Liverpool’s Principal Owner John W. Henry stated last night that he expects Liverpool to qualify for the Champions League and that star striker Luis Suarez will be integral to the progress at the club.
Henry was a speaker at MIT Sloan’s Sports Analytics Conference in Boston where he was asked about his decision to buy Liverpool. He said:
“I don’t think we were really prepared for buying a team in the English Premier League.
“We thought we knew a little bit about the sports business in 2010 when we bought Liverpool.
“We’ve learnt a lot of things that I never thought I would have to learn about.”
He also spoke about the warmth of the reception that Liverpool have received on their trips to Asia and Australia.
“We played [friendlies] in Australia and China. The depth and level of feeling that exists around the globe for Liverpool is unlike anything.”
He also spoke about the use of analytics in sports – FSG famously implemented the Moneyball concept at Boston Red Sox to win the World Series – and how they only provide a part of the whole picture.
“Virtually every transaction now has a $ sign in sports associated with it like for example a player transaction. You have to have analytics.
“They aren’t going to necessarily dictate everything that you do but they inform everything that you do.”
When quizzed about the vision for the future of Liverpool and how integral Suarez was to that, he replied:
“Well, he [Suarez] scored again today. Wyc [Grousebeck, co-owner of the Boston Celtics] and I have had discussions about Liverpool.
“Luis Suarez is the top scorer in the English Premier League, which is arguably the top soccer league in the world.
“It’s been great for Luis, it’s been great for us [Liverpool], and we will see what will happen at the end of the year.
“We have 3 gentlemen up front Suarez, Sterling, Sturridge, [they] are young, I think Luis, those 3 could be together for a long time.”
He touched upon the supposed buyout stipulation in Suarez’s contract that caused all the problems in last summer with Arsenal’s £40m+£1 bid.
“He [Suarez] had a buyout clause of £40m. Arsenal, one of our prime rivals – this year we’re tied for 2nd … we’re actually 2nd because of goal difference.
“They offered £40m+£1. What we’ve found … is that contracts don’t seem to mean a lot in England – actually, in world football.
“It doesn’t matter how long a player’s contract is, he can decide he’s leaving.
“We sold a player, Fernando Torres, for £50m, that we did not want to sell, we were forced to.
“Since apparently these contracts don’t seem to hold, we took the position that we’re just not selling.”
He also talked about Liverpool’s chances of securing Champions League football for next season, and he hasn’t given up on the title yet.
“I think we’re going to make the Champions League, we have a small chance of winning the Premier League this year.”
All quotes are courtesy Dave Phillips.