Author Topic: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach  (Read 47767 times)

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John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
The following is excerpted from THE CLUB: How the English Premier League Became the Wildest, Richest, Most Disruptive Force in Sports © 2018 by Joshua Robinson and Jonathan Clegg.

As far as John W. Henry was concerned, there was no question who should pay for lunch. The guy across the table owed him that much.

Just one day earlier, Henry had pumped some $50 million into one of the businesses owned by his lunchtime companion. So when a waiter came to present the check on a warm June day in the summer of 2017, the owner of the Boston Red Sox leaned back in his chair and waited.

Henry had known James Pallotta for years. They were members of Boston’s clique of finance billionaires turned sports owners. Henry had his ballclub; Pallotta had a stake in the Boston Celtics. But in recent years, their enthusiasm for spending large sums on sports teams had taken them across the Atlantic, to a place where they found that their decades of American business experience were easily lost in translation.

Henry had acquired Liverpool Football Club in the English Premier League, while Pallotta picked up AS Roma of Italy’s Serie A. Which is why the two men were now sharing war stories at a swanky Boston restaurant.

Earlier that week, their clubs had successfully negotiated the transfer of a 25-year-old Egyptian forward from Roma to Liverpool. His name was Mohamed Salah and Liverpool had spent 42 million Euros of Henry’s money to pry him away.

“It seemed like a lot of Euros at the time!” Henry says now.

In hindsight, it was a bargain. Over the next 12 months, Salah would bang in 32 goals in 36 league games for Liverpool, lighting up English soccer with a combination of creativity, ruthlessness and blistering speed not seen since Cristiano Ronaldo left the Premier League for Real Madrid a decade before.

In the history of Henry’s tenure as owner of Liverpool, the deal to sign Salah would be seen as a turning point, the moment when Liverpool re-emerged as a genuine force in European soccer. Today, Liverpool is hot on the heels of Abu Dhabi-funded Manchester City and looks like the only club capable of preventing a oil-soaked dynasty from settling on the Premier League.

But for Henry, the Salah deal marked another turning point, the time when a hedge fund billionaire who had made a fortune in the markets, and later won four World Series rings by outsmarting the rest of baseball with an innovative data-driven approach finally came to embrace a cold reality.

No matter how clever you think you are, there is only one tried and tested way to succeed in the English Premier League: You have to spend a fortune.

In 2010, spending tens of millions of dollars on soccer players was the furthest from John Henry’s mind. He barely knew anything about the English game, much less about the English game’s most historically successful team. In fact, he’d never even heard of Liverpool Football Club.

But Henry, a wispy, gray-haired trader, did know a thing or two about cashing in on storied teams with massive fan bases, celebrated stadiums and long championship droughts. As the owner of the Red Sox, he had delivered the team its first World Series title in 86 years. His introduction to Liverpool came from an unlikely source: a text message from an employee in the Red Sox corporate sales department named Joe Januszewski. It contained a simple request. “Save my club!”

That was the gist of it, anyway. In a follow-up email, Januszewski outlined the parlous state that Liverpool—the most successful team in England in the 20th century but without a league title since 1990—had fallen into under its current owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr. Their takeover of the club, through a leveraged buyout, had saddled Liverpool with eye-watering debts of £351 million. The club faced a genuine risk of bankruptcy. With the deadline for repayment looming, its loans had been moved to the Royal Bank of Scotland’s toxic-assets division, and the Anfield boardroom had descended into open warfare. The co-owners were no longer on speaking terms; the club was being run by a three-man board that was currently negotiating to sell the team to one of four interested parties despite furious opposition from Hicks, who had unsuccessfully attempted to have them all fired. By speakerphone.

For Liverpool fans, this unseemly squabble represented a threat to their beloved club’s future. For a sharp-eyed investor, however, it represented a tantalizing opportunity.

“In my opinion it would be the deal of the century,” Januszewski wrote in his email. “Liverpool FC are a top-five sports brand worldwide and are just begging to be properly marketed and leveraged globally among the soccer-mad masses.”

