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Saying the Right Things: John Henry

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Liverpool owner John Henry

"When you win a championship--and we will--success isn’t measured or accomplished by winning once."

As far as grand pronouncements from owners go, that has to be somewhat better than rambling about getting Snoogy Doogy in the transfer market. It's from an interview John Henry did with Four Four Two, as first mentioned around these parts in passing by Ed during Wednesday's news and notes. Since then, however, a more complete version of that interview has started making the rounds, courtesy of a couple of outlets including The Liverpool Echo, who re-published large portions of the hard copy-only article for consumption by the internetting public.

With quibbles over whether it's right to re-print almost all the quotes from an article not otherwise available online already handily taken care of by the respectable proper journalists, there's no reason we shouldn't get in on the fun. Because it really is a quite good interview, and seemingly one more example of the many ways in which it appears Liverpool has managed to very much get the right owners this time around:

The worst surprise [after the takeover] was the lack of depth in the squad.

Our biggest concern in taking on this responsibility was this issue and it was a bigger issue than we feared.

There was a huge multi-year payroll for a squad that had very little quality depth.

All the usual suspects, then: Cole, reportedly on £90k per week; Jovanovic on £70k; Aurelio re-signed and still not fit; Poulsen signed on increased wages from Juventus; a more expensive back-up keeper who hasn't seen a minute of meaningful action. Ryan Babel would be another name to add to the ignominious list, though of course the January window saw his bloated contract shipped off to Germany, just as any number of other fringe names are liable to follow him out the door come summer.

None of that is to say that all those players are horrible, full stop, or without the possibility for merit. It's also not to say that John Henry and FSG aren't willing to spend, as the acquisition of Suarez and Carroll along with attempting a handful of other name signings in January certainly suggests otherwise. The problem is with paying far too much for far too little; the problem is buying that nice fixer-upper in a good location and finding out you've just acquired a money pit. One that involves paying Joe Cole nearly £5M a season to stand around looking like a winded Napoleon.

However, the intent is clearly there, and this latest interview from Henry only supports that their intention is to spend, but to only spend wisely.

Joe Cole winded
First a nap. Then
we march on Russia.

The best surprise has been the degree of loyalty Liverpool fans have.

The depth of love for this club is remarkable.

When we arrived in Boston, we knew Red Sox fans had patiently waited more than 80 years for a championship.

But we thought they were near the end of their rope so to speak. I didn’t think they could take much more of coming close but failing. Their patience was rewarded.

So at least it's not all bad news and buyer's remorse. And while saying good things about the fans is never a bad move for an owner, I think most will stick to hoping that lightning strikes twice when it comes to John Henry buying up a storied sporting institution and putting it back on top where it belongs.

He also went a bit further when talking about the fans and those expectations for glory:

Just as I was surprised by Red Sox fans, Liverpool finished seventh last year missing out on the Champions League and I wondered at first how long they would put up with what was mediocre play.

At one point this season we had dropped to 19th. But the television ratings remained strong, the shirt sales were stronger than Manchester United--third in the world over the last year--and just about every indicator showed the resiliency of the supporters.

We have to reward their patience and their love for this club. And we will. But it’s going to take a lot of work and some time.

First things first, it's never a gratuitous shot when it's a shot at Manchester United. And second, the apparent speed and comfort with which Henry has taken to life in the Premier League has to make one wonder just how thick the likes of Hicks and Gillett were that they could seemingly manage to get everything wrong even after years in charge.

As for patience, well, the debt is cleared and Kenny Dalglish is in charge and Luis Suarez is all kinds of supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, so I suppose thirteen or fourteen more months to wrap up title number nineteen is just about acceptable, all things considered.

And even if that might be a bit bullish, as is the manic depressive nature of fandom, at least it's nice to see somebody in charge who seems set on at least doing their best to make it happen:

Our number one priority is to win the Premier League title.

That is what we take with us each day to work as the force that drives us to excel.

If we can accomplish that we will have put ourselves in a position to be successful on all fronts. Success is winning championships, nothing less.