Thursday 24 August 2017

Henry heading for Anfield to oversee start of King's reign

Rory Smith

John W Henry, Liverpool's principal owner, will attend Sunday's Merseyside derby as part of a 10-day visit to England to oversee the start of Kenny Dalglish's reign as manager and accelerate Fenway Sports Group's overhaul of the club on and off the pitch.

Henry has not attended Anfield since early last month and will no doubt use the visit of Everton to gauge what, if any, progress the team have achieved since he replaced Roy Hodgson with the Scot, albeit on a temporary basis, last Saturday before the FA Cup game against Manchester United at Old Trafford the following day.

Reviewing Liverpool's performance against their fierce rivals, though, will form just one part of what is likely to be a packed agenda.

The appointment of a chief executive -- a position vacant at Anfield since FSG's £300m takeover in October -- will be one priority, with Celtic supremo Peter Lawwell thought to be one candidate, while Henry will also assess the issue of Liverpool's stadium.

FSG have not yet committed any funding to building the club's long-awaited new home on Stanley Park and sources close to the group insist no decision has yet been made on whether those plans will be pursued or abandoned in favour of redeveloping Anfield.

talks

First and foremost, though, Henry is expected to seek talks with Dalglish to clarify his position.

Though the Scot has insisted he is happy to relinquish control in the summer should "someone better" be identified to take Liverpool forward, the admission of Damien Comolli, the director of football strategy, that he would be considered for the permanent role has clouded the issue somewhat.

"The three things that are important to the club are competence, someone who will fit in to the club's playing philosophy and he has to be huge on man management," said the Frenchman.

"It is open to people who fit what I have described and obviously Kenny will come into that category because he is exactly what I have described," he added.

"It will be a thorough search of where we want to go, but we will speak to Kenny and see where it takes us."

Dalglish will also no doubt be keen to discuss potential funds for the one transfer window for which he will definitely be in charge.

Comolli has confirmed that the Scot will be given the final say on any purchases made, though he was less clear on what level of activity Liverpool can expect in what he admits is a "difficult" time to buy.

The club, who have allowed Nathan Eccleston to leave on loan for Charlton, have not only scouted intensively since Comolli's appointment but have thoroughly revamped their scouting department. All but one of Liverpool's European scouts are thought to have been replaced.

Investing in youth remains high on FSG's priorities, but Dalglish is likely to push Henry for funds as he seeks immediate, senior reinforcements. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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