Liverpool had missed the Premier League’s first marketing explosion, but Januszewski was right. The club embodied the authenticity and ancient tradition that new Premier League fans around the world found themselves drawn to.

For any Premier League investor in the market for something iconic, this was the club.

On October 15, 2010, exactly 66 days after Januszewski’s email dropped into his in-box, Henry was introduced as Liverpool’s new owner.

“We have a history of winning,” Henry declared after completing his takeover. “And today we want Liverpool supporters to know that this approach is what we intend to bring to this great club.”

It didn’t take long for Henry to realize that the winning might have to wait a while. The $487 million that FSG (Fenway Sports Group) had spent to acquire the club, he realized, had bought a lot of headaches. Hicks and Gillett had left Liverpool with a mediocre squad of aging players, a deeply unpopular manager and absolutely no idea what to do about the team’s fabled stadium, which needed to be redeveloped to bring it up to modern money-making standards or else abandoned in favor of building a new venue altogether.

Still, Henry wasn’t unduly fazed. The Red Sox had been faced with similar problems when he arrived there, and as he learned more about his new team and the broader landscape of English soccer, he began to feel certain that the same tricks he used in Boston would work 4,000 miles away in another cold northern city with rabidly loyal supporters—Liverpool Nation—and its own 90-year-old stadium.

“It became clear to me there were a number of similarities between the Reds and the Red Sox, as well as Liverpool and Boston and their respective fan bases,” Henry said. What English soccer needed, he decided, was some good old-fashioned American innovation.

The first challenge was to improve Liverpool on the pitch. It was no secret how the owners had done this in Boston. In fact, they were shooting a Hollywood movie about it.

Technically, Moneyball was about the Oakland A’s and their stats-obsessed general manager Billy Beane, not the Red Sox. But no team in Major League Baseball had stuck to its central thesis—a data-driven approach to identifying value that others have missed—more scrupulously or successfully than the Red Sox. One of Henry’s first moves after buying the team was to try to hire Beane, though the job ended up going to Theo Epstein, who picked up a bunch of players for relative peanuts and helped the Red Sox win the World Series the next year.

Henry knew the formula that built Boston into a baseball champion couldn’t be imported wholesale into English soccer. But he suspected that the embrace of data analytics to drive team-building strategy could yield similar results. So when it came to hiring an executive to oversee player recruitment at Liverpool, Henry knew just the man to talk to.

Billy Beane.

“Billy had been closely studying the Premier League,” Henry said. “[He] called me shortly after the acquisition to recommend Damien Comolli as someone who had a similar viewpoint to his way of approaching baseball.”

Which is how Comolli, a bookish Frenchman, ended up as director of football at Liverpool not long after the FSG takeover. With Comolli in charge of recruiting players, Liverpool now needed someone to coach them. Eager to get the fans back onside, Henry replaced him with a bonafide legend: Kenny Dalglish, back for a second spell as manager some 20 years after walking away in the wake of the Hillsborough stadium tragedy.

The playing side now set, Henry could turn his attention to the club’s commercial operations, which he felt were sorely in need of some U.S. sports know-how. Despite a huge global following, Liverpool lagged far behind its rivals in worldwide sponsorship and commercial revenues.

“We thought we could significantly boost revenues and work toward getting to a level playing field with Manchester United,” he said.

Henry felt confident about turning Liverpool around because he trusted his own decision-making process. The other Premier League owners were mostly impatient and undisciplined. But Henry would operate with the same deliberate, analytical approach he had always relied on.

For once, it turned out Henry had made a small miscalculation. What he would soon discover—to his not inconsiderable cost—is there are few benefits to be gained from a rational approach if you aren’t operating in a rational environment. And whatever else has been said about English soccer over the years, no one has ever accused it of that. Before long, Henry realized his error. The Premier League was a madhouse.

Within days of acquiring Liverpool, he was accused of orchestrating an “epic swindle” by former owner Tom Hicks, who filed a claim for £1 billion in damages in a Dallas court.

