With rumours of new owners, what would that mean for Liverpool Football Club? On the 15th of October 2010 John W Henry made the club his, at the same time reducing the club’s debt. Fenway Sports Group saved the club from Tom Hicks and George Gillett and Liverpool supporters will forever be thankful for that, but is their time at the club nearly up? When first interviewed in 2010 one of John W Henry’s first few words were “We’re here to win.” A sight every Liverpool supporter in the world cherished. New owners who looked to take Liverpool back to where they belong.
John W. Henry – “We’re here to win.”
A new era began at Liverpool with the Merseyside derby their next game to kick it off. Everton ensured John W Henry’s reign as Liverpool owner got off to the worst possible start, with the Reds losing 2-0. Not a surprise considering Roy Hodgson was Liverpool’s manager at the time. A soulless & lifeless club.
FSG’s first major call was letting go of Roy Hodgson and a good call it was. The club had become toxic. There was a lot of negativity under the club even with the new owners. There was no light at the end of the tunnel for the supporters. It looked like it was not going to get any better. Hodgson was also making signings that will now make you shiver looking back upon them. A majority of the signings were mediocre, mid-table players, and when you sign mostly mediocre players from mediocre teams, you get a mediocre mindset and a mediocre team.
January 2011, along comes Kenny Dalglish. A hero, legend and soon to be savior of the club. With Hodgson leaving the club in 12th position Dalglish had a job to do to take Liverpool higher up the league table. While at the club, FSG made one of the biggest transfers that the club has made in recent years without knowing it yet. Dalglish had signed Luis Suarez from Ajax for around £22 million after Fernando Torres left for a then record fee of £50 million to Chelsea. Liverpool also forked out £35 million for Andy Carroll to join Suarez. This showed intent and real ambition from FSG. Although Liverpool lost a vital player, they did go and spend the money to rectify that. Liverpool and Dalglish went on to win the League Cup for a record eighth time and ended a six-year wait for silverware – their first trophy since 2006.
Before winning the League Cup, Liverpool’s last trophy was in 2006 where they won the FA Cup with Rafa Benitez. It has now been four years since Liverpool have won a trophy, and eleven years since the club has won a European trophy. The simple truth is, that this just is not good enough for a club like Liverpool, who should be competing for every trophy possible.
League positions have also been a thing of worry under FSG. Liverpool have only finished once in the top four since FSG have been here. That came in the 2013/14 season where Liverpool finished 2nd. Here are the league positions Liverpool have finished in the last six years under FSG.
- 2010–11 – 6th
- 2011/12 – 8th
- 2012/13 – 7th
- 2013/14 – 2nd
- 2014/15 – 6th
- 2015/16 – 8th
Is this good enough? Have Liverpool become a mid table club under FSG? Does something have to change? Questions everyone associated with Liverpool has to ask themselves.
Now when you look at owners in contrast with ambition we look at Man City. In 2008 Manchester City were bought by Khaldoon Al Mubarak. In his first transfer window Al Mubarak made sure Man City had pipped Chelsea to the signing of Robinho from Real Madrid for a British record transfer fee of £32.5 million, now that is ambition if I have ever seen it. Man City went from Mark Hughes, Roberto Mancini, Manuel Pellegrini to now having one of the best managers in the world in Pep Guardiola. Man City have also won the Premier League twice in the last 5 years. It is no secret, football is changing and money is a big factor in success. If you do not offer the right amount of money you will not be successful, and Man City is a brilliant example.
- 2009/10 – 5th
- 2010/11 – 3rd / Winners of the FA Cup
- 2011/12 – 1st / Winners of the Premier League
- 2012/13 – 2nd
- 2013/14 – 1st Winners of the Premier League
- 15/16 – 4th / League Cup winners / Champions League semi finalists
It makes you think, if Liverpool had ambitious owners, would they have won the league?
