Ian Ayre claims Liverpool's transfer policy is back on track

Owners took a 'leap of faith' is listening to others advice early in their tenure

Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre believes the club's transfer policy is improving after admitting owners Fenway Sports Group “took a leap of faith” in listening to advice from others during its first year in charge.

The American group took over at Anfield in October 2010 having had no previous experience of the sport, with the Boston Red Sox baseball team its primary interest.

FSG initially canvassed advice from a wide range of sources - many of whom have never been named - but Ayre said it was part of the learning process.

Things have changed since then, with Ayre pointing to transfer strategy as the most significant area after accepting they could not be successful taking decisions on the "whim" of any one individual.

"There were two phases to what's happened since the change of ownership," Ayre told Sports Illustrated.

"In the first phase we talked about the knowledge of soccer and that takes time so we probably spent a year with the owners taking a leap of faith to a certain degree of other people telling them what they should be doing.

"Within that year we then get to a situation where the dust has settled and people start to see what is and isn't working.

"I think the fundamental shift particularly around player acquisitions and disposals was that we took the view that it needs to be more of a science.

"Your biggest expenditure line can't be the whim of any individual."

FSG's very first transfer window, having just sacked Roy Hodgson and put Kenny Dalglish in charge, famously saw it spend all and more of the £50million transfer fee for Fernando Torres on Andy Carroll (£35million) and Luis Suarez (£22.75million).

The following summer the club spent the best part of £60million acquiring Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam, Jose Enrique and Sebastian Coates while offloading 13 players.

Having dispensed with director of football Damien Comolli last April and appointed Brendan Rodgers as manager there has been less activity in the last two windows, although spending has still been close to £50million.

That appeared at odds with FSG's much-vaunted 'Moneyball' strategy of analysing statistics to identify under-valued players who could be acquired cheaply which worked so well for them in baseball.

Ayre, however, denies the American owners ever wanted to transfer that policy to football.

"I don't think there was ever anyone at Liverpool using the word Moneyball, but plenty of other people were using it," he added.

"What we believe, and we continue to follow, is you need many people involved in the process.

"That doesn't mean somebody else is picking the team for Brendan but Brendan needs to set out with his team of people which positions we want to fill and what the key targets would be for that.

"He has a team of people that go out and do an inordinate amount of analysis work to establish who are the best players in that position.

"Despite what people think and read, it's not a whole bunch of guys sitting behind a computer working out who we should buy.

"It's a combination of old-school scouting and watching players - and that's Brendan, his assistants, our scouts - with statistical analysis of players across Europe and the rest of the world.

"By bringing those two processes together you get a much more educated view of who you should and shouldn't be buying and, perhaps as fundamentally, how much you should be paying and the structure to those contracts.

"I think we've had relatively good success since we deployed that methodology. We're getting better all the time.

"We were very pleased with the most recent window in January with Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge (acquired for a combined £20.5million).

"Hopefully you continue to follow that path. But it's not a Moneyball strategy."

Last the summer FSG wanted to employ another director of football-type figure to help future transfer strategy but manager Brendan Rodgers, appointed in June, was resistant to the idea.

Ayre believes the compromise is working well, however, especially since Dave Fallows (head of scouting and recruitment) and Barry Hunter (chief scout) were brought on board from Manchester City in the autumn.

"I think that director of football role in a lot of cases almost creates as many problems as it solves because people try to judge where the power base is with that role," he said.

"Who's picking the team? Who's deciding which players? What we actually have is probably three or four people who all are involved in that role.

"We have a head of analysis, a head of recruitment, a first-team manager, myself.

"All of those people are all inputting into a process that delivers what a director of football would deliver."

PA

Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
life
Life and Style
It is believed that historically rising rates of alcohol consumption have contributed to the increase
food + drink
Voices
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
The White Sails Hospital and Spa is to be built in the new Tunisia Economic City.
architectureRussian billionaire designs boat-shaped hospital for new Dubai-style Tunisia Economic City
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
music
Sport
Husain Abdullah returns an interception off Tom Brady for a touchdown
nflLeague has rules against 'sliding to ground on knees'
Life and Style
tech
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
Arts and Entertainment
film
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style