Patrick Tracey argues that in order for Liverpool to progress this summer, Fenway Sports Group need to ensure that they give Jürgen Klopp absolute financial backing.
Okay, let me state for the record that I am something of a delusional Liverpool Football Club fanatic – to the point where I don’t want them to just win the Premier League next season. Nor would I be happy if they only won the Premier League while going undefeated.
No, no, no. I’d like the Reds to win the Premier League next season while going undefeated and not conceding a single goal the entire campaign.
I’ve even decided how I plan on celebrating the occasion: I’m going to lease a Cherry-red Porsche and have it sent to London, where I plan on driving on the wrong side of the road with my Labrador Retriever Bucket in the passenger’s seat, sporting his Liverpool dog collar with the St. Francis of Assisi medal draped from it.
Yes, Bucket and I are going to buzz through North London and flip-off the Arsenal fans, congratulate Tottenham for another second-place finish and tell Chelsea, “Too bad!” before we head to the gates of Hades that is Manchester. We’ll offer condolences to City (sorry, I like Pep and Noel Gallagher) and then scream at Mourinho that it’s probably time for him to spend hundreds of millions of pounds elsewhere for more underachieving results before showering him with Holy Water and watching his skin burst into flames.
And all we’ll need to ensure this dream comes true is for Fenway Sports Group to play its part.
Since 2010, when FSG purchased Liverpool Football Club from mongrels Gillett and Hicks, the rumours were that FSG would try and quickly turn around and re-sell the club and make a killer profit. To date, however, the owners have resisted attempts at any direct buyout of Liverpool FC from a third party, but they have maintained they would be open to selling a small stake in the club.
Then, in April 2017 it was reported that the Chinese consortium, Everbright, reignited their interest at full ownership of Liverpool Football Club and apparently have no concerns about FSG’s current estimated value of the club at somewhere north of £1bn.
Is it possible that FSG will sell its stake in Liverpool? Sure, but it should be remembered that they’ve sunk a lot of money into refurbishing Anfield and getting Liverpool out of the debt that the financial calamity of Gillett and Hicks put the Club in.
Also, FSG signed Jürgen Klopp to a contract extension and the squad has made great strides in Klopp’s short time in charge. In other words: they’re about to see the fruits of their labour, so why would FSG cut bait now?
And here’s the thing about FSG: owners John Henry and Tom Werner are really competitive guys. Their baseball team, the Boston Red Sox, have the third-highest payroll in Major League Baseball for the 2017 season at $199,805,178. FSG spends a lot of money and they’re not averse to spending even more of it to make the Red Sox better.
And that’s good to see, especially if FSG will splash the cash during Liverpool’s upcoming off-season. And an infusion of money from ownership is going to be necessary, whether LFC is playing Champions League or Europa League.
Presently, the Reds look like they’re running on fumes as they try and make it over the finish line, with each additional injury or knock leading this particular fan to worry that it will spoil the season. Games that were won 4-1 in November are nail-biting affairs now, with the club trying to hold on while Watford’s one good shot strikes the crossbar and ricochets away.
The talent in the squad must be increased. Next season, in the waning minutes of a tight game, the centre-back who comes onto the pitch has got to be a whole lot better than Ragnar Klavan. And as far as I can tell, that will happen only through the transfer window.
Is Sadio Mané a star? Without a doubt and to me, he’s been the squad’s top performer this season. But whether it’s an injury to him or his participation in the AFCON, Mané’s absence can’t hold next season hostage.
And the only way to remedy that is for Fenway Sports Group to give Jürgen Klopp pretty much a blank check and let him properly add quality depth to the squad, unlike the reserves that were seen on the bench during the Crystal Palace debacle.
There have been a lot of people, myself included, who have been punishingly brutal in assessing FSG’s frugal ways. But in a couple of weeks, all that changes and this is where we separate the wheat from the chaff, the ears from the nubbins.
Here’s hoping FSG is prepared to play its part.