To begin, an admission. Ian Ayre probably doesn't annoy me as much as he does you. In the humble opinion of your scrivener, too much energy is expended whining about a guy who's simply poor at his job as opposed to being nefarious and grasping. Despite previous experience as a CEO at Huddersfield Town FC, he's simply a man who was promoted above his pay-grade at Liverpool -- a man who was very competent in his role as commercial director of the club and should have been left to continue successfully in that capacity.
In the eyes of many, Ayre is forever tainted by his appointment by Tom Hicks and George Gillett. However, the native Liverpudlian is a home-town lad made good and his promotion to managing director possibly seemed like a canny move to FSG in March 2011, especially after he had overseen the huge shirt sponsorship deal with Standard Chartered. With the benefit of hindsight, many of the moves made by John Henry, Tom Werner et al, as they bumbled their way into the world of football club ownership, were probably less than canny.
My issue arises when the conspiracy theorists and doom-mongers, that seem to form a sizeable chunk of the club's fan-base, want to turn incompetence into scheming megalomaniacal desires to take over the world. Although, in one respect, with his awful shirts, pink hoodies and cringeworthy pronouncements, Harley-fancier Ayre has played a very convincing Pinky to Henry's Brain.
Ian Ayre may not be deserving of the contorted, froth-splattered rage-faces he evokes in many, but by heck does he know how to push people over the edge. Rarely an Ayre interview will conclude without at least one thing that he simply should not have said. It is this remarkable capacity for inserting his well-heeled foot into his overly-loquacious gob that is at the heart of why so many, myself included, have been utterly frustrated by his performance as the club's top banana.
In an interview with Tariq Panja of Bloomberg, Ayre continued his trend of saying just that little bit too much. He spoke of the club's transfer plans and more intriguingly about the future of centre-half nibbler, Luis Suarez. Crediting Liverpool's fan-base with either tremendous magnanimity or goldfish-like memories, Ayre insisted that Suarez need only start to score goals again for all to be right with the world.
"He only needs to do what he did last season and everyone will feel he's in the right place and should carry on getting the support that he deserves and gets from Liverpool," said the managing director. "We'd love to see Luis put on a Liverpool shirt for this season and beyond and we hope that once he gets back things will settle down."
For some, this is fair enough and, as the club holds all the cards here, many would be content to see Suarez remain at the club, against his clearly stated wishes, knowing he needs to perform in order to get his move and with a World Cup coming up. Suarez's volatility is not something that Liverpool fans need reminding of but it seems a touch simplistic to assume that this situation will simply "settle down" at this point in proceedings. Ayre focused the responsibility back on the club, however.
"This is an ambitious young player, he's talked in the media about wanting to play in the Champions League and all these things," Ayre said soothingly. "It's our job to convince Luis that this is the right place to do those things."
Well, not this season, it's not Ian, old chap. The problem with this outlook is that while the reality of modern football may be all about pandering to the diva demands of over-paid stars -- and some fans are perfectly phlegmatic and accepting about that -- it is not a reality that many of us find palatable.
Personally, I like to keep things simple. If a player wants to go, if he's not with the team mentally and spiritually as well as bodily, I think he should be moved on for the largest possible profit. No amount of pragmatic talk about utilising resources available will convince me otherwise. I'm a football fan, you see, not a businessman, and romantic idiot that I am, I like the thought of the players I support so heartily actually caring about the same cause as me. I know, lunacy, yes?
As far as further recruitment goes, the managing director was uncharacteristically clear and direct. Liverpool will be doing more business. The recruitment team headed-up by recent appointments Dave Fallows and Barry Hunter will continue to supply Brendan Rodgers with information on possible targets and, to be fair, if the latest arrivals have anything like the impact of Phillipe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge -- the first two recruits on their watch -- , the season to come will be very exciting indeed.
"We've brought in great players who recognise we're not in the Champions League but see the size of the club, see the size of the opportunity and what we're trying to build and want to be part of it," insisted Ayre. "In every position on the pitch we have a fairly good idea of who are the best players available at what price in the event one of our players leave. But that doesn't mean we're painting a negative scenario, it just means you're planning well, which is what people expect."
Overall then, this was one of the managing director's better interviews and hopefully the amount of angry spittle being wiped off computer monitors will be small. In the wake of missing out on the David Schwimmer look-alike the club chased so passionately, and with potential exits for the likes of Martin Skrtel, Pepe Reina and the aforementioned Suarez, Ayre will no doubt be busy holding forth in the weeks to come. Fans will brace themselves and hope for positive news but many will impotently vent their fury irrespective of the outcome because, when it comes down to it, some folk just like being angry.