Those claims were summarily dismissed, but it wasn’t long before Henry found himself battling a controversy that was harder to shake off. In a high-profile clash against Manchester United in 2011, Liverpool’s star forward, Luis Suarez, racially abused United defender Patrice Evra.

Back in Boston, Henry watched events unfold with a mixture of disbelief and dismay. He had seen some deeply strange things in his time at the Red Sox. He had employed Manny Ramirez for seven years. But nothing in his time in baseball had prepared him to deal with this sort of unholy mess.

On the field, things were proving just as delicate to navigate. Henry’s championship Red Sox teams were built on identifying market inefficiencies. But two years into Henry’s ownership, Liverpool’s efforts to unearth similar inefficiencies in the Premier League were beginning to look like an expensive mistake.

In the two years following FSG’s takeover, Liverpool had embarked on a $170 million spending spree that amounted to a pricey bet on their data-driven approach. The strategy behind the moves seemed clear, if a little simplistic. One year after finishing sixth in the Premier League partly because of scoring just 59 goals in 38 games, Liverpool had recruited some of the most prolific creators of chances in English soccer. The club’s internal data revealed that three of its new signings had been ranked in the top eight in chances created the season before.

The Red Sox had won games by getting runners on base. Now Liverpool was going to try to win games by creating shots on goal.

It all sounded good in theory. Tom Werner even invoked Theo Epstein’s name when praising Liverpool’s transfer dealings that summer. “There is no question that Damien Comolli is cut from the same cloth as Theo,” Werner said.

But within a few months, it became clear that Liverpool’s fancy algorithms needed some work. The club’s mission to create more scoring chances ended with Liverpool’s tying the record for the lowest number of league goals in their history. At the end of the season, Comolli was fired and followed Dalglish out the door.

“He did not really turn out to be someone who believed in the Moneyball-type of approach,” Henry recalled.

What Henry was starting to understand was that the laws that govern U.S. sports—or the worlds of business, finance, or basic math, for that matter—frequently don’t apply to English soccer. And even those that do weren’t applied frequently enough for Henry’s liking. Take player contracts. When Liverpool acquired Suarez, he signed a five-year contract, and Liverpool were expected to pay him for the duration of that contract regardless of injury, loss of form, or a sudden proclivity for biting opponents. But if Suarez decided he wanted to move on before that five-year contract expired, he was basically free to do so. Liverpool would receive a fee, of course. But in the world of soccer, contract law went out the window when a player—or his agent—decided it was time to go. No club could hold a player who wished to leave for long. They would eventually go. They always did.

Henry didn’t think much of this arrangement. When Suarez decided it was time to move in the summer of 2013, his preferred destination was Arsenal. Liverpool didn’t want to lose Suarez—especially not to a Premier League rival—but there was one minor catch. His contract contained a release clause that stipulated he was free to leave if any club bid more than £40 million. Which made it rather awkward when Arsenal submitted an offer for Suarez in July for exactly £40,000,001.

By the terms of his contract, Suarez was free to leave Anfield. But, back then, Henry was still convinced he could change the way these games were played. So he took a leaf out of the players’ manual.

“What we’ve found is that contracts don’t seem to mean a lot in England—actually, in world football,” Henry later explained. “Since apparently these contracts don’t seem to hold, we took the position that we’re just not selling.”

The audacious move infuriated Arsenal and delighted Liverpool’s fans. When Henry tweeted about the developments later that day—“What do you think they’re smoking over there at Emirates?”—it infuriated Arsenal and delighted Liverpool’s fan even more.

But if Henry hoped his hard line would help to usher in the sort of binding contracts that exist in U.S. sports, he would be disappointed. His stance toward Suarez—and later toward the Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho—succeeded in keeping them at Anfield, but only temporarily. Both ended up joining Barcelona.

As he approached the end of his first decade in English soccer, Henry had long given up searching for Moneyball bargains. He had a new plan to turn Liverpool into title contender, and this one involved mountains of cold, hard cash.

