Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre has insisted manager Kenny Dalglish was not “hung out to dry” over the Luis Suarez racism saga, despite admitting mistakes were made.
Dalglish found himself facing a tide of criticism as the Uruguayan striker attempted in vain to fight allegations that he had abused Manchester United defender Patrice Evra in October, and was ultimately hit with an eight-game ban.
However, Ayre was adamant that the management team had dealt with the issue as a whole.
Speaking on Sky Sports News, he said: “The great thing about Liverpool Football Club, and particularly the great thing about the team we have running that football club together day to day, is we are all in it together.
“We have a little word that we started using about a year ago, which is ’Unity’.
“We were unified during that process, we are unified as a management team, we are unified as an ownership and management team.
“Kenny wasn’t hung out to dry and never would be. He’s a very important part of our team.
“We were all involved in all of the process and we all move on from the process for the same reasons. He is a good man and we all support him.”
Ayre acknowledged that the row could have been handled better, but added that Suarez – who reignited the tension when he did not shake hands with Evra when the sides met once again in February – and the club have moved on.
He said: “Look, hindsight is a wonderful thing. Did we get anything wrong? Yes, I am sure we did, but we move on.
“The most important thing is we have certainly moved on, Luis has moved on and what’s important now is everybody from our perspective focusing on Liverpool Football Club.
“Luis has shown he can move forward, he is back scoring goals, he is enjoying it, he made a comment about wanting to be at the club for the longer term.”
Seventh-placed Liverpool are unlikely to make the top four this season, but Ayre revealed that their future spending plans do not necessarily depend on qualification for the Champions League.
He said: “We have always said it’s about progress. When we brought these owners in and we all sat down, we didn’t make the plan based on one year or two years, we made our plan in the long term.
“It’s about making progress and we have definitely made progress this season; already won one trophy, the semi-final of another, 10 games to play for 30 points, so it’s about that.
“[Director of football] Damien [Comolli], Kenny, everybody involved in looking, assessing and signing players, will make those decisions based on what we need, not on where we finish in the league.”
The Reds have invested heavily in young British talent in the last year or so, and the £35m they spent on Newcastle striker Andy Carroll remains a topic of debate with the England international struggling to make his mark at Anfield.
However, Ayre gave his backing to the 23-year-old.
He said: “Andy is an integral part of it and everybody loves him at Liverpool, so there’s nothing to worry about there.”
Meanwhile, Ayre confirmed that plans to either build a new stadium or redevelop Anfield remain on course, although he admitted they will not come to fruition over the next two years.
But asked if groundsharing with neighbours Everton was a possibility, he replied: “It’s a question I have been asked many times and I always default to this; in any business, you should always ask your customers what they think, and if we ask the majority of our customers, they say no.”