Premier League - Early Doors: Fenway to do things their way

Wed, 23 May 08:02:00 2012

While it may be a boring cliche to state that a week is a long time in football, it is true that a lot can change in seven days.

2011-12 Liverpool owner John Henry captain Steven Gerrard - 0

This time last week, for example, Chelsea were odds-on to finish as runners-up in a second Champions League final, West Ham were still in the Championship and portly Montpellier president Louis Nicollin was not sporting a red-and-blue Mohawk.

For better or worse, all those situations have changed in the past week, but in other respects the same length of time may not prove long enough to get things done.

It was only seven days ago that Kenny Dalglish was sacked as manager of Liverpool, with theoretically a whole summer ahead in which to find a replacement. How hard could it be to find a boss who is less likely to engage in constant - and increasingly bitter - exchanges with the media while not trying to convince people that kit deals are worth more than Premier League points?

But the club's fans are already getting jittery over how owners Fenway Sports Group are handling the situation at such a pivotal time in the club's modern history.

Liverpool fan group Spirit of Shankly have sent an open letter to FSG, which reads: "Confusion and chaos seems to reign and no one is coming out of this with much credit, particularly the football club's image and brand.

"We need clear and pro-active communication, a confident message about the club's plans that breeds confidence amongst supporters that we are moving in the right direction.

"Instead, we have silence and a lack of information or understanding on decisions being made."

FSG have had approaches to Swansea's Brendan Rodgers, Borussia Dortmund's Juergen Klopp and Ajax's Frank de Boer politely declined since they got rid of Dalglish. While the club's American owners have been methodically trying to establish a shortlist of candidates to take the job, their efforts have been somewhat unfairly painted as the recruitment equivalent of staggering around a local nightclub at 1:45 hoping someone — anyone — will acquiesce to their advances.

However, the wheels are turning on a major overhaul among the club's hierarchy which began with Damien Comolli's departure back in mid-April. There was a short time when it seemed the only people remaining at Anfield were the cleaners -but now vacancies are starting to get filled.

The club's new head of communications is Jen Chang, who was previously a senior editor for Sports Illustrated. Billy Hogan, currently FSG's managing director, is to take over as Liverpool's commercial director this summer. The post of sporting director has been created, a role which will carry a different brief to that of director of football strategy which Comolli held previously. Louis van Gaal has emerged as the favourite to take that job.

Once the structure is in place the new manager — be it Andre Villas-Boas, Roberto Martinez, Didier Deschamps or whoever - can be dropped right into a set-up already geared towards helping them achieve improvements on the pitch.

So FSG are quietly going about their business of reshaping the club into something they can manage more easily. Making declarations every other day, regardless of whether they have anything to announce or not, would only make them look weaker than the efficient way they are progressing with their current plans.

When FSG won their High Court battle against previous owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett a little more than 18 months ago, they did not immediately step in, fire everyone and turn the place upside down. They let the people who supposedly knew what they were doing get on with the job (i.e. engage in massive over-spending and underachievement). Now, they are going to do things their way.

Fans have every right to fret over who the next man in the Anfield dugout will be, but if they are worried about the calibre of realistic candidates being mooted now then they should remember how the job was a far less appealing prospect not so long ago.

This time, without Dalglish's glowering presence from on high and with what feels like a clean slate at boardroom level, the foundations might just be being laid for Liverpool to attack the future with renewed purpose.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "It has been difficult for him, but he has showed he is the man. Next season is going to be his season and I will try to speak to him. We have a good relationship. We don't understand why we didn't play together more, but that's the past. Torres is the future." — Didier Drogba backs Chelsea team-mate Fernando Torres to shine after confirming he will leave the club this summer.

FOREIGN VIEW: "On an individual level I give my season a 10/10, but collectively we are a 9/10 because we want to win more - the Champions League for example." — Cristiano Ronaldo exhibits his trademark modesty when assessing his and Real Madrid's performance this season. Then again, after scoring 60 goals for the club last term but only winning one trophy, can you argue with him?

COMING UP: Jim White will be dropping by with his take on a few rather eventful days in the game, while away from football we will have live coverage of Stage 17 of the Giro D'Italia.

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