Months after signing Salah, Henry broke the club’s transfer record by spending $90 million on defender Virgil van Dijk. He followed that the following summer by enacting its plan to win immediately and pulled the trigger on $211 million worth of transfers, more than any other club in England. That included nearly $70 million for a 23-year-old from Guinea named Naby Keita and $72 million for Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson Becker, then a world record for the position.

So far, Henry’s new tack appears to be working. Liverpool sits in first and is the last remaining undefeated club in the Premier League this season after Manchester City's loss to Chelsea. It only took Henry eight years to realize that cracking English soccer was a little bit trickier to than solving Major League Baseball.

“I don’t believe you can find a more challenging enterprise,” Henry said, “than to try to win in English football.”
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Offline goalrushatgoodison

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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2018, 03:30:48 PM »
Thanks for that, a good read. Leaves one outstanding question though.

Did Pallotta cough up for the lunch?
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Offline AlphaDelta

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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2018, 03:33:08 PM »
Cracking read, so this Joe Januszewski is the guy responsible?
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Offline MolbyLovesGravlax

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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2018, 03:38:10 PM »
Thanks for that, a good read. Leaves one outstanding question though.

Did Pallotta cough up for the lunch?

Salah, Alisson and a free lunch, that is just taking the piss...
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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2018, 03:43:05 PM »
It's all a bit sensationalist. Even with money you have to be savvy with transfers. Dalglish signed for a British transfer fee but doesn't mean it wasn't a savvy piece of business. When Chelsea took their eye off the ball and indulged with the likes of Shevchenko, man united snuck back in. The key to that was Ronaldo who they bought as an 18 year old, big money on back ups like berbatov and getting the best out of cheap players like vidic, evra, brown and Park. We've done exactly the same with robbo, gomes, trent, milner, gini. Even salah was cheap in hindsight. What's central to all of this is the skill of end manager and backing him when he asks to be backed at key moments.
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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2018, 03:56:00 PM »
That was good, have read epic swindle so this is a pretty good companion peace :)

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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2018, 04:18:53 PM »
Had me in stitches in places :lmao


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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2018, 04:29:55 PM »
Misses one extraordinarily huge part of the jigsaw. A certain German genius.

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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2018, 04:36:55 PM »
Interesting read but I don’t think it’s right on a few points.

Football contracts aren’t special - they can be terminated by agreement at any time like any other contract. And they can be bought out if the appropriate compensation can be agreed.

And ‘Moneyball’ has often been mis-represented as ‘buy low-sell high’ as a money-making exercise when the original principle was about getting away from the traditional methods of selecting players and identifying a player’s true value based on what they could add to the team. In baseball it’s easier to identify the metrics to apply, and it’s fair to say that the club’s scouting team and Klopp have become pretty clinical in selecting the players they wanted regardless of recieved wisdom of their ability or value.

Andy Robertson and Shaquiri were either derided or went under the radar. The transfer of Oxlade-Chamberlain was subject to endless ‘humorous’ memes but he’s now a player most Liverpool fans are keen to see back from injury.

And if there’s a need that can only be addressed by a particular player then you pay what it takes. It’s still ‘moneyball’ to pay £75 m for a centre-back if his value to the team is almost immeasurable as it is with Virgil.

Manchester United in recent years has been the epitome of the old approach - spend big money on marquee players simply because they are marquee players with no idea how they might fit into a system.
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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2018, 04:46:28 PM »
Misses one extraordinarily huge part of the jigsaw. A certain German genius.

