Ever since Fenway Sports Group (FSG) and John W. Henry bought Liverpool in October 2010, their ownership has been questioned by a large section of the club's fans.
Their infamous approach to transfers, dubious knowledge of the English game, and tendency to refer to fans as 'customers' on occasion have all meant their popularity has been limited.
But, rewind to before they bought Liverpool, and the club was in a much worse situation than it is now.
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As is quite often the case, football fans seem to have very short memories. Liverpool FC was in absolute chaos as a result of the disastrous regime of Tom Hicks and George Gillett.
Hicks and Gillett came in and promised the world, but ultimately failed to deliver. Promises of a new stadium never materialised and there were financial issues, as well as a lot of fan backlash around their conduct; the duo very publicly announced their desire to bring in Jurgen Klinsmann in place of then-manager Rafa Benitez, the coach who had taken Liverpool to two Champions League finals in three years, winning one.
Undermining one of the most popular managers Liverpool have ever had is hardly the best way to endear yourself to supporters.
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FSG rescued Liverpool
Even when FSG eventually rescued Liverpool, buying the club for £300 million, Tom Hicks accused them of an “epic swindle”, taking them to court over an ‘illegal’ sale and ultimately losing the battle.
Compare Liverpool now to the time when FSG took over. The expansion of Anfield is almost complete, debts are paid off and the playing and coaching staff, as well as the facilities, have been upgraded.
Of course, some will point to the wasted money on players like Andy Carroll, who is still Liverpool’s record signing at £35 million, and the lack of genuine success on the pitch, with only one solitary League Cup, won in 2012 against Cardiff City.
Yet, FSG have steadied the ship, invested heavily, attracted a world-class manager in Jurgen Klopp, and are going about improving the club in a sensible and realistic manner. They got it wrong on ticket prices, but then changed their mind when they understood the fans' unhappiness. Not many owners would have the humility and desire to do that; just ask Arsenal fans.
Patience paying off
Before lambasting a lack of star signings or a perceived lack of progress, Liverpool fans will do well to imagine the alternative had FSG not come in. Other owners might have done, but there is no guarantee that they would have been able to manage the club financially anywhere near as effectively.
In addition, it is important to remember that the Premier League is becoming even more competitive, and even if Liverpool have improved, so have other teams around them.
There are now several clubs with greater or similar financial power to Liverpool, so managing what money can be invested is hugely important. Attracting big-money sponsorship deals with companies like Subway and BetVictor might not be exciting for fans, but it is a huge part of the modern game.
Leicester have proven that throwing money at a club is not necessarily the path to success, but maximising potential income to fund future investment is still important.
For now, patience is required, and in the long-term, the club and the team will be healthier as a result.
FSG are not perfect, but Henry and co. are learning and improving. There is no guarantee that any new owner that might want to come in would be able to do any better, and judging by the previous owners, it could be much worse. Financial stability is a prerequisite to on-the-field success, and that is where FSG’s strength lies.
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