Liverpool lost 2-0 to Arsenal on Sunday. They've played 3 games and remain winless, losing twice and drawing once. It's Liverpool's worst start since 1962, and the team currently sit in 18th place. The fans are blaming the struggles on the team's lack of a forward striker. They're mad at John Henry for not shelling out the cash to buy a forward before the transfer window closed (there are only certain times during the year that players can change teams, the next window is in 4 months).
In response to the criticism, John Henry does what he and Larry Lucchino have done to Red Sox fans: write an open letter.
You can read it here. Basically, he blames the previous regime, claims he didn't want to overpay for mediocre talent, that he wants Liverpool to be a long-term contender not just improve slightly in the short-term, blames the previous regime again, and ends by saying "our ownership is not about profit."
My favorite line was "Contrary to popular opinion, owners rarely get involved in sports in order to generate cash." Apparently Mr. Henry never met Jeremy Jacobs, or any owner of an NFL team, or saw Eight Men Out. Just ask an NFL referee how unconcerned with profits owners are.
Liverpool fans are upset because they thought new ownership would infuse their team with new cash so they could compete with the Manchester Uniteds and Chelseas of the world. Sorry, mates, but Henry isn't an oil tycoon looking to supplement his ego by spending money improving a soccer team and winning trophies.
He bought Liverpool because it had an old, cherished yet undervalued and underexploited brand. But the jawless Henry bit off more than he can chew (which isn't difficult for a man whose mouth is so small). The competition and the spending in European soccer is too much for him to handle. He's a slow, aging predator that's trying to compete for food with sharks.
I do love the open-letter strategy. Who is naive enough to be suckered in by such an artificial attempt to bond with the fans?
I think there's a basic template for the Fenway Sports Group open-letter. Here's what it looks like:
1. Paragraph about understanding and feeling the fans' frustrations
2. Point out positive performance of certain players (e.g. Cody Ross)
3. Mention the talent that's remained with the team
4. Compliment and support current GM/managers
5. Explain to the simple-minded fans why our strategy is ingenious, even if they don't understand it, and even if on-field results have yet to manifest how smart we are
6. Blame the past for present and (most importantly) future difficulties
7. Use the word "ethos"
8. Say: "It will not be easy, it will not be perfect, but there is a clear vision at work."
9. Allude to the history of the team and the desire to return team to glory
10. Promise to be better
In the open-letter, mention at least 5 players and 1 front-office person or field manager. And use as many 1st person plural pronouns as possible.
Who else wants to beat the tar out of John Henry? He's a cocky, smells-his-own-farts, overly talkative prick. He doesn't know anything about baseball or soccer. He's some Midwestern carpetbagger that doesn't give a damn about Boston or Liverpool or the Red Sox or Liverpool FC. He uses these teams to build himself an ego and earn himself enough money to buy another team.
My open letter to John Henry:
Go fuck yourself.