James Lawton: For Henry the nightmare may be just beginning

Henry must be reflecting that his cut-price purchase is in need of far more dramatic surgery than an initial £25m outlay on transfers

You didn't have to be a world-class lip-reader to gain a shrewd idea of the content of Liverpool's new owner John W Henry's occasional asides in the Goodison Park directors' box.

While reviving the Boston Red Sox he learnt quickly enough that professional sport is unique in that you can have the most brilliant business plan ever conceived without a single guarantee of success.

The imperative is a degree of belief in the project by the people who make it work and in football or baseball this will always most importantly concern the coach and his players.

You could see on the face of Henry – which at the most critical moments of a catastrophic performance by his new team began to resemble a little uncannily that of George Bush Snr in the middle of tricky negotiations with Mikhail Gorbachev – that the vote of confidence he gave embattled Roy Hodgson and his men could only have been more provisional if it had been whispered in the wind.

Bush Snr, after all, had only to defend the western world. John W Henry has to remake Liverpool Football Club in something like its old image.

It is a huge task that could scarcely have been more apparent if Hodgson, fingering his collar increasingly nervously as his players meandered ever further from the proposition that they have some divine right to extricate themselves from a relegation dogfight, had sued for surrender to Everton's David Moyes some time in the second half.

Hodgson is a good football man and it may be that he will be given the time to put some flesh on the bones of what used to be a proud football organisation. Henry, though, must surely be reflecting that his cut-price purchase of Liverpool is in need of far more dramatic surgery – and character as well as talent investment – than suggested by an initial transfer market outlay of £25m.

Another discovery by Henry yesterday afternoon was that reading the club's accounts gave only a partial report on the scale of the crisis. What couldn't be spelt out was something that former Kop favourite Robbie Fowler, flying in from the Indian summer of his career in Australia, latched on to with hard, professional detachment.

No, he said, there was no possible reason to presume that Liverpool, as currently constituted, will inevitably be clear of their worst relegation fears by the time the first transfer window opens in January.

Nor was Fowler prepared to go along with the fiction that Fernando Torres, until recently arguably the world's most deadly, and beautifully confident striker, is making anything more than a nominal reaction to the fact that he remains one of the best paid players on earth. Torres, said Fowler, had at least a duty to look "interested".

Though Steven Gerrard was as ground down as any of his team-mates at the end, he at least performed that basic duty. His injections of bite and class were poignant examples of an old Liverpool team before, with distressing ease, he was deprived of possession as Everton regained a grip they had brilliantly exerted in the early going. Moyes, on a fraction of the resources enjoyed by his former Liverpool rival Rafa Benitez, may have moved, at least in terms of points, only marginally from relegation fears of his own, but what couldn't be in dispute was the vastly superior ethos of the team he has made.

This showed in the wonderful relish with which young Irishman Seamus Coleman attacked the especially porous left side of Liverpool's defence. The burst which laid on Tim Cahill's opener spoke of a confidence that was hauntingly absent in all that Liverpool did.

Where it leaves Liverpool is surely a matter for urgent debate by the new owners. The euphoria that has greeted the ejection of the great carpetbaggers Hicks and Gillett is understandable enough but it will not mean so much if the slide of the team, the erosion of quality and morale which was so rampantly progressive last season, continues to be lumped exclusively at the feet of the men who thought they could borrow and skim their way to great personal profit at Anfield.

That assault on the Liverpool tradition has rightly been identified and scorned and dismissed. There are, however, other strands to the breakdown which was so grimly manifest yesterday. It concerns a basic breakdown in the leadership of the team, the recruitment of too many players of insufficient ability – and yesterday, we had to believe, competitive character – and a chronic failure to exploit one of the best-funded academies in English football.

Liverpool yesterday looked like a football team all played out and it was little wonder that John W Henry appeared at times rather as though he had bought not a sporting dream but a nightmare to be endured for some time to come.

'The buck stops with the man in charge. he has to go': how the fans saw the Merseyside defeat

On the blue half of Merseyside...

Great result. It's up to 11th and Liverpool look down and out. Also, welcome back Yakubu (right), a tremendous and unselfish display today.

Pearse, Evertonfc.com

John Henry, welcome to the Premier League. It's a good thing the first game he watches is at Goodison – he got a chance to see some real fans since he won't find any at Anfield.

American Evertonian, Toffee Talk

Superb. Really, really superb. Couldn't fault the lads – brilliant. The tide isn't turning, it already has. We'll finish above that lot for the first time in a long while.

GrandOldTeam, GrandOldTeam.com

This big grin on my face will be there for days. Up to 11th. Liverpool 19th. Quality.

MikeO, Toffeetalk

All [Liverpool] have done is swapped a dubious set of American owners who invested £150m for a dubious set of American owners who are going to invest £40m.

Matt Damon, GrandOldTeam.com

Hope John Henry kept the receipt. But does a 30-day money-back guarantee apply to pants?

Blue1, GrandOldTeam.com

And on the red side...

The string of performances are the worst I've seen in my lifetime. I don't think Hodgson is the right man for Liverpool.

Yaara, Liverpoolfc.tv

Awful again. We created nothing... again. Outplayed in the first half... again. We deserved to lose... again. The manager DOES need to go, he just can't do this job.

Rafarendum, Kop Talk

[Hodgson's] player selection and decision-making ability is lacking to the core.

iamnottian, Liverpoolfc.tv

Roy, no excuses, no passing the buck. If you can't motivate a team to at least compete in the derby – go.

The_Life_Of_Molby, BBC 606

It's just not working. We are playing without style or purpose and the buck stops with Roy. He has to go now.

gedzredz, Liverpoolfc.tv

Alan Bennett has criticised the “repellent” reality shows which dominate our screens
tvBut he does like Stewart Lee
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Life and Style
food + drink
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits