Saturday 18 January 2020

Somebody must bring Kop boss into line for Reds to succeed

Henry Winter

On a day of divorces announced one by one on the Liverpool website, the adjacent ad seemed slightly inappropriate: 'Get married at Anfield for just £3,999. We are no strangers to hosting memorable occasions.'

Love was not in the air of L4 yesterday. Separation was. Liverpool's American owners rode into town and culled the director of football Damien Comolli, then the medical man Peter Brukner.

Equally significantly, all who remained were left in little doubt as to the ruthlessness of the club's owners: it's Fenway or the highway.

So the business empire strikes back. Fair enough. Anyone with any familiarity with the modus operandi of John W Henry and Tom Werner in American sports know they do not act this decisively without serious thought.

If the timing stirred surprise, coming on the eve of such an important match as an FA Cup semi-final Merseyside derby at Wembley, Fenway's logic certainly made sense. Restructuring is essential.

Fenway, though, needs to look even closer. For all the compliments bestowed on the manager Kenny Dalglish and the managing director Ian Ayre, the dynamic between the duo at the heart of Liverpool Football Club needs examining.


The balance is not right. Ayre appears in awe of Dalglish and that is unhealthy for any organisation.

One of the most powerful emotions flowing through Anfield, the reverence in which Dalglish is understandably held, can be a negative as well as a positive.

There is nobody employed at Anfield capable of standing toe to toe with Dalglish, staring eye to eye. Everyone's too deferential.

Kopites will not appreciate the sentiment, but Liverpool's centre of operations requires the type of coalition that works so well for Manchester United with Alex Ferguson and David Gill.

For all Fenway's talk of a new director of football to replace the expendable Comolli, what Liverpool need first is a strong chief executive running the club, dovetailing with Dalglish yet calling him to account at times.

Sometimes the best footballing chief executives are those who are not boyhood fans of the club they serve, who will diplomatically dispute the manager's views. Situation vacant: board member with supreme man-management skills, make that manager-management skills.

As Ayre enjoys Fenway's support any hopes of a heavyweight administrator arriving are non-existent.

So Ayre must prove he can occasionally bring Dalglish into line. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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