No ordinary Joe: meet the Red Sox man set to run Liverpool

'Baseball is my business, Liverpool FC is my passion,' says Joe Januszewski, a fan since tragedy of Hillsborough

Matt Fleming
Tuesday 19 October 2010 00:00 BST
(Getty Images)

Trawl through the who's who of Boston Red Sox employees on their website and Joe Januszewski is only the 130th name you will find, an unremarkable senior vice-president of corporate sales at Fenway Park. America's Reggie Perrin would be doing him a disservice, but he is hardly the right-hand man of John Henry, the Red Sox – and now Liverpool's – owner. That may soon change though, since Januszewski is the man most likely to be put in charge of the day-to-day running, and possible overhaul, of the struggling Premier League club.

To Liverpool's fans, Januszewski may sound like another Yank with no connection to the club, no passion, and very little understanding of its history – a worrying echo of those other Americans they are so happy to see the back of, Tom Hicks and George Gillett. But that could not be further from the truth – Januszewski has been a fan for 20 years.

"People walk into my office at Fenway Park and, OK, I work for the Boston Red Sox but there is another club that wears red which has a pretty solid representation on my wall," he said. "There's souvenirs, ticket stubs, all the rest. People look at me and say, 'What's the deal?' I tell them baseball is my business but Liverpool FC is my passion.

"My first connection with LFC was rooted in tragedy," he said . "I remember the horrible footage of Hillsborough in April 1989 on the television. I remember my mother crying. I don't have to tell you about the horrific imagery. As a child who grew up loving football and having a dad who loved The Beatles and played them on those reel-to-reel things. There was a Liverpool emotional connection, as thin as that may seem.

Januszewski's comment that his "knowledge you could put in a thimble [compared] to your average Merseysider," may well be tinged with modesty – he first became a football fan in the 1970s when his family lived in West Germany and he played throughout his youth. And he also knew enough of the worsening situation at Anfield to set the wheels in motion for New England Sports Ventures' takeover.

"I sent an email to John and [the Red Sox CEO] Larry Lucchino a couple of months ago and told them to monitor the ownership situation," he said. "It was as a fan really. But also as a businessman who follows sport. I told him my bags are always packed for Liverpool, I know a great couple of places if you need a tour guide."

Henry, who has admitted he detected a hint of "Save my club!" desperation in Januszewski's recommendation, made sure his resident fan accompanied him and his true right-hand man, Thomas Werner, the Boston Red Sox chairman, on NESV's mission to Merseyside last week. This increased the likelihood that he may well offer Januszewski his dream job.

But then he will have to face the nightmare unfolding on the pitch. Joe Cole, the £90,000-a-week midfielder who has been far from a success since his summer arrival, lent his support to the cause of his struggling manager, Roy Hodgson yesterday in the wake of the weekend 2-0 derby defeat to Everton that left Liverpool in the bottom three.

"We are right behind the manager. We all believe in the team and in the club," Cole said. "We have just got to stick together. We are doing a lot of things right but we have got to cut out what we're doing wrong.

"It's disappointing to lose such a big game but in these situations, the worst thing you can do is start pointing fingers at each other. We have got to look at ourselves. We have got to do better."

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