Sir Isaac Newtons third law of motion states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Most of the time this law also applies to news of a Liverpool defeat, a Liverpool win or a Liverpool cup winning performance because haters will either jump equally high, stoop equally low or butt bleed equally gory to death depending on the news.
When I read on twitter about the sacking of yet another manager by Roman Abramovic, it did not make me react a bit. Honestly I would rather have Roman stop harming Chelsea but funny enough, I find solace in what’s going on because it is soothing to know that John Henry will never do such a thing to the mighty reds.
The Chelsea boss was only 30 years old when he took over Sibneft, a large oil company in Russia. His business dealings were always dodgy from the start and full of controversies. Upon making billion of dollars, he stepped into prime sports business by taking over Chelsea Football Club. Never before had he owned any sports brand and overnight he wanted to make Chelsea at par with the rest of the big boys in every sense of the word, championships, cup and endorsement money.
It is fine to put in that extra effort but to make it all happen at a frantic pace, one would expect him to be a person who wants fast result, yesterday. So the sacking of Luís André de Pina Cabral e Villas-Boas, better known as André Villas-Boas or just AVB and five others before him within six years is not something unusual.
On the other hand, John W. Henry is a businessman who started business from humble beginnings and understand the fact that success too soon, is a sandcastle of a fortress. Every decision he makes are based on calculated risk.
John made his fortunes from commodity trading business and later ventured into owning professional sports team by initially buying into small AAA minor baseball league franchises before purchasing Boston Red Sox and Liverpool FC.
A philosophy telling you that he build knowledge about a particular industry from the ground up. Knowing how to manage talents be it the players, the managers or even the fans can be tough and without proper attention, might backfire.
When John took over Liverpool he wanted Roy Hodgson to stay and continue managing but later decided to appoint Kenny Dalglish, to my observation because of the increasing pressure from the fans. Well under Roy, it was Liverpool's worst start to the season in 60 years and statistic shows that Liverpool under him was horrible (this will be dealt in later postings if I have the time).
Nevertheless, I sincerely believe that if Rafael Benitez was still managing the team then, John would have lent his support and allowed Rafa to lead Liverpool to greater heights. But again 'if' is such a subjective word. The sacking of Rafael Benitez was really disheartening, to me at least.
People make mistakes and to err is only human. Rafa might have made a few bad investments here and there but he gave us one FA Cup, a brilliant season but came 2nd to Manchester United in 08-09 season and the best of the lot, two Champions League finals with one being a runner-up and another "a night in Istanbul". Liverpool's performance was acceptable for the most part of his tenure except for the last season at the helm and that was mostly due to bad ownership issues rather than the players or Rafa himself.
Liverpool owners before John came in were George Gillett and Tom Hicks, two pure capitalist who does not give a shit about football as long as the cash till kept ringing. They were idiotically worse than Roman because at least Roman was willing to spend to achieve immediate success but Gillett and Hicks did not and with Liverpool players ageing, money was needed by Rafa to get more players in. Not only that, Rafa was building a new structure of youth program in Liverpool to replace the existing old archaic system and to emphasize on youth as what Arsene Wenger has put in place much much earlier in Arsenal.
Net amount spent on players by Rafa after the Gillette and Hicks take over was £34m (which is considered above average compared to the rest of the competition) in the first year and then the money just stopped. In 08/09, the net amount spent was just £2.4m and in 09/10 a meagre £10,000. I mean, spending £10,000 a season would not have been an issue if the team was already stable with the manager already 5-10 years into the job. This is a team suffering from mediocrity, a relatively new manager with great ideas on board, a club in dire need of change at a crucial part of its life cycle and suddenly there was no fund available to the manager?
In 08/09 when Rafa wanted to bring in Gareth Barry, there were no money in the coffers so what were the option available? At this juncture let us stop a minute and think. Which player would bank in the most money to Liverpool if sold? Steven Gerrard would have made the most but the fans would have revolted. The answer was yes, Xabi Alonso. Even though the deal with Aston Villa did not go through, the damage done to the morale of Xabi Alonso was irreversible. Xabi requested for a transfer and was later sold to Real Madrid for £30m. Maybe some of the players themselves was against the initial plan to sell Xabi and in turn sabotaged by performing badly but a decision had to be made.
With other teams spending on players creating amount pressure spurred on by the power struggle within the management, Rafa was stuck. Imagine, out of the squad that made the finals in Istanbul, only Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard survived when Xabi Alonso was sold in 2009. That was how far Rafa had to scour to bring in new players. Without budget coupled with fierce competition, Rafa still managed to bring in El-Nino to Anfield and for this, I have great respect for the man.
Rafa was later undeservedly terminated "by mutual consent" in June 2010.
Rafael Benitez wanted a successful Liverpool with managed, steady progress. He wanted to develop a youth system that can support the first team in ways that were never realized before in Melwood. Rafa brought in Jose Segura and Rodolfo Borrell (pic below) from Barcelona, both heavily involved in the development of youth in Barcelona FC La Masia academy and made Frank MacParland, Liverpool’s then former chief scout as the new academy director. La Masia is where the likes of Lionel Messi, Cesc Fabregas, Gerard Pique and Pep Guardiola himself came from before bursting into the football scene. In fact, it was Rodolfo Borrell who discovered Cesc Fabregas when Cesc was 10 and brought him to La Masia.
“The academy of Liverpool is the only one that can compare to La Masia of Barcelona FC,” states Barcelona manager and La Masia graduate, Pep Guardiola.
“If Liverpool can manage those lads in the academy, then maybe 20 star players can arrive from that academy.”
Those were words from a highly respected manager with huge accolades and success. Maybe La Masia is not the best academy in the world but looking at its produce might make one think otherwise.
Yes, Liverpool youth did lose 6-0 to Ajax in the Nextgen Series tournament semi-finals but at that stage of their development as a player, the experience they gained were invaluable. The mere fact that Liverpool together with the rest of the other fifteen youth academy were selected by invitation due to its reputation of being one of the best in Europe to compete in this inaugural event says a lot. Liverpool ended the tournament in third place after beating Marseille 2-0.
Under Mike Marsh, Liverpool is also currently doing well in the under-18 premier academy league (click here), pushing Manchester City U-18 to the limits in Group C. Arsenal academy which has always been proud of its academy is also flying high while Manchester United and Chelsea is struggling near the rear end of their respective group.
Thanks to Rafa, currently Liverpool boast 31 youth internationals from its academy playing for their respective national teams compared to only 2 when Frank MacParland was first appointed as academy director three and a half years ago.
It’s not a change in the manager or a change in the way we support the club that is needed. The change required in Liverpool is yet to fully come into effect but can already be felt when we see players like Martin Kelly and Jay Spearing anchoring Liverpool seniors at Anfield while 19 year old midfielder Fernandez Suso's super passing abilities and 18 year old striker Raheem Sterling's (pic below) dazzling runs, shines for the reserves on the field of Melwood.
There are more from where they came and great things comes to those who wait but it is a phrase that I bet Roman Abramovic will never agree.
And therefore, I shall wait.
ANDA SEDANG MEMBACA
Ahmad Fairuz Jumaat, Mac 30, 2012