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John Henry Takes on Twitter

john henry liverpool twitter
"Speculation on players shouldn't include those of a certain age. We are not going to be successful by merely filling short-term needs at Liverpool Football Club."

The obvious question people will now speculate over for days—maybe even months—is what exactly that certain age is and which rumours linking a player of said certain age to Liverpool kicked off John Henry's impromptu question and answer session with fans on Twitter yesterday. The give and take would go on for most of an hour, but one of the biggest pieces of information for those desperate for a tidbit to help get them through transfer season would remain the one that came right off the top.

It's hard to imagine players such as Joey Barton (28) or Wayne Bridge (30), somewhat older footballers who have been linked tenuously at best and laughably at worst and who nobody has considered serious targets for more than five seconds, being Henry's intended targets. His statement might well rule them out, but having the owner break a three month social media silence to have a calming chat with the fans because of two players nobody considered serious targets or was particularly worried about in the first place would seem unlikely.

Which leaves two obvious options. First, Xabi Alonso. He never stops talking about how much he loves Liverpool, and a great many Liverpool fans never stop talking about how much they love him. And one can bet that if Henry gave even a cursory glance to the messages fans were sending him in recent weeks, many would have included the unsolicited advice that nothing would be better than seeing the Basque playmaker back in Liverpool red. This is especially true in light of the unceasing rumblings about Charlie Adam, who some have taken to calling a poor-man's Alonso.

If Alonso is the player many more speculative fans are talking about, the other obvious option would have to be the oldest player frequently linked in the papers and by supposed In the Knows: Stewart Downing. He's turning 27 in a couple of weeks, which is hardly old, even by footballing standards. Still, Raul Meireles is only 28 and a significant vocal minority is screaming that Liverpool has to sell him now because he's teetering over the hill. And if a club is looking strictly at long term value, then yes, a 27-year-old Downing probably isn't a long-term investment that will maintain that value over the next three to four years—especially at the £18-20M Aston Villa is reportedly demanding.

Whichever player he had in mind, it's an interesting insight into the club mindset navigating the summer transfer window. It isn't, however, a signal that Liverpool will seek to have a squad with nothing but players under 25 years old, as Henry would go on to acknowledge the need for experience when asked if a focus on youth would mean a long wait for tangible results. On that question he pointed to the largely successful second half of last season as a sign there was a strong core of experienced players already at the club, suggesting that investing in youth can be about both building for the future as well as supplementing that experienced core right now. Even if buying young talent—especially when it's English—can at times make it seem as though the new players must be coming in to take over a starting role since the fees are so high.

"Everything in sports is overpriced now—especially the cost of winning. But you make your choices based on a plan."

For now, that plan would seem to be to build around the core that played most of the minutes under Dalglish and was generally very successful doing so until the wear and tear of a shallow squad up against a long season wore them down towards the very end. The players that fit that plan for the future may be expensive, but if a few years down the road they can fulfill their potential it will have been a price worth paying. Meanwhile, in the here and now, the apparent implication is that the veteran core from last season should be strong enough to carry the bulk of the work load. For now, any new youth only needs to be good enough to do their part ensuring the squad as a whole can remain robust over an entire season.

Certainly there's no suggestion that Heny, Comolli, and Dalglish intend to embrace the extremes of Arsenal in only ever recruiting youth, but for the time being at least there are older players who are more than capable of filling the experienced veteran side of the equation and as such seeking out more players of a certain age wouldn't make a great deal of sense for the club. Amongst all the more serious talk, though, Henry did find time for a laugh at how depressing an idea it is that people in their late 20s and early 30s could be thought of as already being "of a certain age."

Between that, jokes about journalists having no choice but to come up with something to pass along even if they have nothing, and preaching patience to fans who both want more information but would also like to see the club conducting its business quietly in accordance with the Liverpool way, he also managed to mention that there had been movement behind the scenes on deciding what to do about a new or redeveloped stadium. Soon, he suggested, there will be an official update in order to give the supporters something tangible.

And for anybody who just couldn't take a step back from the madness of the transfer window for five minutes, worried as they might be about Young going to United and Wickham going to Sunderland and the world being on the verge of fire and doom, well, zen might just be the word of the day from an owner who's yet to put a foot wrong in his time with the club:

"Some things happen early and some late. The important thing is that things happen. Sometimes what you avoid is important."

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