Belfast Telegraph

Ayre defends 'tough' owners

Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre does not believe the club's owners have alienated themselves from supporters with the dismissal of Kenny Dalglish and their trans-Atlantic style of management.

Opinion among fans is still divided over whether principal owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner were right to dismiss Dalglish, a club icon, on Wednesday. That decision, plus the ongoing stadium delays, appears to have brought to an end Fenway Sports Group's honeymoon period dating back to when they took over in October 2010.

But Ayre insists FSG's intention to make tough calls should not be confused with a lack of respect for fans. "I don't think in any way would they alienate themselves. This was such a difficult decision because it was Kenny," he said.

"If Liverpool fans feel the owners have alienated themselves because they make tough decisions for Liverpool to restore it to greatness then that is for people to decide.

"But they have an absolute commitment to the club and the fans and when they are here they make themselves completely accessible. I think what you need in football is a strong will to win and a commitment to making some difficult decisions.

"We speak almost daily. They are very aware of pretty much all of what is going on but they are able to have a more dispassionate view sometimes. "I don't see distance as an issue."

Their approach for Wigan manager Roberto Martinez and failed attempt to speak to Swansea boss Brendan Rodgers have so far left supporters feeling underwhelmed by their choice of candidates to take over at Anfield.

But there are a number of other candidates on FSG's shortlist. Former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola, ex-England boss Fabio Capello, Borussia Dortmund's Jurgen Klopp, Marseille's Didier Deschamps and former Porto and Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas have all been linked.

The absence of Champions League football for a third season running is likely to be an issue for some candidates but Ayre hopes the right man sees the bigger issue. "The reason I don't think it will have an effect is if you lined up most managers in football and asked them if Liverpool would be a great club to manage and most people would aspire to do so I think they would say 'Yes'."


From Belfast Telegraph