There is a dark irony in John Henry’s invoking “The Liverpool Way” in his recent letter to supporters about his disappointment regarding what can only be called a catastrophic final day of the transfer window. While winning is supposed to be part of the ethos established by the Boot Room Boys, so is keeping your business behind closed doors.
While I can absolutely appreciate an attempt to concede mistakes, demonstrate a modicum of accountability, and even placate fans loyal to the club, the very fact that anyone felt the need to provide a public statement of this order not only rings a little hollow but exposes the fact that Fenway Sports Group is still searching to get it – The Liverpool Way.
There is no question that it is early in yet another new Anfield “project,” possibly the most annoying word being bandied about in club football at the moment. Yet, the worst start in forty years, coupled with a series of significantly questionable decisions warrant every supporter around the globe to pause.
There is little doubt that new manager Brendan Rogers has a plan. He wasted no time in clearing out nearly all of Dalglish’s players, letting a handful of others leave of their own accord, and trying to purge the wasted wages from the squad. From the rumors nearly every Commoli-Dalglish target may be moved before the season’s end. In fact, it is without question Rodgers wants a certain type of player but has it even looked remotely like Steven Gerrard is that type?
Yet, in retooling the side, Rodgers has bought or rented a handful of youngsters, unproven under the weight of Premier League performance, let alone at a club that continues to suffer under the weight of expectations. Moreover, Rodgers is being quoted saying things like, “Young Players will run through a fence for you,” and “I think of my players like sons.” There is a lot to be said for building with youth, but at the moment, it looks more like Rogers is running an academy team than an historic club to which he has “dedicated his life.”
Sorely lacking experience, Clint Dempsey may have been a quality addition. I am not convinced he would have been the answer to their scoring woes, but he might have been an answer. There is no way he would have been enough quality talent folded into the club. Then to botch things so badly as the transfer window slammed shut just makes everyone at the club look bad. To lose a player of proven quality, still in the prime of his career, over $2 or 3million, especially considering it was significantly under $9-10 million early summer valuation seems completely mad.
Had Fenway Sports Group signed him before their preseason trip to Boston’s Fenway Park, they could have likely made up the difference in shirt sales alone. American owners bringing in the most successful American player in Europe, as part of a rebuilding effort for one of the greatest historic clubs in England, makes for a pretty compelling storyline.
The story alone may have had resell value. It surely would have drawn even more American soccer fans the Reds way. Plus, he clearly wanted to go to the club. How many players do they have making that abundantly clear at the moment?
Now the cupboard is practically bare and there are even less hints as to where the goals will come from for a team that finished last season with the most dreadful of finishing percentages. While it is way too early to cast judgments about new manager Brendan Rodgers, I think every supporter has at least wondered if the wrong Swansea manager was selected, as Michael Laudrup’s Swansealona opened the season with a decided surge and goals galore.
Prior to the season’s start it was hard to find a more compelling narrative in the Premier League than what was going on at Liverpool Football Club. There was both a sense of the Liverpool being at a crossroads and the hope of a hungry regime beginning to impose a new turn in a restorative vision. Maybe, just maybe, some of the old Liverpool Way could be re-energized.
Soon there may be no one left that could even find it let alone give it new life. That once compelling narrative could well turn out to look a whole lot more like B-movie horror show, low on money, low on talent, and scary for all the wrong reasons.
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