depart Anfield, albeit temporarily. It had indeed been rumoured ever since Rodgers succeeded Dalglish in June of this year. But to not sign a replacement centre-forward and leave the new manager with a newly-acquired Borini and Suarez until January at least, smacks of either poor boardroom decisions or a lack of further transfer funds for Rodgers because of the exorbitant sums that have been spent and squandered over the last 18 months. Clint Dempsey was supposedly tapped-up, supposedly on his way to Anfield, and then he signed for Spurs.
The letter by Henry to the fans both admits the failings of last season and leaves Rodgers picking up the tab for the extravagances explored under Dalglish. Liverpool fans everywhere will hope that both Borini and Suarez can stay injury-free and hammer the goals in, otherwise the January transfer window will not be able to come quickly enough.