The First Big Test for John Henry – Fernando Torres

Posted: January 30, 2011 by mcdonaldtaf in Liverpool FC, Team Talk
Tags: , , , ,

Surprisingly, no one started a book on the first real challenge John Henry and co. would face at Liverpool Football Club.  The odds would have been very short on stadium funding, newly surfacing fan frustration or financing problems. None of these would have been too surprising, given the preceding three years under American ownership. Although tarring Fenway Sports Group with the same brush as Hicks and Gillett would have proved unfair, based on their performance to date.

Some may of course point to the Hodgson era, as short-lived as it was, being a big test. Realistically though it wasn’t. There was no battle in the face of such damning evidence. The troubles faced under Hodgson were always going to be easier to fix compared to the loss of our talisman. In fact the removal of Hodgson and appointment of Dalglish were very good reasons for the odds on any player slapping in a transfer request lengthening.

Hodgson was never at the club to steady the ship, a ship which was too large by far for him to navigate – never mind steady. The ship was always in danger of capsizing due to the extreme weight of ballast we were carrying. Ballast taken on board by the incompetent business deals constructed by Hicks, Gillett and Purslow.  Hodgson was always likely to be the scapegoat (even if he didn’t know it) or, at the very best, there to just try and stop people jumping overboard. It is likely he would not have been able to stop Torres talking of jumping ship, in fact Torres’ decision could be understood better had Hodgson still been in charge. But the odds looked a lot longer after Dalglish was appointed and Torres talked about his respect for Kenny.

But Hodgson, Hicks, Gillett and Purslow are all falling further away in the rear view mirror. Fenway Sports Group have acquitted themselves very well during the early spell of their tenure. No rushing into decisions or capitulating to fan pressure, but very little dilly-dallying either. Pick a word to describe their performance to date and it would have to be ‘competent’. Which is actually outstanding given the steep learning curve they are negotiating. This together with the signing of Suarez, in the unpopular January transfer window, should have been enough to show Torres we are now more than steadied. We’re moving forwards and gaining momentum. Therein lies the confusion. Improving results – check, a manager he can respect – check, new quality signing – check, stability – check and visible progress – check. The timing just simply doesn’t stack up. Especially given the sudden urgency during this transfer window.

I, for one, can understand why he may want to leave (in the summer) – and it comes down to wanting success rather than money in my opinion; coupled with too many broken promises in the past (not the fault of the new owners). Is success better assured at Chelsea in the short to medium term? Yes, of course it is. Bigger warchest, more recent consistent success and a quality squad. People were too quick in writing them off at the start of this season and they looked certain to retain their title until the Wilkins saga, whatever that was. Yes, some of their squad is ageing. But are we saying that Gerrard will be not worth starting next season? Only Lampard, Drogba and Anelka (and Torres would replace one of the latter two) are older than Gerrard and each of them I would suggest have at least one more season in them. Going by the all too easily spouted logic about Chelsea being too old to compete, Inter Milan should not have completed a treble last season.  Chelsea also possess plenty of quality who are sub-30. Which leads you to question where all this talk of a ‘re-building’ at Chelsea being required is coming from. Like I said, there was no one  stronger at the start of the season.

So whatever has happened, has happened. There is nothing we can do to change it. Purely from a pragmatic point of view – ‘star striker wants best assurances of success’. That is a personal decision for him to take, weighing up the different options. It is easy to understand, at this moment in time, why Chelsea looks a better bet than us. It is important to also remember that this is not the first time we have been here. Torres has been very clear about what he wants every time – success. Unfortunately he’s acquired a whole litter of pups sold to him by the previous owners and management.

So Fenway Sports Group face their first major challenge at Liverpool Football Club. They must find a way to persuade Torres they can deliver what he yearns, what we all yearn. They’ll need to do so while navigating a course through the wreckage left behind by their previous incumbents and in the face of a competitor in Chelsea who could turn the eye of most star players. Torres does not require any more pups and nor do we. It is a shame that during a time of ever increasing optimism under the new ownership, when things really do look like we’re getting there, he has chosen now to deal this blow. It is the timing and manner of the move which has angered and confused. But at times we all reflect on our lives.  Rarely do we have any say in when this reflection will take place.

Of course it may be that Fenway Sports Group have different ideas on time-scales for success. The bridge between the two may simply be a divide too far, Torres may feel it’s too much of a personal risk to take. Fenway Sports Group may be unable to accelerate their plans. If this is the case then it probably is best that he leaves. But not now.

Fenway must succeed in their first major challenge – keeping Torres and keeping a key component at the club motivated for the remainder of the season. New instability, now we’ve finally found some rhythm, could have significant repercussions. At the very least they must ensure that any further talk of him leaving is now put to one side, at least until the summer.

  1. Aditya says:

    Terry is older also. If you look at it, I think we have the better team. If all our boys perform, we’re better than Chelsea man to man

  2. chris riles says:

    Brilliant write up and i could see where torres was coming from a few months ago, but not now and yet i feel for nando don’t want him to go and yes the timing could have been better.Just cant get my head round it ,i thought we would build are team around nando and really have ago at winning a trophy this season and definitely next season.Any way i have total trust in KENNY DALGLISH.

