His appeasement campaign ticked all the right boxes to ensure he calmed the disquiet after a traumatic weekend. The only problem was he found nowhere in his re-affirmation of Fenway Sports Group’s transfer policy to address the question every supporter wants answering. Why did you allow Andy Carroll to go without being sure you would sign a replacement?
At least in blaming others, there was an acknowledgement of FSG’s own errors. There was even the slightest hint of slaying a sacred cow when the signings of Kenny Dalglish and Damien Comolli - whose £110 million spree (and the lucrative pay-offs they received) have left a mental and fiscal wound on the Americans - were acknowledged as influencing the current shift.
Most fans will gleefully apply the blaming of ‘former regimes’ to Tom Hicks and George Gillett, even if targeting them is the equivalent of digging up a two-year-old corpse and giving into another burial.
None of this was the central issue on Friday evening.
There was a breakdown in the chain of command, the manager realising when it was too late that just because he wanted a player, agreed he was worth the asking price and had enough money to complete a deal, it did not necessarily mean he would get him. By any standard of boardroom interference, this was pretty exceptional at Anfield.
Clint Dempsey did not sign because, for his fee and age, he fitted Rodgers’ profile but did not fit that of FSG. But who now determines that profile, and how can we be sure this will never happen again?
And why are FSG so reluctant to identify those who influenced this decision? We know Henry listens to advisers. With a self-confessed limited knowledge of English football, he clearly isn’t conducting this new era of quality control alone, so he has someone doing the vetting on his behalf.
When FSG first revealed they were taking independent advice, it led to a surreal period when individuals as diverse as Johan Cruyff to a blogger employed by Liverpool’s official website issued denials that they were the chief consultants. Whoever they are, they are able to act without fear of being held accountable for their decisions. They told FSG that Joe Allen, Nuri Sahin and Fabio Borini were acceptable purchases but Dempsey was not.
While Rodgers was pursuing the ex-
In the discussions between manager and owner to prevent a repeat of Friday, Henry may need a crash course in how a blend of youth and experience is the key to success.
Rodgers understands the economic plan and has embraced it. He knows that while Liverpool are outside the Champions League, he can never expect more than a £20 million summer budget. He will look for solutions rather than stir up agitation, and, if anything, he should be helped by the lowering of short-term expectations. If he is to succeed, however, the manager must be allowed to manage and stand and fall by his own decisions. If he is unable to do so, the Liverpool job will rapidly become one of the most unworkable in English football.