John Henry defends Liverpool transfer policy in open letter to fans


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The Independent Football

Liverpool's principal owner John Henry admits they have made mistakes during nearly two years at Anfield but insists they will never re-visit the errors of the past.

And the American remains fully committed to the plan Fenway Sports Group have identified to take the club forward, even if that means short-term pain for longer-term gain.

Having rescued Liverpool from the brink of administration after the disastrous reign of previous owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, whose highly-leveraged purchase in 2007 left the club with crippling loan payments, Henry said there would be no quick-fix from FSG.

"We are still in the process of reversing the errors of previous regimes," he said.

"It will not happen overnight. It has been compounded by our own mistakes in a difficult first two years of ownership.

"It has been a harsh education, but make no mistake, the club is healthier today than when we took over.

"We will build and grow from within, buy prudently and cleverly and never again waste resources on inflated transfer fees and unrealistic wages.

"We have no fear of spending and competing with the very best but we will not overpay for players.

"We will never place this club in the precarious position that we found it in when we took over at Anfield.

"This club should never again run up debts that threaten its existence.

"We will invest to succeed but we will not mortgage the future with risky spending."

Friday's closure of the transfer window brought howls of criticism from disgruntled fans - still waiting for a decision on a new stadium - after Brendan Rodgers' failure to secure a striker to replace misfit Andy Carroll, who was loaned out to West Ham 24 hours earlier.

It left the Reds looking well short up front as in addition to lacking an out-and-out striker as their two main forwards are Luis Suarez, who has yet to prove he can score consistently, and the inexperienced Fabio Borini.

Rodgers had hoped to complete a late deal for Fulham's Clint Dempsey but they were priced out of a move for the 29-year-old as Tottenham snatched him away from their grasp.

The Reds boss denied there was a rift between him and the owners and Henry stressed they saw the Northern Irishman as the long-term option to lead their vision for the club.

"After almost two years at Anfield, we are close to having the system we need in place," he wrote in an open letter to supporters.

"The transfer window may not have been perfect but we are not just looking at the next 16 weeks until we can buy again: we are looking at the next 16 years and beyond.

"These are the first steps in restoring one of the world's great clubs to its proper status.

"No one should doubt our commitment to the club. In Brendan Rodgers we have a talented young manager and we have valued highly his judgement about the make-up of the squad.

"This is a work in progress. It will take time for Brendan to instil his philosophy into the squad and build exactly what he needs for the long term.

"There will be short-term setbacks from time to time, but we believe we have the right people in place to bring more glory to Anfield."

The failure to bring in a striker means Rodgers may now have to look at free agents, with former Reds striker Michael Owen the most high profile of those available.

However, Press Association Sport understands there has been no move for the former England international and one is not imminent.

Henry's words suggest Owen, 33 in December, would not fit the bill and the same probably applied to Dempsey also.

"The transfer policy was not about cutting costs. It was - and will be in the future - about getting maximum value for what is spent so that we can build quality and depth," he added.

"Spending is not merely about buying talent. Our ambitions do not lie in cementing a mid-table place with expensive, short-term quick fixes that will only contribute for a couple of years.

"Our emphasis will be on developing our own players using the skills of an increasingly impressive coaching team.

"Much thought and investment already have gone into developing a self-sustaining pool of youngsters imbued in the club's traditions.

"That ethos is to win. Most of all, we want to win. That ambition drives every decision.

"We can and will generate the revenues to achieve that aim.

"Finally, I can say with authority that our ownership is not about profit.

"We have only one driving ambition at Liverpool and that is the quest to win the Premier League playing the kind of football our supporters want to see.

"That will only occur if we do absolutely the right things to build the club in a way that makes sense for supporters, for us and for those who will follow us.

"We will deliver what every long-term supporter of Liverpool Football Club aches for."