Reds owner defends transfer strategy

Liverpool's principal owner John Henry has defended the club's summer transfer business but admitted his disappointment at failing to add to their strike force.

Lots of experience left on the Liverpool bench...

Read also: Rodgers admits to Carroll mistake

Manager Brendan Rodgers offloaded misfit Andy Carroll to West Ham on loan a day before the deadline in the belief he would bring in a replacement more suited to his style of play.

However, the window closed without any new arrival and that has led to criticism from fans, with Rodgers admitting on Sunday he would not have allowed Carroll to leave had he not been very confident of bringing in someone else.

"I am as disappointed as anyone connected with Liverpool Football Club that we were unable to add further to our strike force in this summer transfer window," said Henry in an open letter published on liverpoolfc.com.

"But that was not through any lack of desire or effort on the part of all of those involved.

"They pushed hard in the final days of the transfer window on a number of forward targets and it is unfortunate that on this occasion we were unable to conclude acceptable deals to bring those targets in.

"But a summer window which brought in three young, but significantly talented starters in Joe Allen, Nuri Sahin and Fabio Borini as well as two exciting young potential stars of the future - Samed Yesil and Oussama Assaidi - could hardly be deemed a failure as we build for the future."

A lot of work, and cash, was expended on renewing the contracts of key players to ensure Rodgers retained solid foundations on which to build.

Henry also felt this was a significant move by the club.

"No-one should minimise the importance of keeping our best players during this window," he added.

"We successfully retained Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel and Luis Suarez.

"We greatly appreciate their faith and belief in the club and we successfully negotiated new, long-term contracts with Luis and with Martin."

Ever since Fenway Sports Group, of which Henry is the leading figure, bought the Reds in October 2010 they have insisted it is a long-term investment.

And Henry stressed their approach to spending this summer reflects that and will continue to do so in subsequent transfer windows.

"No-one should doubt our commitment to the club. In Brendan Rodgers we have a talented young manager and we have valued highly his judgement about the make-up of the squad," he said.

"This is a work in progress. It will take time for Brendan to instil his philosophy into the squad and build exactly what he needs for the long term.

"The transfer policy was not about cutting costs. It was - and will be in the future - about getting maximum value for what is spent so that we can build quality and depth.

"Spending is not merely about buying talent. Our ambitions do not lie in cementing a mid-table place with expensive, short-term quick fixes that will only contribute for a couple of years.

"Our emphasis will be on developing our own players using the skills of an increasingly impressive coaching team.

"Much thought and investment already have gone into developing a self-sustaining pool of youngsters imbued in the club's traditions.

"That ethos is to win. We will invest to succeed. But we will not mortgage the future with risky spending."

FSG rescued Liverpool from the brink of administration after the disappointing reign of previous owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, whose highly-leveraged purchase in 2007 left the club with crippling loan payments.

Henry is determined the financial model they are implementing will put Liverpool on a more stable footing for years to come while also meeting the Europe-wide restrictions soon to be implemented.

He says, however, that in the short term they are "still in the process of reversing the errors of previous regimes."

"It will not happen overnight. It has been compounded by our own mistakes in a difficult first two years of ownership," he said.

"It has been a harsh education, but make no mistake, the club is healthier today than when we took over.

"We are avowed proponents of UEFA's Financial Fair Play agenda that was this week reiterated by Mr (Michel) Platini - something we heartily applaud.

"We must comply with Financial Fair Play guidelines that ensure spending is tied to income.

"We have been successful in improving the commercial side of the club and the monies generated going forward will give us greater spending power in the coming years.

"We will build and grow from within, buy prudently and cleverly and never again waste resources on inflated transfer fees and unrealistic wages.

"We have no fear of spending and competing with the very best but we will not overpay for players.

"We will never place this club in the precarious position that we found it in when we took over at Anfield.

"This club should never again run up debts that threaten its existence."

With the window closed the only option available to Rodgers is a free agent.

Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen, out of contract since being released by Manchester United, has been linked with a return to Anfield.

However, the nature of his departure to Real Madrid in a cut-price deal still rankles with fans and his return would not be a repeat of the glorious homecoming Robbie Fowler enjoyed when he returned to the club in 2006.

Former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba is also being linked as his contract situation at Shanghai Shenhua, where he moved in the summer, is somewhat confused amid boardroom unrest at the Chinese club.

Asked after yesterday's defeat by Arsenal whether either could be an option, Rodgers said: "I can't say no. Any player I believe can improve the squad, I will look at.

"We have a very small group. We had 19 training (on Saturday). It is something that would have to be discussed."



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