When Ian Ayre forlornly left Liverpool’s Melwood training ground with hours of the transfer window still remaining on Friday he did so with all the hope of a man who’d lost a pound and found a penny. Not too long ago Ayre’s boss John Henry was spending his money faster than Mario Balotelli, and he was often doing so with the same nonchalant disregard for its value as Liverpool made a whole string of over valued purchases.
Yet the events that progressed in the back end of this summer’s transfer window and the open letter Henry has today released to the world, taken from The Telegraph, suggests that Mr Henry has suddenly suffered an untimely epiphany of the value of cold hard cash.
Henry’s determination to hold on to his dollar may already have already cost Liverpool where it counts most, on the pitch. When Liverpool conceded a second goal against Arsenal few could blame Brendan Rodgers if he shot a puzzled look towards his bench, as he searched desperately among his collection of substitutes for a man who could influence the game in the final third and found none to be present. Just a day earlier Andy Carroll offered all at the club that once valued him at £35 million a reminder of what he can produce in a team willing to move the ball up the pitch just a little faster than Rodger’s Liverpool.
Rodgers himself conceded that he would never have allowed Carroll to leave had he not had faith in Liverpool’s ability to find a replacement, and it seems incredible that not single signing materialised on deadline day. Rodgers told the BBC , “We all know we needed reinforcements and the players needed help but it’s gone now and I can’t do anything about it.”
While Rodgers may not be able to sign the cheques to bring new players through the door at Anfield he may well feel aggrieved with those in the Anfield hierarchy who do posses that power. As John Henry recognises in his open letter, Liverpool’s previous frivolous spending could not continue if the club are to adhere to UEFA’s financial fair play regulations but the club’s unwillingness to meet Fulham £6 million valuation of Clint Dempsey highlight that Henry and Co’s prudence is almost equally as threatening to Liverpool long term success.
Henry states in his open letter that “the transfer window may not have been perfect but we are not just looking at the next 16 weeks until we can buy again: we are looking at the next 16 years and beyond. These are the first steps in restoring one of the world’s great clubs to its proper status.” While Henry’s attempts to build the club in the correct manner are certainly admirable the refusal to meet relatively low transfer fees, such as Dempsey, could leave Liverpool’s fine reputation a distant memory by the time youth has risen to the fore in the fashion Henry appears to crave.
A further issue must surely be the break down in communication between the powers that be at Anfield. If Rodgers is willing to state that he would not have allowed Carroll, and probably Bellamy, Kuyt and Maxi Rodriguez to leave without replacements being on the horizon those in the Anfield boardroom must have offered Rodgers assurances that new arrivals would materialise.
This suggests that as reasonable as Henry’s rhetoric is he has clearly not offered a masterclass in management in the sense that he appears to have promised Rodger’s cheques he never planned on signing. Furthermore a media network owned by Henry’s Fenway Sports Group mistakenly announced that the club had signed Clint Dempsey and ignited the wrath of the Cottagers, a move that is likely to have left Fulham preferring to sell to Tottenham and avoid having to do business with a club who had angered them.
Although his intentions may be honourable Henry should leave Rodgers to manage the club and not offer public interventions justifying his methods, he should let his manager manage and simply sign the cheques when necessary and justified.
Ultimately Henry is correct is stating that the most important factor for Liverpool football club is continued success in the long term, the issue is that it is becoming an increasingly long period of time since the red side of Merseyside were mounting genuine challenges for the games top honours. Unless some reasonable short term investments are made the club may find it even more difficult to attract the game’s better players in the future without having to pay astronomical wages.