The Fenway Sports Group (FSG) which has its fingers in a number of sporting pies, is under a level and weight of pressure it has never experienced before. In Boston, the Red Sox
are absolutely reeling right now, sinking faster than even last season’s September demise. They just got absolutely pounded in Oakland, a team which it has out-spent by eleventy billion dollars this season. They are being swept out of every city they visit, and they appear to be very much a ship without a rudder. Meanwhile, Liverpool
were unmasked 0-2 at home in front of their ever faithful fans by Arsenal, a talented team no doubt, but a team that had failed to score in their previous two games.
Well, the natives are restless. In Boston, several elements of the media are quick to accuse the FSG of being distracted by their Liverpool venture, whilst in England, many Liverpool fans are sadly resorting to basically racist criticism, suggesting ‘The Yanks’ don’t know what they are doing.
Much of the criticism is unfair and also unfounded. Clearly FSG is ‘in it to win it’, in terms of both the Red Sox and Liverpool also. People in Boston in particular have forgotten very quickly that FSG have turned the fortunes of a cursed, moribund franchise around very quickly, taking the team to the pinnacle of success twice in 2004 and 2007. The jury is out on their Liverpool venture thus far, however given time you have to assume they will at least turn the fortunes of ‘The ‘Pool’ around relative to the years preceding their entry to the game.
In Boston, the local Knights Of The Keyboard, are gleefully finding new ways to poke fun at FSG for, thus far, failing to turn Liverpool into instant champions. The general line goes that John Henry and team are only being distracted by the frivolous venture in England. The accusation is basically that they are somehow distracted by their ownership of Liverpool.
Those same writers are obviously ignoring the number of serious corrections and amendments FSG has clearly made to attempt to address the issues that have arose in the last season plus. You cannot blame FSG for Josh Beckett suddenly morphing into the Ghost of John Wasdin, morbidly dishing out 91mph ‘fastballs’ that get lost in the Fenway bleachers. You cannot blame FSG for Lester, Buchholz and the rest of the Sox rotation not pitching up to their ability. Kevin Youkilis was enduring a horrific batting slump before he was shipped to Chicago, can you blame FSG for that? They have clearly attempted to address each and every issue that has arisen, dramatically so in the case of the Gonzo\Beckett\Crawford trade.
How can anyone keep a straight face and accuse them of not acting, when everything they have done since they have taken over in Boston has been directly related to trying honestly to improve the ball club? They may not be perfect, but you cannot accuse them of sitting on their hands and not acting.
To do so is just lazy.
In terms of Liverpool, it would appear they are working very hard to completely rebuild the club, with an emphasis on young, talented players like the clearly gifted Joe Allen and the exciting Raheem Sterling. You could argue that not over-spending on a 29 year old player with high salary demands (Clint Dempsey) was absolutely in line with their desired approach and path to future success. Liverpool may be lagging behind at time of writing, however they are actively trying to build a youthful, talented squad. This is in direct comparison to, for example, Manchester City, who’s model for success has seen them spend over £700 in order to basically purchase the title.
The Manchester City model is potentially a recipe for disaster, if UEFA and Michelle Platini follow through on their ‘Fair Play’ rules
for entry to the Champions League in 2014. Platini’s new rules will bar teams like Manchester City, that cannot ‘balance their books’ without rich owners dumping hundreds of millions of oil money to solve their problems, from entering the Champions League.
Liverpool are one of the few teams, particularly one of the few big teams, that are actively trying to maintain their books in a manner that will mean they will succeed under these new fair play rules, and frankly that should be applauded.
Another simple, somewhat related note, John Henry, the principal owner of FSG, cannot be accused on not caring about his Liverpool adventure. He is a frequent attendee at Anfield and indeed ‘road’ games, and has clearly thrown himself into the project. Take that for example against Manchester City’s Sheik boss, who attended a grand total of two of City’s games during the Premiership winning title run last season. He watched the final game on TV, no doubt whilst being fed grapes by Norwegian lesbians in his billion dollar, air conditioned palace.
As a fan, which owner would you prefer, the one who comes to plenty of your club’s games, or the one who watches (occasionally) from afar, and treats your club like some kind of expensive car, to show off in conversation with other rich oil baron’s on their million dollar yacht moored in Monaco?
Chastise FSG all you want for the mistakes they have made, mistakes they often themselves admit to (Carl Crawford, Andy Carroll), but let’s draw a line under the silly accusations that FSG aren’t trying their best to make things better in both Boston and Liverpool.
Neither distraction nor inactivity are the problem.Follow Cormac on Twitter