Was a little vague towards the end of the piece and left out the work of Michael Edwards and his team in driving the hardest bargains on players like Coutinho  and bringing in absolute gems like Bobby, Salah and Robbo, as well as spending the cash when it mattered on VVD and Alisson. But the first part was a good read

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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #10 on: December 23, 2018, 05:02:15 PM »
Nice Little read that, brought me back to some highs and lows both before and during Henry's ownership.
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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #11 on: December 23, 2018, 05:13:11 PM »
Was a little vague towards the end of the piece and left out the work of Michael Edwards and his team in driving the hardest bargains on players like Coutinho  and bringing in absolute gems like Bobby, Salah and Robbo, as well as spending the cash when it mattered on VVD and Alisson. But the first part was a good read

Yea plenty interesting stuff too. But Kloppo is the masterstroke in my opinion.

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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #12 on: December 23, 2018, 05:15:40 PM »
Please don't let Al see this thread.
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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #13 on: December 23, 2018, 07:01:47 PM »
All starts and stops with the manger.

Kenny/Comolli spent big money (for that time)

Rodgers had multiple big spending windows

Recruitment was the biggest downfall for both.

Klopp's recruitment has been absolutely spot on. Add to that he's tactically better for the modern game than his predecessors. Rodgers was just not ready, and the King, sadly, the game had passed him by, and players like Downing let him down badly cause they had shite mentality.

I'm a fan of FSG for backing the boss, but really, its all down to selling big (ie Coutinho), the CL revenue and buying fucking smart (Robertson, Salah, Mane etc) who are all ludicrous bargains in hindsight. It also helps that the boss can attract top players when there's competition (Fabinho, Keita etc).

World class manager doing world class things, signing world class players and getting us to be a top club again. Did I mention I love Klopp? Edwards seems like he is fucking top notch at his job too.
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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #14 on: December 23, 2018, 07:02:23 PM »
Misses one extraordinarily huge part of the jigsaw. A certain German genius.

Agree completely.

The transformation in the Clubs fortunes occurred for me when FSG stopped trying to re-invent the wheel and brought in a truly World class manager.
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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #15 on: December 23, 2018, 07:52:29 PM »
Interesting read but I don’t think it’s right on a few points.

Football contracts aren’t special - they can be terminated by agreement at any time like any other contract. And they can be bought out if the appropriate compensation can be agreed.

And ‘Moneyball’ has often been mis-represented as ‘buy low-sell high’ as a money-making exercise when the original principle was about getting away from the traditional methods of selecting players and identifying a player’s true value based on what they could add to the team. In baseball it’s easier to identify the metrics to apply, and it’s fair to say that the club’s scouting team and Klopp have become pretty clinical in selecting the players they wanted regardless of recieved wisdom of their ability or value.

Andy Robertson and Shaquiri were either derided or went under the radar. The transfer of Oxlade-Chamberlain was subject to endless ‘humorous’ memes but he’s now a player most Liverpool fans are keen to see back from injury.

And if there’s a need that can only be addressed by a particular player then you pay what it takes. It’s still ‘moneyball’ to pay £75 m for a centre-back if his value to the team is almost immeasurable as it is with Virgil.

Manchester United in recent years has been the epitome of the old approach - spend big money on marquee players simply because they are marquee players with no idea how they might fit into a system.

I too hate the constant misrepresentation of Moneyball as some kind of simple buy low - sell high kind of bargain hunting. At the Oakland A's, they started looking at On Base Percentage (that treats 'walks' as the same as hitting a single) rather than just simply the traditional measure of Batting Average (a simple ratio of 'at bats' to´hits' that actually subtracts the 'walks' from the total 'at bats' as if they are not controlable). Basically they were giving players credit for being disciplined hitters that earned walks. So they were measuring and valuing players differently rather than just buying cheap. Plus they were building a batting line-up of these types of players that had discipline and fatigued opposing pitchers.  Plus, they are a small market team and they must be cheap, no matter how they choose players.

John Henry is a baseball fan (stats freaks) and an investment professional (stats freaks). He was drawn to moneyball by the creative use of stats, not how cheap they were buying.

Klopp is a great fit because he looks for a few key characteristics for all his players. There are traits and skills that all players, in any position must have or develop. Rodgers was a poorer fit as he tended to change what he valued over time. Not knocking Rodgers, but he was less suited to a player recruitment system. Then again, Rodgers 'broke in' our recruitment team and Klopp came in and profitted from that. :)
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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #16 on: December 23, 2018, 07:58:16 PM »
All starts and stops with the manger.

