2MWKKBH President Barack Obama, center, reacts to being offered a 'midnight pardon' by Theo Epstein, right, Cubs' president of baseball operations for being a Chicago White Sox fan, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 16, 2017, where the president honored the 2016 World Series Champion baseball team. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

FSG hire ‘world’s greatest leader’ to search for next Liverpool manager

With Fenway Sports Group facing a big job in replacing Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool manager, the owners have brought in a world-leading American sports executive.

Klopp’s decision to leave Anfield at the end of the season was announced last week, having informed the club’s owners months previous.

The German did so on a call with FSG president Mike Gordon in November, with the owners pulling out all the stops in an attempt to convince to stay, but finding themselves unable to.

That leaves FSG needing to appoint a successor ahead of the new campaign, which is made more difficult in the absence of a sporting director.

Gordon himself is expected to lead the search, aided by head of research William Spearman, with Xabi Alonso, Roberto De Zerbi, Ruben Amorim, Thomas Frank, Ange Postecoglou and Julian Nagelsmann considered early candidates.

The process will now be overseen by Theo Epstein, the former president of baseball operations for baseball team the Chicago Cubs, as he joins FSG.

Per The Athletic, Epstein has been appointed as senior advisor for FSG, and will provide immediate consultation over the replacement of Klopp.

Epstein had previously worked with FSG as vice president and general manager for the Boston Red Sox, and is now a part-owner of the group.

He will work closely with Gordon, who he enjoys a “longstanding relationship” with “dating back for years,” though his remit covers FSG’s entire portfolio.

That includes Liverpool, the Red Sox, the Pittsburgh Penguins, RFK Racing, Boston Common Golf and as part of FSG’s new deal with the PGA Tour.

The 50-year-old is considered a leading figure in his field, and in 2017 topped Fortune magazine’s list of ‘The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders’.

Sam Kennedy, chief executive officer of FSG, told The Athletic: “Given the desire to win everywhere, we viewed this as tripling down on our commitment to winning.

“If our teams and clubs aren’t winning, there’s nothing to talk about. No one knows better how to win than Theo.”

In a statement to the Boston Globe, Liverpool’s principal owner John W. Henry said: “There is no question that Theo left an indelible mark on our history that represented a transformative era.”

“With his strategic mind, leadership, and unwavering passion for sports,” Henry added, “Theo brings invaluable assets that will drive us forward across our diverse enterprises.”

An announcement over Klopp’s successor is not expected to be made in the near future, with a thorough, data-driven search underway and no distractions wanted in a season that could bring four trophies.