Werner, unlike many, believes our transfer business has been GOOD…
Courtesy of the Liverpool Echo, here’s the full transcript of the interview with chairman Tom Werner, who speaks Brendan, attacking football, Sterling, transfers and the stadium expansion.
Q. How important is it to the club in general – and Brendan Rodgers in particular perhaps – that the team maintains this momentum and makes the top four to qualify again for Champions League football?
“I want to make sure I give great credit to Brendan and his coaching staff for what he has done. We have to look at not just the play each week, but the positive direction that is going on at the club.
“I don’t know if the word is critical – it certainly is important to make top four but it’s important that we continue this positive momentum.
“We’ll all be disappointed if we don’t make top four but I’ll be disappointed if we don’t win the FA Cup for Steven Gerrard in his last year at the club.
“And not just for Steven but for our fans.
“It’s important that we continue to progress in the right direction.
Q. Looking back to last month’s transfer window, was it a strategic decision not to spend on incomings and what would you say to any fans fearing it might illustrate a loss of faith or a reduced commitment now?
”I’m glad you asked that question because I have a very positive view about the transfer group at Liverpool.
“I feel that the work of our transfer group has really been excellent. You know Brendan has played a key role in it but its also important to acknowledge the work of Michael Edwards (Head of Analytics) and Dave Fallows (Head of Recruitment) and Barry Hunter (Chief Scout) and Ian Ayre as well as the work that John Henry and Mike Gordon (FSG) and I have done.
“Obviously I am partial to the decisions that have been made but if you look at the players who were playing on the pitch on Tuesday against Tottenham, there was a lot of very positive play by a number of important contributors.
“When you go through it I am proud of it.
“The 2013 window saw Daniel Sturridge and Phillipe Coutinho join, Simon Mignolet and Mamadou Sakho. But our transfer targets last summer included people who really played well on Tuesday, including Lovren and Lallana – who made the key pass to Balotelli – Emre Can, Markovic.
“The thing that I am encouraged about is that these are players are in their 20s and I think their talents will only improve as they grow as a group.
“Listen, I may be looking at this in a rose coloured glasses way, but I actually don’t think so. We have had a lot of feedback from scouts and from other teams in the Premier League and around the world, who feel we’ve got some real world class talent.
“So I do feel that the work that the transfer committee has done has been more favourable that certainly some people have written about.
Q. I guess you’d say the progress being made by likes of Raheem Sterling, Emre Can and Jordon Ibe fits well with FSG’s philosophy on investing in young talent and developing it – but that aside is there still scope for ‘finished article’ signings too?
“I’m not going to say that there aren’t exceptions to the rule but we feel that it is valuable to have a team that can coalesce for the long term.
“Every individual signing can be debated. But we are building a team that we think is only going to get stronger.
“And as you know we are going to add an exceptional striker we hope to that mix next year in Divock Origi.
“So I think that we have a nucleus of a team that will continue to be excellent.
Q. What do you think of the progress being made on redevelopment of Anfield’s Main Stand and referred to by John Henry in his tweet this week?
A.“We are very ambitious and as you know we came in and thought there was a real challenge to solve what was a long standing discussion about redeveloping Anfield.
“We are building a new facility and part of our commitment to our fans is to make sure that we work diligently to leave the club in better shape than we found it when we walked into this.
“And we are very proud of the progress we have made.
“I was particularly engaged in making sure that the authenticity of the stadium is a focus for us.
“We have stadium designers who we have sent out, not only to work with the club historian to ensure that we retain the rich history of Liverpool but we have photographs too from various facilities.
“We have photographs of the docks and photographs of the town hall. We want to make sure that when people walk into this facility in a couple of years that it not only will have the modern amenities that will make the experience enjoyable but that it will also remind people that we are part of a tradition that goes back to the 1890s.
“It’s very important for us to acknowledge the history of this as we work on the project.
“John and I have made a lot of changes just this last week.
“We were even talking about the colour scheme and the brick and the feeling you get when you walk into the entrance. It’s very important to me that when the fans enter this new Main Stand in a couple of years that they are pleased and reassured that it’s not only a new facility – but one that reminds people our rich history.
Q. How confident are you of a Phase Two of the project to develop Anfield Road – and how do you hope and expect will this be achieved?
“One of the comments we’ve always had is to under promise and over deliver so we want to make sure that Phase One is developed in a way that makes supporters proud.
“And then we’ll approach Phase Two.
“But it’s a complex project so I don’t want to make any promises about Phase Two today.
Q. Are you confident of retaining Anfield’s renowned atmosphere and traditions – while building a modern, extended capacity stadium?
“We have talked about this.
“I want to make sure the intensity you feel when you watch a match at Anfield remains of course. We are adding more than 8,000 new vocal supporters – so I hope the intensity only increases.
Q. There’s been a lot of debate with regard to ticket prices for Premier League matches. Do you have any sympathy with the arguments put forward by many fans and can ordinary Liverpool supporters, especially younger ones, be reassured they’ll able to afford a seat at a new look Anfield in the coming years?
“I’m aware of the debate and I want to again emphasise my sympathy with the arguments put forward by many of our fans.
“I know Ian has had three meetings recently with the supporters committee.
“I attended a meeting last season and I’m hoping the collaboration we have started continues.
“But I want to emphasise that we are committed to working towards a tiered solution at Anfield so there are affordable tickets as well as tickets that are higher priced.
“We want to have a range of tickets available.
“I know – I have been in sports for a long time – and we have to make sure that the next generation of fans is able to enjoy a football match. So focusing on kids’ tickets is important to me.
“We have reduced the price of junior matchday tickets since we’ve come in. Junior season tickets are now I think £200 as opposed to £250.
“But we are going to try and increase the number of adult/junior tickets.
“We are sympathetic to the fact we need to make sure that our tickets can be affordable because I know we are nothing without the support of our fans.
Q. Raheem Sterling, is yet to sign the new contract he and his advisors have been offered. Are you worried by the impasse? And should Liverpool fans be concerned they might lose him to others prepared to meet his wage demands?
“All I can say is that I’m hopeful that we’ll conclude a deal.
“Obviously it’s important for us. He’s an exceptional player.
“Brendan and Ian Ayre are quite involved and Brendan is talking to Raheem about this and I hope and expect a very positive outcome that is good for Raheem – and good for the club.
“I would say that I’m confident that we will reach an agreement that works for all parties.
Q. What does the new TV deal mean for Liverpool especially and the Premier League generally? Is it just even more cash going into players pockets or does it offer opportunities to invest in other aspects like improved facilities, Academy development, lower ticket prices etc?
“Certainly it is a massive TV deal. I expected there would be an increase in the deal because the English Premier League is such a terrific league.
“We understand there will be some pressure to pass that money on to not just the players but to invest in grass roots facilities and strengthen the FA.
“We’ll get into that as the weeks go by.
Q. Yourself, John Henry and your colleagues at FSG are heading towards five years of ownership of Liverpool FC in 2015. How committed do you and FSG remain to the club – and trying to take Liverpool back to the top as you’ve done three times now with the Boston Redsox?
“Again I think some people have thought thatt we were not as committed as I think I know we are.
“Personally I have felt that my association with Liverpool has been one of the great experiences of my life. There is not a part of the globe that I have visited where I don’t see somebody wearing our colours.
“I see someone perhaps with a Vespa with a Liverpool logo on it – or someone walking in the neighbourhood wearing a Liverpool shirt.
“I know how important our progress is.
“We took over this club nearly five years ago feeling we could add a lot of confidence in strengthening the club both on and off the pitch.
“I would just say to our supporters who are, you know, so loyal, that I have been inculcated myself in the Liverpool Way.
“I know that we are a family and John, Mike and I and everybody at Fenway Sports group is dedicated to strengthening the club and to earning the support of our fans around the world.
“It is a very important club and I feel like we are committed to staying for the long term.
“I feel like we are moving in the right direction – but also hope we are being collaborative.”