Kenny/Comolli spent big money (for that time)

Rodgers had multiple big spending windows

Recruitment was the biggest downfall for both.

Klopp's recruitment has been absolutely spot on. Add to that he's tactically better for the modern game than his predecessors. Rodgers was just not ready, and the King, sadly, the game had passed him by, and players like Downing let him down badly cause they had shite mentality.

I'm a fan of FSG for backing the boss, but really, its all down to selling big (ie Coutinho), the CL revenue and buying fucking smart (Robertson, Salah, Mane etc) who are all ludicrous bargains in hindsight. It also helps that the boss can attract top players when there's competition (Fabinho, Keita etc).

World class manager doing world class things, signing world class players and getting us to be a top club again. Did I mention I love Klopp? Edwards seems like he is fucking top notch at his job too.

Without doubt Klopp is the masterstroke, but important work such as identifying and acquiring the right transfer targets is also a very important part (Bobby and Mo were not Klopp selections, but obviously he had enough respect for edwards etc to agree to Mo.) Also, the stabilisation of the club and delaying sacking Rogers till Klopp was available was down to FSG. It's a wonderful team behind the team.
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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #17 on: December 23, 2018, 08:05:01 PM »
Just tell them that I totally disagree with whatever they're saying
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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #18 on: December 23, 2018, 08:26:45 PM »
Misses one extraordinarily huge part of the jigsaw. A certain German genius.
I got the piece from Sports Illustrated and it said it was an excerpt from a book, so I'm guessing they go into greater detail about us and other clubs in it. I assume they were focusing on John Henry because the excerpt was aimed at an American audience.
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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #19 on: December 23, 2018, 08:29:50 PM »
John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
The following is excerpted from THE CLUB: How the English Premier League Became the Wildest, Richest, Most Disruptive Force in Sports © 2018 by Joshua Robinson and Jonathan Clegg.

As far as John W. Henry was concerned, there was no question who should pay for lunch. The guy across the table owed him that much.

Just one day earlier, Henry had pumped some $50 million into one of the businesses owned by his lunchtime companion. So when a waiter came to present the check on a warm June day in the summer of 2017, the owner of the Boston Red Sox leaned back in his chair and waited.

Henry had known James Pallotta for years. They were members of Boston’s clique of finance billionaires turned sports owners. Henry had his ballclub; Pallotta had a stake in the Boston Celtics. But in recent years, their enthusiasm for spending large sums on sports teams had taken them across the Atlantic, to a place where they found that their decades of American business experience were easily lost in translation.

Henry had acquired Liverpool Football Club in the English Premier League, while Pallotta picked up AS Roma of Italy’s Serie A. Which is why the two men were now sharing war stories at a swanky Boston restaurant.

Earlier that week, their clubs had successfully negotiated the transfer of a 25-year-old Egyptian forward from Roma to Liverpool. His name was Mohamed Salah and Liverpool had spent 42 million Euros of Henry’s money to pry him away.

“It seemed like a lot of Euros at the time!” Henry says now.

In hindsight, it was a bargain. Over the next 12 months, Salah would bang in 32 goals in 36 league games for Liverpool, lighting up English soccer with a combination of creativity, ruthlessness and blistering speed not seen since Cristiano Ronaldo left the Premier League for Real Madrid a decade before.

In the history of Henry’s tenure as owner of Liverpool, the deal to sign Salah would be seen as a turning point, the moment when Liverpool re-emerged as a genuine force in European soccer. Today, Liverpool is hot on the heels of Abu Dhabi-funded Manchester City and looks like the only club capable of preventing a oil-soaked dynasty from settling on the Premier League.

But for Henry, the Salah deal marked another turning point, the time when a hedge fund billionaire who had made a fortune in the markets, and later won four World Series rings by outsmarting the rest of baseball with an innovative data-driven approach finally came to embrace a cold reality.

No matter how clever you think you are, there is only one tried and tested way to succeed in the English Premier League: You have to spend a fortune.

In 2010, spending tens of millions of dollars on soccer players was the furthest from John Henry’s mind. He barely knew anything about the English game, much less about the English game’s most historically successful team. In fact, he’d never even heard of Liverpool Football Club.

But Henry, a wispy, gray-haired trader, did know a thing or two about cashing in on storied teams with massive fan bases, celebrated stadiums and long championship droughts. As the owner of the Red Sox, he had delivered the team its first World Series title in 86 years. His introduction to Liverpool came from an unlikely source: a text message from an employee in the Red Sox corporate sales department named Joe Januszewski. It contained a simple request. “Save my club!”

That was the gist of it, anyway. In a follow-up email, Januszewski outlined the parlous state that Liverpool—the most successful team in England in the 20th century but without a league title since 1990—had fallen into under its current owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr. Their takeover of the club, through a leveraged buyout, had saddled Liverpool with eye-watering debts of £351 million. The club faced a genuine risk of bankruptcy. With the deadline for repayment looming, its loans had been moved to the Royal Bank of Scotland’s toxic-assets division, and the Anfield boardroom had descended into open warfare. The co-owners were no longer on speaking terms; the club was being run by a three-man board that was currently negotiating to sell the team to one of four interested parties despite furious opposition from Hicks, who had unsuccessfully attempted to have them all fired. By speakerphone.

For Liverpool fans, this unseemly squabble represented a threat to their beloved club’s future. For a sharp-eyed investor, however, it represented a tantalizing opportunity.

“In my opinion it would be the deal of the century,” Januszewski wrote in his email. “Liverpool FC are a top-five sports brand worldwide and are just begging to be properly marketed and leveraged globally among the soccer-mad masses.”

Liverpool had missed the Premier League’s first marketing explosion, but Januszewski was right. The club embodied the authenticity and ancient tradition that new Premier League fans around the world found themselves drawn to.

For any Premier League investor in the market for something iconic, this was the club.

On October 15, 2010, exactly 66 days after Januszewski’s email dropped into his in-box, Henry was introduced as Liverpool’s new owner.

“We have a history of winning,” Henry declared after completing his takeover. “And today we want Liverpool supporters to know that this approach is what we intend to bring to this great club.”

It didn’t take long for Henry to realize that the winning might have to wait a while. The $487 million that FSG (Fenway Sports Group) had spent to acquire the club, he realized, had bought a lot of headaches. Hicks and Gillett had left Liverpool with a mediocre squad of aging players, a deeply unpopular manager and absolutely no idea what to do about the team’s fabled stadium, which needed to be redeveloped to bring it up to modern money-making standards or else abandoned in favor of building a new venue altogether.

Still, Henry wasn’t unduly fazed. The Red Sox had been faced with similar problems when he arrived there, and as he learned more about his new team and the broader landscape of English soccer, he began to feel certain that the same tricks he used in Boston would work 4,000 miles away in another cold northern city with rabidly loyal supporters—Liverpool Nation—and its own 90-year-old stadium.

“It became clear to me there were a number of similarities between the Reds and the Red Sox, as well as Liverpool and Boston and their respective fan bases,” Henry said. What English soccer needed, he decided, was some good old-fashioned American innovation.

The first challenge was to improve Liverpool on the pitch. It was no secret how the owners had done this in Boston. In fact, they were shooting a Hollywood movie about it.

Technically, Moneyball was about the Oakland A’s and their stats-obsessed general manager Billy Beane, not the Red Sox. But no team in Major League Baseball had stuck to its central thesis—a data-driven approach to identifying value that others have missed—more scrupulously or successfully than the Red Sox. One of Henry’s first moves after buying the team was to try to hire Beane, though the job ended up going to Theo Epstein, who picked up a bunch of players for relative peanuts and helped the Red Sox win the World Series the next year.

