Sunday 18 February 2018

No quick fix for Reds

Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard may have to soldier on for the rest of season without any new big-name signings to help them revive Liverpool's fortunes. Photo: Getty Images
Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard may have to soldier on for the rest of season without any new big-name signings to help them revive Liverpool's fortunes. Photo: Getty Images

Rory Smith

Liverpool owner John W Henry has warned that there is no "quick fix" for the litany of problems New England Sports Ventures (NESV) inherited on completing their £300m Anfield takeover, insisting he will fund substantial investment in January only if it is in the club's long-term interests.

Henry and the remainder of his group find themselves presented with a manager, Roy Hodgson, who has failed to win the support of the club's fans and a number of players, including Pepe Reina and Fernando Torres, who harbour doubts over Liverpool's ability to satisfy their thirst for success in the near future.

Though Reina last week strenuously denied suggestions he had informed Hodgson of his desire to leave Anfield immediately, both Spanish internationals won't make a final decision on whether to keep faith with the club until the summer, when they can consider the final league position attained by Hodgson and assess the scale of ambition shown by NESV when the transfer market re-opens.

But Henry, in an email to the supporters website, insisted that NESV will not attempt to mask either issue with a sudden change of manager or an unwarranted spending spree, explaining that it is unfair to use Hodgson as a scapegoat for Liverpool's travails and outlining his belief that money will be spent only if it fits with the group's long-term plan for the club.

"These players all want the same things," he wrote. "They want to win. This club can be better. Blaming the manager or a particular player is wrong. They need to play to their potential every match.

"I have been very forthright about our philosophy. Some would prefer a quick fix. Others prefer to focus on the long term and that is very difficult for most players. Most people seem to think it will be the summer before we can really begin to improve."

Much of that recruitment is likely to focus on attracting young talent to Anfield in conjunction with a renewed emphasis on the club's academy, with Damien Comolli, Liverpool's new director of football strategy, determined to ensure the club's on-pitch future is secure.

"We have got only a few weeks to prepare for the (January) window but we are also looking at the summer," added Henry.


"That is the short term. In the long term, we are looking at what targets for the academy there are in England and in Europe. It is not about a quick fix for six months. It is whether a player can improve us over the next four or five years."

Comolli, meanwhile, has revealed he will be "involved in everything which is related to football" in his new role at Anfield, but that will not extend to dictating which players should be signed by Hodgson.

While at Spurs, Comolli forged a reputation as a shrewd dealer in the transfer market, masterminding the signings of Gareth Bale, Dimitar Berbatov, Luka Modric, Heurelho Gomes and Roman Pavlyuchenko.

NESV described Comolli's appointment as "the first step in creating a leadership group and structure designed to develop, enhance and implement our long-term philosophy", although his arrival has also cast doubt over the depth of Hodgson's influence.

Comolli insists, however, that his role should not be seen as a threat to Hodgson's authority in the transfer market.

"As John Henry said, it will be a consensus among us," Comolli explained. "That's the way John sees it, that's the way I see it and that's the way Roy sees it. The manager's decision and the manager's opinion on a player is absolutely crucial. I would not bring in a player who the manager doesn't like because there would be no point. Talking in very basic terms, it would be a waste of money." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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