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John W Henry can't hide cracks in Liverpool hierarchy


John W Henry's open letter to supporters poses more questions than it answers

John W Henry's open letter to supporters poses more questions than it answers

John W Henry's open letter to supporters poses more questions than it answers

JOHN W HENRY'S 800-word open letter to Liverpool supporters can be summed up in one sentence.

"Yes, we've made mistakes but we're still trying to clean up someone else's mess."

His appeasement campaign ticked all the right boxes to ensure he calmed the disquiet after a traumatic weekend.

The only problem was he found nowhere in his reaffirmation of Fenway Sports Group's transfer policy to address the question every supporter wants answering.

Why did you allow Andy Carroll to go without being sure you would sign a replacement?

At least in blaming others, there was an acknowledgement of FSG's own errors.

There was even the slightest hint of slaying a sacred cow when the signings of Kenny Dalglish and Damien Comolli -- whose £110m spree (and the lucrative pay-off they received) have left a mental and fiscal wound on the Americans -- were acknowledged as influencing the current shift.

Most fans will gleefully apply the blaming of 'former regimes' to Tom Hicks and George Gillett, even if targeting them is the equivalent of digging up a two-year-old corpse and giving into another burial.

None of this was the central issue last Friday evening.

There was a breakdown in the chain of command, the manager realising when it was too late that, just because he wanted a player, agreed he was worth the asking price and had enough money to complete a deal, it didn't necessarily mean he would get him.

By any standard of boardroom interference, this was pretty exceptional at Anfield.

Clint Dempsey didn't sign because, for his fee and age, he didn't fit the player profile of FSG even though he did that of the club's manager.

But who now determines that profile, and how can we be sure this will never happen again? Are FSG following the model of Brendan Rodgers or is it still Billy Beane?

Liverpool say Rodgers could have signed Daniel Sturridge for £15m last Friday, but there were sound reasons for the manager not to pursue him. Rodgers wanted the player to prove himself for a season before committing so much money.

Again, it begs the question: who is deciding Sturridge for £15m is more desirable than Dempsey at less than half the price?


And why are FSG so reluctant to identify those who influenced this decision?

We know Henry listens to advisors. With a self-confessed limited knowledge of English football, he clearly isn't conducting this new era of quality control alone, so he has someone doing the vetting on his behalf.

When FSG first revealed they were taking independent advice, it led to a surreal period when individuals as diverse as Johann Cruyff to a blogger employed by Liverpool's official website issued denials that they were the chief consultants.

Whoever they are, they are able to act without fear of being held accountable for their decisions. They told FSG that Joe Allen, Nuri Sahin and Fabio Borini were acceptable purchases but Dempsey was not.

While Rodgers was pursuing the former Fulham striker for two months, there were those at his own club insisting the American was not a Liverpool target.

It was decided long before Carroll left that Dempsey was not worth £6m, so Rodgers was wasting his time last Friday.

The argument about the age of players -- also referred to in Henry's letter -- is also dangerous.

In an alternative reality in which Liverpool are competing for the Champions League and title, are we to believe they wouldn't have pursued 28-year-old Robin Van Persie?

In 2000, when Gerard Houllier signed the player who inspired a cup treble, 35-year-old Gary McAllister, would the deal have been vetoed if FSG been in charge?

In the discussions between manager and owner to prevent a repeat of Friday, Henry may need a crash course in how a blend of youth and experience is the key to success.

Rodgers understands the Anfield economic plan and has already embraced it.

He knows that while Liverpool are outside the Champions League, he can never expect more than a £20m summer budget.

He will look for solutions rather than stir up agitation, and, if anything, he should be assisted by the lowering of short-term expectations.

If he is to succeed, however, the manager must be allowed manage and stand and fall by his own decisions.

If he is unable to do so, the Liverpool job will rapidly become one of the most unworkable in English football. (© The Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent