The American Way

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By Sam Albiston (@salbiston93)

The decision of John Henry and his colleagues at the Fenway Sports Group to
dispense with the services of Kenny Dalglish was met with widespread derision
by many fans, despite the disappointment the decision should not have come
as surprise. John Henry has a reputation as a winner, we where aware of this
when he arrived, and the decisions he has taken since then have served to only
further strengthen this appraisal. To put it bluntly, Henry does not tolerate
failure and his record at the Boston Red Sox will testify to that and he does not
let emotion or sentiment get in the way of his decisions, this is surely a positive
trait. This ruthlessness and desire to win, has been evident in the past three
months with the sackings of Damien Comolli as Director Of Football, Ian Cotton
as Director Of Communications and of course of Dalglish himself. It would be
difficult to form an argument, that any of these men where succeeding in their
respective roles. Although Comolli’s role in transfer dealings has never been
made entirely clear, we can safely assume that in his role as Director Of Football,
he was ultimately responsible for them. The subsequent failure of those signings
ultimately cost both Comolli and Dalglish their jobs. It is a strange world where
those responsible for the poor performances (i.e. the players) are not the ones
punished, although football is a strange world.

As many of us will be aware, there are numerous parallels, which can be drawn
between the Boston Red Socks and Liverpool particularly at the time of the
Fenway Sports Group’s acquisition of them. Both where clubs or franchises
steeped in history, but which by comparison to their rich history had been
experiencing a lean period in recent years. Crucially, the Fenway Sports Group
where able to bring the glory days back to Fenway Park with historic World
Series triumphs in 2004 and 2007. The manager at the time was a man called
Terry Francona, naturally owing to the teams recent success, Francona had been
elevated to the point of local hero, in fact the regard in which he was held was
almost as high as our own Kenny Dalglish. Success in sport in cyclical, at some
point even the best teams have a blip, and the Red Sox experienced their blip in
September 2011 losing 20 of their 27 matches that month. Given their success
over the years, this would seem by many to be a blip whereas in reality it was
much more than that, the Red Sox had blown one of the biggest leads ever in the
history of Major League Baseball. Perhaps a sentimental man, or a less ruthless
man may have looked upon the collapse differently, but for John Henry this
constituted failure, and in to him failure is unacceptable. Naturally, Francona
was dispensed of ahead of the next season in much the same way as Dalglish has
been dispensed of at Anfield. A fans opinion on the sacking of Kenny Dalglish is
dependent on their definition of success, is success defined by trophies in the
cabinet or is it decided by your final league position. For John Henry and his
compatriots at Fenway Sports Group, it is the latter. The situation was handled
in ruthless if slightly insensitive way, but as John Henry had proved only months
earlier he is not a man who relies overly on sentiment.

The choice of Brendan Rodgers, as the man to replace Kenny Dalglish may seem
a curious one to some, however upon closer inspection he might just what
the club and particularly FSG have been looking for. If you cast your minds back to when Fenway Sports Group last sacked a Liverpool manager for poor
performances (Roy Hodsgon), it was no secret that they wanted young talented
manager with fresh ideas to come into the club. As it transpired, no suitable
replacement was available at the time and the job was given to Dalglish on a
temporary basis. In the beginning, the ambition was for Dalglish to take the team
through to the end of the season, at which point a new appointment could be
made, someone more in keeping with the vision FSG had for the club. As we all
now know Dalglish’s impact was instant, improving not only the performance
of the team but seemingly restoring a bit of soul to the club which had been
seriously lacking. Such was Dalglish’s impact, that FSG where almost forced into
handing him the job on a permanent basis a failure to do so what have been
unthinkable. It should be considered at this point that Kenny Dalglish was not
the man John Henry had in mind to take the club forward, Brendan Rodgers
however strange as it my seem to some is that man.

Comparisons between John Henry’s actions at Liverpool and his actions in
Boston, can be extended to his choice of coach. It is clear, that when Henry
appoints a coach or a manager, he is looking for a man with fresh ideas, for
Liverpool that man is Brendan Rodgers and for the Boston Red Sox it was a man
called Bobby Valentine. Bobby Valentine, although not as young as Brendan
Rodgers shares the characteristic of not being hugely experienced at least not
recently in their respective competitions. As we all know, much of Brendan
Rodgers career has been spent managing teams in the championship and the
youth team at Chelsea, and in much the same way most of Bobby Valentines
senior coaching career was spent in Japan. These facts, suggest that not only
is Henry searching for innovative coaches, he himself is innovative in terms
of where the coaches are appointed from. Although it is still early in Bobby
Valentine’s career in Boston, the early signs are good, the Red Sox have won over
half of their games in first two months of the season, if Brendan Rodgers can do
the same then he will have answered his few doubters.


  1. I agree with the over all sentiment of your article, but Bobby Valentine is a “retread manager” in Major League Baseball since 1985. His last coaching stint happened to be in Japan and he was a TV analyst before getting back into coaching with the Red Sox.

    1. Yes your right, the point i was trying to convey was that John Henry is not afraid to take a bit of a gamble

  2. The red Sox are stone last in their conference. Henry had a hissy fit and made a mistake. Much like he made a mistake in sacking Dalglish.

    1. Are you being wilfully disingenuous or do you just not understand baseball? It’s not even 1/3 way through the season and the Red Sox are only 6 games off the best record in the league. They’re last in their division because the AL East has all 5 teams on a better than .500 record. If they have 3 days of results go their way they’d be back in first, that’s how close it is. And the season is 162 games long, I think they have enough time to catch up.
      I can’t see how anyone would be happy with a big name team missing the playoffs two seasons in a row. Kind of like we’re not happy no longer being in the champions league. That’s what happened at Boston so it was a long time coming and it certainly wasn’t all about one month of results. It was the end of a period of difficult times in the club. Similarly, giving Kenny a season and a half to show his worth and then letting him go isn’t an over-reaction. If there was any sign of improvement it might have been interesting but it just wasn’t there. We got worse as a team the longer the season went on. I can’t see any way in which we were going to get better and I think it’s fair to say that Kenny didn’t have any ideas that were able to convince FSG otherwise.

  3. I think you’re trying to make a good point, but the parallel should be drawn to when Henry adopted the moneyball methods early 2003-ish having seen a 80-something year championship drought. The Red Sox lost a highly influential figure in gm Theo Epstein and are currently in last place under the guidance of Valentine who’s credentials will always be traced to failing to get over the hump with the New York Mets. Needless to say he’s got his hands full with them too.
    However, I do agree that he has an exceptional eye for cutting loses as well as bringing in the right people at the right time.
    The Reds will flourish sooner rather than later no doubt.

  4. The only thing John Henry wants to win is money.This is the basis on which Fsg will run the club.Carling cup or Fa cup success will not bring the real big bucks in.No surprise to see the ruthlessness following on in their approach.If we have success down the line and U see John Henry smiling and applauding in the stand just remember he’s only thinking $$$$$$$$ signs before U start getting too emotional about how much they love Liverpool.I wont be complaining either.

    1. Eh Joe every good business strives to make money, if football clubs dont make money they cant buy new players, invest in stadium improvements and most importantly buy new players. Fsg have a plan that has worked before and will implement it for Liverpool, its worked before give them a chance to try it again.

  5. After i’ve read ur article. I believe your word.

    It was no secret that they wanted young talented
    manager with fresh ideas to come into the club. As it transpired, no suitable
    replacement was available at the time and the job was given to Dalglish on a
    temporary basis. In the beginning, the ambition was for Dalglish to take the team
    through to the end of the season, at which point a new appointment could be
    made, someone more in keeping with the vision FSG had for the club.


  6. Dalglish spent the money of henry just for mickey mouse cup we need new ideas dalglish was a disaster for the club since january 2011, no CL, we played only 20 mn in cup final, poor game,poor result,poors singnings

  7. Interesting news in the Echo and Guardian today, looking like FSG and the Council are working together to regenerate the area around Anfield and to redevelop Anfield to a 60,000 seater stadium.

  8. Aaagh! ‘Where’ means what is the location of something. Anything else is spelt ‘were’! Fucking idiot, do you actually want anyone to read your stuff?

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