CRAIG NELSON: Anfield’s stability and a transfer war chest means the future is Red
6:00pm Saturday 26th April 2014 in Sport
EVERYTHING I see and hear about Liverpool makes me think that they could be the dominant force in the Premier League for years to come – not just this season.
Things change quickly in football, but it seems to me the combination of manager Brendan Rodgers, managing director Ian Ayre and American owner John Henry is the most stable of all the division’s big five clubs.
If you look at the Premier League’s other heavyweights – Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal – there is inherent uncertainty in the relationships between the key figures at each club.
Henry has shown in his backing of Rodgers over the past two seasons that he trusts his manager’s decision-making 100 per cent.
While many pundits were left scratching their heads at the Liverpool boss’s desire to ship Andy Carroll out of the club at the start of last season, without a ready-made replacement, Rodgers was left to get on with his squad re-building.
Leaving himself short on attacking options was a risk and showed a commitment to a bigger picture, rather than achieving short-term results.
Rodgers knew the style of football he wanted to play and Carroll didn’t fit the bill, eventually bringing in Daniel Sturridge to partner Luis Suarez.
Henry and Ayre again showed a steady nerve when their manager insisted on holding on to Suarez, despite starting this season with a 10-match ban for biting Chelsea’s Vranislav Ivanovic.
It would have been easy to cash in on the flawed genius by off-loading him to Arsenal, but Liverpool stood firm and are now reaping the rewards.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing but looking at the shaky hierarchies of Liverpool’s rivals, their Phoenix-like rise now makes perfect sense.
Where Liverpool have had a plan and stuck to it, Chelsea and Manchester City have thrown money at their pursuit of the Premier League prize and switched their managers at the first sign of trouble.
Manchester United were supposed to be different, they didn’t make knee-jerk reactions, but it now just seems it was Sir Alex Ferguson who was special, not the club.
Arsenal could never be accused of being reactionary, considering how long Arsene Wenger has stayed at the helm without winning a trophy. But the North London club’s route to success seems hamstrung by a lingering power struggle at the very top.
So that leaves Liverpool, who started the season as an outside bet for a Champions League place but will almost certainly finish it as champions for the first time in 23 years, if they can beat Chelsea at Anfield tomorrow.
Add to that the owner’s promise of a sizeable war chest for Rodgers in the summer and the planned expansion of Anfield and all of a sudden the future looks bright – bright Red.