Liverpool’s principal owner John Henry admits Kenny Dalglish’s transformation of their on-field fortunes is exactly what he hoped for when he chose to appoint the Scot as manager.
Henry was happy the 59-year-old, winner of three titles in his previous spell as manager and the last Reds boss to bring the championship to Anfield, had introduced a more positive style in keeping with his – and the club’s – ideals.
The American admitted the tactics of previous manager Roy Hodgson, who was appointed by the previous regime three months before Fenway Sports Group completed their £300m (€357m) October takeover, had not been the Liverpool way, and that was why they took the decision to dispense with his services last month.
“The philosophy we were playing under didn’t seem to suit the club and we knew we had to make a change,” said Henry, speaking before Liverpool beat Chelsea yesterday.
“We knew we wanted to change the type of football we were playing, we wanted to move to a much more positive pass-and-move philosophy.
“We also knew we wanted to have a caretaker so to speak, we didn’t want to be forced into an immediate decision.
“I talked with Kenny about it and said we needed someone to come in for six months and stabilise the club on the field and the club in general.
“But I can’t imagine how anyone can be more beloved by fans, not just for what he accomplished on the field but off the field through some very difficult times for the club and supporters (a reference to the 1989 Hillsborough disaster).
“I know for a long time now he has wanted to be in this position so it is a great thing for the club, for Kenny, for us.”
Henry has already hinted that Dalglish, back in charge at Anfield 20 years after he left the post, has a chance of assuming the role on a permanent basis.
The win at Stamford Bridge, Liverpool’s fourth in succession, has lifted the club to sixth – their highest position of the season – and there is a growing belief they could make a late charge for Champions League qualification.
Dalglish has brought such renewed optimism to the club just a month after taking over and captain Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher, both Scousers, believe he is the man to restore the club to former glories.
Henry stressed the FSG blueprint is to bring sustained success back to the club, highlighted by their club record signings of Andy Carroll for £35m and £22.8m capture of Luis Suarez a week ago.
And he believes their ownership of Liverpool could provide parallels with FSG’s other high-profile investment, baseball team Boston Red Sox.
“Fenway Sports Group have a unique skill set for what we call in the US ’breaking curses’,” he told Fox Sports Soccer.
“We had an 86-year drought in Boston for winning a World Series and there has been a 20-year drought (at Liverpool) for winning the first division.
“We have no other agenda than that – that is why we are there and that is what everyone in the organisation is working towards.
“Throughout the [purchase] process we looked at similarities with what we have accomplished at Boston and what we thought we could do at Liverpool.
“There was a strong feeling we were uniquely qualified, even though we did not know the sport, we knew the sports business.
“We want to be the best in football. Manchester United have 18 (titles), we have 18 – if nothing else that should be enough to drive us forward.
“It is beginning to look like United could edge ahead this year so we have our work cut out.”