Roy Hodgson, the Liverpool manager, may have seen his side claim a much needed victory at the weekend but if he was hoping for further good news he would have been sorely disappointed yesterday. The Anfield club's new owners, New England Sports Ventures, revealed that they will not sanction any big-money signings in the January transfer window.
The news will also dismay Liverpool's supporters, who would have hoped that after the end of Tom Hicks' and George Gillett's tenure, a big signing could mark the start of a new era. Having examined Liverpool's books, the American owners are believed to be concerned by what they regard as over-spending in recent seasons: Hodgson himself spent £25m in his first summer in charge.
And although the purchase of the club has freed up funds for Hodgson to make signings, NESV have made clear that they expect value for money. "We have to be smart," said John W Henry, the group's principal backer, after the deal was completed. "We have to be more efficient. When we spend a dollar, it has to be wisely. We cannot afford player contracts that do not make long-term sense." The 61-year-old has made it clear already that he is not happy with the number of older players at the club who are earning big money on long contracts.
Henry is expected to play a hands-on role at Anfield, assessing Hodgson's transfer targets and setting budgets for contract renegotiations. His organisation is not thought to blame the former Fulham man for Liverpool's travails this season, but they do see it as evidence that a closer eye is needed on the club's transfer business.
Henry, a follower of Sabermetrics, the method of assessing players made famous by the book Moneyball, which explained how baseball's Oakland Athletics consistently overperformed in relation to their wage bill, is worried that Liverpool are failing to match where their spending suggests they should be in a league where wage bill generally mirrors league position.
Liverpool have the fourth-highest wage bill in the league but are currently marooned in 18th. "At the Red Sox, we invested a lot in management and the scouting system," said NESV chairman Tom Werner. "We believe the foundation of any good sports club has to be the experience, valuation and understanding of scouting."
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies