FSGOut Is Just Pure Nonsense From People Who Don't Understand Football

10 August 2020 02:05

Every football fan wants to see their team improve. Otherwise, what would be the point?

It doesn't matter what your circumstances are. If you've been relegated, you want to be promoted. If you've been promoted, you want to establish yourself in the division. If you've established yourself, you want to push on, to challenge for silverware and the rest.

If you've just won the league for the first time in 30 years, off the back of 12 months that have yielded the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, and Club World Cup, you want your owners to finance deals for Timo Werner, Kalidou Koulibaly, Kai Havertz, Jadon Sancho and Kylian Mbappé.

Or else.

The sense of entitlement in the modern, social media generation football fan can be ridiculous, and it's a ridiculousness best summarised by the fact that there is actually a faction of Liverpool fans - in real life - who want FSG out.

Who are FSG? The Fenway Sports Group, founded by John W. Henry and Tom Werner, acquired Liverpool in 2010 following the debacle of the Hicks and Gillett era, and have since led the club through one of the most turbulent periods in its modern history.

The appointment of Kenny Dalglish, the sacking of Kenny Dalglish, the seismic collapse of a title challenge, and several very terrible, very expensive strikers. It hasn't all been plain sailing, but through the treacherous waters, things have remained on a steady upward curve.

The culmination of that? A team who couldn't even qualify for the Europa League in 2011 just won the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, Club World Cup and ended a 30-year wait for a league title, all in the space of 12 months.

While the Glazer group at Manchester United and Stan Kroenke at Arsenal have more or less stood still for much of the past decade, FSG have proactively driven Liverpool forward. Not every decision has been popular, but they have been brash, fearless and dynamic, and the club - one which had been stagnating and even on the verge of collapse - have leapfrogged their rivals as a direct result.

Working with Michael Edwards and Jurgen Klopp, they have helped to devise a revolutionary recruitment strategy, learning from the stats-based 'Moneyball' system that Henry's Boston Red Sox used to such great effect in the world of baseball. It's one that has Europe's biggest clubs scratching their heads.

Bayern Munich, Juventus, Barcelona, Real Madrid, even Manchester City; FSG's Liverpool have surpassed them all while keeping their net transfer spend down to a fraction of their competitors, while growing their commercial power and balancing the books.

Instead of signing ready-made superstars (with the exceptions of Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker) Liverpool have made them, identifying opportunities in the market and turning promising talents like Andy Robertson, Mohamed Salah and Gini Wijnaldum into world-beaters, with the help of Klopp's coaching.

Liverpool is now - in no small part thanks to FSG - a club every player would want to play for and, crucially, no longer one any player wants to leave.

It truly astonishes, then, that as the Reds sit on the cusp of their first title defence in 30 years, there are some not only questioning the owners' methods, but actually calling for them to leave.

There's not much you can say to someone who believes that decisions not to sign Timo Werner or Thiago Alcantara merit ripping up the structure that has brought the club this far. That's not someone who is thinking reasonably, or has even the slightest understanding of how a football club works outside of a FIFA 20 career mode.

Owning a football club isn't just about pouring money into transfers and hoping for the best. It's about strategy, long-term planning, investing in all aspects of the club, and finding the balance between success on the pitch and green on the balance sheets.

FSG have a two-pronged recruitment strategy for doing just that: they carefully identify the value in players before it is widely accepted, and they refuse to pay more than that valuation - even if that means missing out.

Fans were right behind that strategy when it was yielding the massively successful signings of Sadio Mané, Salah, Robertson, Van Dijk and Alisson. But now the big-money signings have dried up for the time being, and the owners, using the same philosophy, have tightened the purse strings, the support for them is dwindling rapidly.

Some point to the fact Chelsea are spending big, or that even Aston Villa have sanctioned a £100m transfer budget this summer; but since when did Liverpool look to Chelsea or Aston Villa for pointers on how to run a club?

And considering where both clubs are in comparison, why would you want them to?

FSG have decided that pumping money into such a well-established group of players, at a time when the financial climate is more uncertain than ever, just isn't the answer. Could it come back to cost them next season? Sure, it could. You never know. They're playing a high-stakes game of blackjack, however, and have been dealt 20; they're not about to twist.

Everything you hear from the club right now, however, suggests unity. Owners, manager, recruitment team and players, they are all in it together, and when Anfield can open its turnstiles to fans again, we'll see that the vast majority of fans are involved too.

To rip a branch of that out now, just because you'd rather see another high-profile signing or two, would be lunacy. So let's take a breath and, for once, let reason prevail.

Source: 90min