When John Henry took over from Hicks and Gillett, most Liverpool fans were thrilled. Seemingly for good reason (FSG has been far better for the club then the previous owners had been). The current redevelopment of Anfield an important piece of evidence for improvement in ownership.
FSG or Fenway Sports Group, named for the famous home of the Boston Red Sox own two of the largest sports brands in the world. The Red Sox and Liverpool are huge names, with millions of fans. And the similarities don’t end there. Both look back to periods of success long since past as their claim to fame, though under FSG the Red Sox have won two World Series (baseball championships) in the time since John Henry took over, the first ending a title drought of 86 years. Both play in storied, old stadiums, one was redeveloped, ours is currently being redeveloped. Finally, this season for the Red Sox seems strikingly similar to what we as Liverpool fans just observed.
John Henry spent a huge sum to help Boston to remain competitive this season, $180 million. And yet the team under-preforms, there is no question of the talent of the players, much like Liverpool. But the team has not meshed and as the baseball season progresses the Red Sox find themselves in a dire situation.
The Manager of this baseball team speaks openly and the players recognize the need for change, and yet nothing seems to click. Much like what we saw from Liverpool, a team far too talented to lose 6-1 to Stoke.
Many Boston Red Sox fans claim a lack of identity as the cause for dysfunction. Unfortunately many Kopites would claim the same. Neither have a clear direction. Red Sox fans wonder if their ownership is content to watch the team struggle as long as their payday comes. And with a wide fan base and well attended stadium, the paydays aren’t going to stop. Liverpool will also always be a steady source of income, remaining very valuable even without any major success in recent times.
So does FSG have the desire to try and fix their teams? If they do see the need are their attempts simply misguided?
It is surprising that both teams face such similar issues. But it is hard to argue that attempts have not been made, large amounts of money were spent to help both teams improve. Yet as Liverpool spent that money in all the wrong places, so did the Boston Red Sox.
So how can we move forward?
A culture must be developed at Liverpool. The 13-14 season had many believing we had found that culture, as we saw the attractive, entertaining football Rodgers promised. Yet as we lost Suarez and spent money on the wrong players that culture got lost. The team lacked confidence and the progress we had made disappeared in a lack of strike power and horrid defense.
There is a possibility to fix these issues. We need players of known quality; Steven Gerrard must be replaced by an established name. The problems can be solved and the club can move forward. All that is left is to see what FSG will do. If they spend their money well, or continue to invest in the wrong places. This coming season has to begin with some momentum to turn things around. The new birth of August needs to spur Liverpool on as proven talent joins the likes of Henderson, Coutinho, and Sturridge allowing us to reclaim our place among the elite of the Premier League, and Europe.
FSG has to change its approach. If it does, we may have a chance to put this season behind us.
Oh, and a brief congratulations are in order for Luis Suarez. It is a small consolation to him leaving, that he left to score the Champions League winning goal completing a treble. Congrats Luis!