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The Footie File

By David McBride

Sunglasses in Liverpool?


When the Boston Red Sox bought Liverpool in the autumn of 2010, fans of the Reds were filled with hope and promise.  The previous owners had nearly destroyed their proud and beloved club who once stood at the top of European football, and it seemed things could only get better.  But now, as we approach two years since the acquisition, the club stands at a crossroads and the team’s performance this year will go a long well to explaining just how long term Mr. Henry’s project exactly is.

King Kenny Dalglish returned to his throne on Merseyside after a short and unsuccessful tenure by Roy Hodgson, the current England national team coach.  While few questioned the firing of Hodgson at the time, people are starting to question whether dismissing Hodgson so quickly was such a good idea after all.  Uncle Roy has done well with other clubs, and hardly had much money to work with at Liverpool.  Instead, Dalglish piloted a spending spree that seems to have done very little to improve the fortunes of Liverpool.

But that is all history now, and the club has turned yet another page in their illustrious book with the hiring of Brendan Rodgers to take over for the dethroned King.  The problem is a look into the future, especially the immediate future, does not seem to require a pair of Ray Ban’s any more than our gaze into the past did.  

Let’s face it, even the most fanatical supporter of Liverpool will admit this weekend’s opening fixture was nothing short of a disaster.  West Bromwich Albion took them to the cleaners with a 3-0 beat down.  Now, I wouldn’t normally think a road loss in the first game of the season is a big deal, but the way the team played ought to have alarm bells ringing at Anfield when thinking about the next few games on the schedule.

This weekend Liverpool hosts Manchester City, the reigning league champions.  That game is followed by a home match against Arsenal, away to an improved Sunderland team, and then home again to their most hated rivals, Manchester United.  If Rodgers doesn’t make huge improvements in his team’s performance over this past weekend’s game, it is hard to see the Reds earning more than a handful of points from those games.  And would any one really be shocked if they earned only one or two?  Or none at all?  And how patient will fans and media be if such a scenario, two points out of five games, becomes reality?  How patient will the media be?  

For some reason or another, the Boston Red Sox are associated with all this talk in baseball circles of Moneyball, a system of finding and nurturing young players while supplementing them with cheaper veterans, brought in to the MLB by the Oakland Athletics and their General Manager Billy Beane.  Boston may not have spent as much as the Yankees, but they certainly did spend more than everyone else in the league.  In the two years they won the World Series, they were second in payroll only to New York, hardly a Moneyball strategy.  

I guess my point is this, if Liverpool fans think Henry has come here to build a project based on a longterm goal of youth development they are sadly mistaken.  Henry has never done that before.  So it is hard to say what exactly will happen if Rodgers fails.  Henry has already spent a boatload of cash, and if Rodgers can’t get results than the future at Anfield is a dark place indeed.


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