When you look at how much FSG spent throughout the years at the club you do question their ambition. Do they want to be successful and win trophies or are they happy with a mid table finish every season with a good net spend? If the latter is the case, then they might as well pack their briefcases and purchase a one way ticket to Boston. Liverpool supporters will not stand for that and rightly so. A club the size of Liverpool should be competing every season, in England and in Europe. Under FSG, Liverpool have not bought a leader ever since Steven Gerrard has left the club.
However during FSG’s stay at Liverpool you cannot say that they have not backed their manager, with Brendan Rodgers being given massive amounts of funds to buy the players he wanted.The manager has always been allowed to spend, whether that has been Roy Hodgson or Brendan Rodgers. Although Rodgers did not do a very good job, in result getting the sack from FSG. Can you blame FSG for Rodgers’ faults? It also seems that FSG do listen to the supporters who called for Rodgers to be axed, which was then the case.
FSG then made the signing that showed there might be a little ambition left in them. It felt like the Steven Gerrard header against AC Milan in 2005, there is a slight chance that FSG might have had enough of the mid-table shenanigans and actually want to win some major silverware with Liverpool. FSG brought in Jürgen Klopp. Liverpool’s biggest signing for many years.
In just 6 months Jürgen Klopp took a Brendan Rodgers team to 2 finals,the League Cup and Europa League final and brought back the life and soul the club had been missing for years. Liverpool supporters had not seen this much affection since the 2013/14 season. Every game under Klopp felt like a special occasion. Klopp gave the club something that they had not had in a while – a winning mentality. FSG had the fans back on their side, well most of them.
The summer transfer window was going to be crucial. Everyone knew the team was not good enough. Now was the time for FSG to back their manager even more so than they have in the past and show the world they mean business. Fast forward and Liverpool have spent around £70 million and brought in 6 new players with Sadio Mané at £34 million. Liverpool bought 6 players and sold or loaned 14 players, making Liverpool’s net spend positive.
Now, when you look at the players bought, they have all been bought from clubs that are not challenging for their respected leagues and European trophies. Although there are a few players who will and have made an impact immediately; Sadio Mané in particular and Joel Matip who is an assured defender which has been missing for a while.
- Loris Karius – FSV Mainz 05
- Ragnar Klavan – FC Augsburg
- Sadio Mané – Southampton
- Alex Manniger – FC Augsburg
- Joel Matip – Shalke
- Georginio Wijnaldum – Newcastle United
It does annoy supporters that clubs around them are spending money. Man Utd for example, who have no Champions League football are buying players like Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimvoic, Ligue 1 top goal scorer and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, a Bundesliga player of the season. Why can they buy players of that caliber but Liverpool are messing around with Ben Chilwell from Leicester City? Is it FSG or is it Jürgen Klopp?
We can all have faith in Jürgen Klopp as he did do wonders at Borrusia Dortmund creating some of the best players in the game at the moment, Robert Lewandowski, Ilkay Gündogan and Mario Götze for example. Klopp does have an eye for talent and Liverpool supporters will be hoping that he will bring the same fortune at the club.
“I am 100 per cent happy with the guys we have brought in until now.”
Now, we do not know the behind the scenes, but if FSG were willing to spend more, would Klopp have gone for the players he has bought in this summer, or were they second fringe players and we missed out on top targets? Maybe yes, maybe no.
FSG provided Liverpool with a new Main Stand which pleased the Liverpool faithful. The club was in a dilemma to either create a new stadium or improve Anfield, and I think improving the stadium was the correct decision. The stadium alone holds many memories and moving would have sucked out the atmosphere and the heart of the club. Good move from FSG. The addition of the new main stand will be taking the stadium’s capacity to 54,742.
Whatever happens regarding FSG, whether they stay or go, let us hope the club remains debt free, in safe hands and successful whatever may happen in the future.
Before some forget, this is the size of club you are looking at. A club that has won many prestigious honours which some clubs can only dream of. Liverpool is a big club, it always has been and always will be. New owners or not, something has to change for the club to succeed once again and challenge like it has done before.
Written by Vilson Beiqi