by Paul Doward - HoZO - UKI
|Photo: Liverpool FC via Getty Images|
Liverpool FC's new owners have never been ones to shirk a question as they boldly state they will work in unison with the clubs fans and value their input. They have always stated they are merely stewards of the club and that the fans are the principal owners of the club, it's with this in mind then that they faced the TV cameras this evening on LFC TV's channel and answered some fans' questions live in the studio. The following questions and answers are the pick of the bunch from the phonecalls, texts and tweets as Principal Owner John Henry, Chairman Tom Werner and Commercial Director Ian Ayre fielded those questions.
Firstly, each caller and textee extended a warm welcome to the club for the owners and thanked them explicitly for taking over the club and eradicating the old regime. The first caller asked the panel about their plans for longterm investment and how does the club mirror their early days Boston Redsox. The caller also asked what their opinion of Roy is and commented that they didn't think he was good enough for the job. John Henry said that he sees alot of similarities between LFC and the Redsox, when they took over in Boston the team wasn't on an equal footing with the NY Yankees but they implemented some changes, mainly by generating more revenue and that by doing this and getting the right people into management positions would generate into fluency on the pitch. He went onto praise Ian Ayre and the job that he is doing commercially for the club, he said that their plan was to spend wisely and be successful and that they were determined to succeed. Henry also stated that when they took control of the club they realised that it was a fantastic opportunity for the longterm and it's with this in mind that they want to return the club to where it was 20 years ago. Tom Werner spoke on the subject of Roy Hodgson, he said that Roy's new to the job just as they are and whilst everybody concerned is aware of the need for improvement they believe in what Roy is doing.
The next caller asked about the plans for the Stadium and compared Anfield to the footballing cathedrals around the World such as The Bernabau, Camp Nou and San Siro. The caller felt it would be a disaster to move away from Anfield and all of the history that surrounds the illustrious stadium. Tom Werner agreed with the callers opinion on the option of tearing down the ground. He said that in many ways Anfield is similar to what Fenway Park was when they took over in that it's a very special place but something needs to be done and certainly needs to be done as a way of increasing revenue at an optimum level from the ground. He said that alot of meetings are taking place but it's too early to go in one direction regarding a new stadium or a regeneration of our current one. John Henry mentioned that visiting Anfield as fans is such a magical experience and one of the greatest sporting experiences of his life, he says that he has fallen in love with Anfield and;history and ambience that goes with the ground, he believes that it's an asset for the longterm to stay at Anfield.
Another caller asked if we were to expect the massive investment that was necessary to improve our first team squad and that the current crop of players aren't good enough. He also mentioned that in his opinion Roy, despite being a nice guy, wasn't good enough to manage the club and why was Kenny Dalglish overlooked? John Henry said that they are and have been actively looking towards the January window but they have no answers as to what they are going to do. He didn't doubt that so far performances have been underwhelming considering what they would like to do for the future. Tom Werner said that they were willing to take risks but risks that will pay off in the long-term. they will seek to get good value for money and that it's going to take time to rebuild as some decisions over the past few years that were made more for the short term have hampered the clubs progress. Tom Werner went onto say that he has viewed some games from Liverpools past and one thing that stood out for him was that despite being 3-0 up the team would be relentless in the quest for a 4th goal and that's what they want to bring back. They believe in Bill Shankly's mantra that first and foremost it's about winning trophies.
A question was then asked that came in via the message-board, the poster wanted to know what the plans were to utilise Kenny Dalglish in a more important role at the club. John Henry said that he needs to have a much more clear role at the club and one of more substance. He said that along with Damian Comolli Kenny Dalglish has an important part to play in the clubs future. Tom Werner said that he had the honour of going out for a meal with Kenny and his wife and despite struggling to understand his broad Scottish accent he totally understands what he means to the club and it's fans and that Kenny's spirit and love for the club is something they endeavour to embody in everybody that's connected with the Liverpool FC.
A text message came into the studio asking how close they were to appointing a Chief Executive. John Henry said that although they were still working on it and appointment isn't close. He did say that they have received a number of excellent applicants and they will be reviewing them in good time. A tweet was also read out that asked the owners about the option of a ground-share with Everton. John Henry stated that he is well aware it's something that the fans do not want and for that reason it would be difficult to implement; in his opinion whilst the fans take this view the subject is a non starter.
Another caller phoned in to ask where they owners saw the club in the next 5 years and what is their strategy for this period. John Henry said that it's very much a rebuilding project at the moment but the current position with regards to performance is unacceptable. He went on to say that they want to build to take the side back to the top of the table and the team must be in a position in the next 3 years to make this a realistic prospect. Another caller asked a question that ties in with this and asked how they feel they will be able to attract the big names that are necessary in turning the fortunes of the team around. John Henry stated that from what he has experienced from speaking to agents and players it's apparent that players want to come to Liverpool and that due to the attractiveness of playing for such an institute like LFC he sees no problems in attracting that calibre of player to the club. Another caller tied in with this also as they asked if the owners realise the task they have in contending with the sides that are spending millions and millions of pounds on wages and fees to bring these players to England. Can Liverpool compete with Chelsea and Man City? John Henry said that they do understand what it takes and that they will develop a strategy regarding player recruitment. They said that they undertook their due diligence before the takeover and from this they established what work needed doing. They are also aware of Fifa's impending fair play rules that will be implemented regarding player recruitment and they know what they need to do with regards to this. He did acknowledge that some players at the club are overpaid and under performing and that it's imperative to address these issues if they are to raise revenues at the club. Tom Werner said that throwing money at the problem won't necessarily work and that they have to be smart with money. The Redsox now have successful revenue schemes and it's through these that they were able to spend big in the past week, he also mentioned that Liverpool have revenues to be successful but these must be allocated properly.
Finally, as was apparent for most of the show the fans were expressing their concern with regards to Roy Hodgson and the managerial position. One of which asked the owners if they were aware that over 80% of fans wanted Hodgson out and that they thought he was far out of his depth. The fan also said that in 32 years of supporting the club he has never asked for the manager to be replaced but in his opinion Roy doesn't know what he's doing. Another caller said that whilst it wasn't NESV's decision to appoint Hodgson it's apparent that it was a huge mistake and an appointment that was made due to an agenda that was driven by the media. He wanted to know what they will do to ensure we don;t lose players of the calibre of Torres and Reina and the fact that quality needs to be added to both the playing staff and the management staff what with Roy's poor Premiership record of away wins (13 in his entire career in the Premiership!) Tom Werner said that they met with Roy today and whilst they understand where he is coming from they have made it clear to all concerned that major improvement is required. John Henry admitted that current play and performances are unacceptable and it's up to everybody associated with the club to take on teh responsibility of improving the fortunes.
It was a very enlightening phone in and all credit is due to the guys for giving their time and honesty in answering some difficult questions. Tom Werner closed out by saying he is privileged to work for one of the greatest clubs in the world and they are working on behalf of the fans to bring back the trophies that the fans and club deserve. John Henry asked for patience and said that so far it's been 2 months of non stop work but there will be no quick fix but they will meet fans' expectations and restore the club to greatness.