FIFA LEAGUES/CUPS

How FSG “kept their word” with “evolution not revolution” at Liverpool


Former chief executive Ian Ayre believes all-conquering Premier League leaders Liverpool are benefiting from continual evolution and owner John W. Henry’s desire to become perpetual winners.

It is nine-and-a-half years since what is now known as the Fenway Sports Group completed their takeover at Anfield and helped inject life back into a great club on their haunches.

Liverpool were struggling for results on the field and an identity off it, yet Jurgen Klopp’s men are now the poster boys for Premier League success.

Now just weeks from clinching their first league title since 1990, Ayre is proud, but not surprised, by his former club’s continued rise.

“I am and was hugely proud of my 10 years at the club,” the ex-Liverpool chief executive, who left the club in 2017, told the PA news agency.

“I am most pleased for all the people still there who were there with me, who made a huge contribution to what is going on today, and some who moved on.

“I feel that from the time FSG arrived and the process from Kenny, Brendan and Jurgen, it’s been an evolution not a revolution.

“So many good people have made a contribution to the club’s return to glory and I think that says a lot about having a plan, staying on track and recognising that as the Beatles said ‘it’s a long and winding road’.

“Other people have and will come and go on and off the pitch, but the people who went through the hard yards to get where they have made big contributions.

“Even looking at the team week in week out now people like Jordan Henderson have had a long journey and others like Gerrard, Suarez, Coutinho and many others, might not be around but they played their part in building the whole thing up.

“Other less obvious parts like the big commercial transformation and the building of the new main stand are all massively important if you want to compete at the top and a lot of that work had to be done against a backdrop of less successful football.

“John Henry told me right at the start ‘we want to build this up to win—and keep winning’. I’d say he’s kept his word.”

Liverpool’s impressive recruitment strategy has been integral to the Champions League holders’ success—an approach Ayre is looking to replicate in his role as chief executive of Major League Soccer new boys Nashville SC.

The Tennessee side kick off their debut campaign against Atlanta United this weekend, when Klopp’s men will head to Watford looking to continue their outstanding Premier League campaign.

Ayre was chief executive when the German was appointed by the Anfield giants, who are reaping the rewards of the former Borussia Dortmund manager’s ability to hone young talent.

“Like everything at Liverpool, then and now, we went through a very structured process,” he said.

“Obviously there was no question of Jurgen’s coaching ability, but we wanted a coach who develops young players for the future.

“As well as making good players great, we wanted somebody who would connect with the fan base and somebody who we could all work with and be collaborative.

“You never know what you will get from analysis and interviews, but he ticked all the boxes—and some boxes that aren’t even on anyone’s list.

“He’s a very special person and I could not imagine anyone better for the club.”



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