  3. Byrne says:

    Better man to man? Be serious. Chelsea down the left wing and full backs r much better. Consider makelele or however u spell that, twice the player Lucas is. Drogba better than torres, more reliable, stronger.

  4. Sam Wanjere says:

    No Mac, FT9 wants to go, let him. He must have thought through the implications of handing in a transfer request just hours before the window closes. Assuming it’s a bluff he’s calling, how much time does he leave LFC to find a replacement? We’ve been crying for signings, and we now have Suarez, then this guy requests to leave?

    If he wants out, let him get it. We need that 35-50m for rebuilding. In fact, there’ll be lots more blossoming of talent with his enormous shadow out. Personally I want this deal concluded soonest to allow us beat midnight of 31st January.

    Torres knows what Kop support means and he’s still decided to pursue this action. I’m all for him leaving. We WILL survive his departure, just as we survived Owen’s, Keegan’s, Rush’s.

  5. Dave Jones says:

    I can’t believe that Chelsea have a better immediate future ahead of them than Liverpool, if this is what Torres feels!

    The success that Chelsea have accrued over recent times has been largely down to 4 players: Cech, Terry, Lampard & Drogba, all the other players in the Chelsea squad have complemented these 4 world class players.

    However time really does catch up and one feels that age is catching up with these players hence why this season each one of those players have suffered with injuries that have taken longer in their rehabilitation.

    John Terry is only 30 and is currently playing game to game with pain killing injections and it is only a matter of time before he becomes immune to them and dare I say it his career will be over sooner rather than later.

    Petr Cech has not been the same keeper since his fateful accident when he had to have brain surgery and he now plays week in week out with the protective helmet. Not going in for challenges the 100% that he used to.

    Didier Drogba will be 33 in March and is becoming more and more injury prone too with niggling injuries and he is playing in fits and starts and one wonders if he can keep up for another season, I have my doubts!

    Frank Lampard will be 33 in June and is also becoming more and more injury prone and his last injury he was out for quite awhile when initial reports said he wouldn’t be out as long as he was.

    I really don’t see Chelsea being able to compete with the likes of Arsenal & Man City next season with doubts about their 4 main players! Liverpool have a team relatively young and on the up and I genuinely feel that next season they will surpass Chelsea in league positions! Hell I still think Liverpool have a chance to pass Chelsea this season even if we are 9 points behind them! The game in 2 weeks time will tell us a lot because if Liverpool beat Chelsea, Torres if he is a Chelsea player then will start to feel like a silly boy! Just like Michael Owen did when he did exactly the same thing as Torres is doing now in the January 2005 transfer window when Liverpool went on to beat A C Milan in the greatest ever football match the world has ever seen in that same season!

    I would love Liverpool to keep Torres, however if he feels we aren’t up to matching his immediate ambitions I really think somebody needs to have a word about Chelsea’s immediate future because it’s not as bright as he seems to think!

  6. […] The First Big Test for John Henry – Fernando Torres Surprisingly, no one started a book on the first real challenge John Henry and co. would face at Liverpool Football […] […]

  7. Pasty says:

    Makelele left chumpski rent boys bout 3 years ago, and to Dave jones- Michael Owen left in the summer of ’04 not January 05, as he was unused sub on the bench for us at the Arnold schwarzenneger stadium in are first champs league qualifier of that famous campaign and fucked off to Madrid the next day,

  8. Ed Margerum says:

    Fenway Sports’ Red Sox operation has a standing rule of not negotiating with players during the season. As they have noted to Torres, they expect him to honour his contract. The field manager is the main man in dealing with the players and only in exceptional cases does the general manager get called in. Kenny Dalglish will be the person keeping Torres involved and focused. If Kenny can continue his run of successes while keeping Torres happy, a contract renewal should be in the works. The Big Test is on Kenny’s back.

    You speculate that Torres’ problem may be his desire for championships or that he’s looking for more money. Either is valid. Perhaps pride plays a role. Does Torres feel threatened by the acquisition of Suarez? Liverpool paid a bigger transfer fee for Suarez than for Torres. Players can fixate on having gotten the largest salary/transfer fee etc. Torres might also consider the hiring of a younger striker a sign of disrespect. I’ve seen that kind of problem arise in baseball. Star players like to be alone in the limelight. There are things we don’t consider with an unhappy player. The player’s wife is one of these things. If your wife isn’t happy, you aren’t happy. I’ve seen cases where a player wanted to be somewhere else because that’s what their wife wanted. (I don’t think that’s true in Torres’ case.)

  9. Ed Margerum says:

    I’d say JH passed. LFC is a better club today than it was yesterday and with the £50 million transfer fee for Torres, the overall magnitude of transfer tally to LFC hasn’t been crushing.

    Andy Carroll conforms to Kuper and Szymanski’s 11th golden rule of the transfer market: “Buy players with personal problems, and then help them deal with their problems”

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