This summer marks the third summer under the ownership of Fenway Sports Group at Liverpool FC. Crucially though it is also the first summer where the club actually has some stability entering the post-season.
The appointment of Brendan Rodgers and implementation of a transfer committee last summer, aligned with a clear policy and philosophy, has given Liverpool much-needed direction. Mistakes were made which are now being sought to be rectified and this summer provides another opportunity to rebuild the club’s overall stature and health.
Here are five suggestions that we believe FSG should look to implement at the club this summer.
1. Stadium Plans
We have finally heard more news on the planned development of Anfield and hopefully more will be revealed this summer once compulsory purchase orders have been completed.
A full timeline of development, with actual designs of the proposed plans, would certainly make pleasant viewing/reading for supporters this summer. It would show clear intent and a direction for the football club.
2. ‘Marquee’ signing(s)
Regardless of who departs the club this summer, FSG need to show they are prepared to pay good money for top talent. Yes, it is superb and prudent to sign within the club’s much discussed transfer policy – of which Philippe Coutinho is a prime example – but a big signing of the ilk of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and/or Kyriakos Papadopoulos would allay any disgruntlements of “asset stripping”. Which would be the criticism should the likes of Suarez, Reina, and even Johnson, depart, with no proven quality players of their calibre arrive to replace them.
3. Improved structure at the top
It’s fair to say that Ian Ayre isn’t exactly flavour of the month among certain sections of Liverpool supporters. Ayre was promoted to managing director of the club in March last year, a promotion from his previous role as commercial director. Many supporters felt disappointed that FSG had made another appointment who lacked experience in the role they were put into.
Ayre did great things for the commercial side but had no experience in his new role. Add to that the lack of experience from the owners themselves, and then add in the appointment of FSG’s Billy Hogan as the new commercial officer last May and the club’s hierarchy had literally no experience in Premier League football within the roles they occupied. No wonder huge mistakes were made last summer. Even manager Brendan Rodgers only had one year experience as a Premier League manager.
Thankfully, there have been signs of improvement in this area, and rumours of late suggest Hogan will move to Merseyside this summer having previously worked predominantly from across the Atlantic. Again, having a commercial officer, chairman and principal owner on another continent can hardly be a positive.
There are also rumours that Hogan will be appointed the club’s chief executive imminently. Hogan has been quoted in numerous press articles surrounding the club of late, showing an increased involvement and this would seem like a progression that will improve the overall club structure.
4. Kenny Dalglish
There have been reports linking The King with a return to Anfield in an ambassadorial role and this would be another significant and positive step to improve the club off the pitch.
Prior to his appointment as caretaker and then permanent manager, Kenny was working in a similar role with focus on the Academy. A return to such a position would be healthy for all involved. Even better would be Kenny joining the board of directors in a similar role to that of Bobby Charlton at Manchester United.
5. John Barnes
Quite simply, get Digger involved. Ideally in a spokesperson or again an ambassadorial role. Whenever controversy has surrounded the club – see Suarez – Barnes has been the one to provide sensible discussion of the topics. He speaks with reason, intelligence and passion. Brendan Rodgers has said he would like to get former greats involved in the club and Barnes would certainly be an easy one to begin with.
None of the above are unrealistic – only the stadium plans are somewhat out of FSG’s control. The appointment of a chief executive, Dalglish as a director, Barnes as an ambassador, plus positive moves in the transfer market, would show evidence of FSG’s intent and direction for the club.