Henry knew the formula that built Boston into a baseball champion couldn’t be imported wholesale into English soccer. But he suspected that the embrace of data analytics to drive team-building strategy could yield similar results. So when it came to hiring an executive to oversee player recruitment at Liverpool, Henry knew just the man to talk to.

Billy Beane.

“Billy had been closely studying the Premier League,” Henry said. “[He] called me shortly after the acquisition to recommend Damien Comolli as someone who had a similar viewpoint to his way of approaching baseball.”

Which is how Comolli, a bookish Frenchman, ended up as director of football at Liverpool not long after the FSG takeover. With Comolli in charge of recruiting players, Liverpool now needed someone to coach them. Eager to get the fans back onside, Henry replaced him with a bonafide legend: Kenny Dalglish, back for a second spell as manager some 20 years after walking away in the wake of the Hillsborough stadium tragedy.

The playing side now set, Henry could turn his attention to the club’s commercial operations, which he felt were sorely in need of some U.S. sports know-how. Despite a huge global following, Liverpool lagged far behind its rivals in worldwide sponsorship and commercial revenues.

“We thought we could significantly boost revenues and work toward getting to a level playing field with Manchester United,” he said.

Henry felt confident about turning Liverpool around because he trusted his own decision-making process. The other Premier League owners were mostly impatient and undisciplined. But Henry would operate with the same deliberate, analytical approach he had always relied on.

For once, it turned out Henry had made a small miscalculation. What he would soon discover—to his not inconsiderable cost—is there are few benefits to be gained from a rational approach if you aren’t operating in a rational environment. And whatever else has been said about English soccer over the years, no one has ever accused it of that. Before long, Henry realized his error. The Premier League was a madhouse.

Within days of acquiring Liverpool, he was accused of orchestrating an “epic swindle” by former owner Tom Hicks, who filed a claim for £1 billion in damages in a Dallas court.

Those claims were summarily dismissed, but it wasn’t long before Henry found himself battling a controversy that was harder to shake off. In a high-profile clash against Manchester United in 2011, Liverpool’s star forward, Luis Suarez, racially abused United defender Patrice Evra.

Back in Boston, Henry watched events unfold with a mixture of disbelief and dismay. He had seen some deeply strange things in his time at the Red Sox. He had employed Manny Ramirez for seven years. But nothing in his time in baseball had prepared him to deal with this sort of unholy mess.

On the field, things were proving just as delicate to navigate. Henry’s championship Red Sox teams were built on identifying market inefficiencies. But two years into Henry’s ownership, Liverpool’s efforts to unearth similar inefficiencies in the Premier League were beginning to look like an expensive mistake.

In the two years following FSG’s takeover, Liverpool had embarked on a $170 million spending spree that amounted to a pricey bet on their data-driven approach. The strategy behind the moves seemed clear, if a little simplistic. One year after finishing sixth in the Premier League partly because of scoring just 59 goals in 38 games, Liverpool had recruited some of the most prolific creators of chances in English soccer. The club’s internal data revealed that three of its new signings had been ranked in the top eight in chances created the season before.

The Red Sox had won games by getting runners on base. Now Liverpool was going to try to win games by creating shots on goal.

It all sounded good in theory. Tom Werner even invoked Theo Epstein’s name when praising Liverpool’s transfer dealings that summer. “There is no question that Damien Comolli is cut from the same cloth as Theo,” Werner said.

But within a few months, it became clear that Liverpool’s fancy algorithms needed some work. The club’s mission to create more scoring chances ended with Liverpool’s tying the record for the lowest number of league goals in their history. At the end of the season, Comolli was fired and followed Dalglish out the door.

“He did not really turn out to be someone who believed in the Moneyball-type of approach,” Henry recalled.

What Henry was starting to understand was that the laws that govern U.S. sports—or the worlds of business, finance, or basic math, for that matter—frequently don’t apply to English soccer. And even those that do weren’t applied frequently enough for Henry’s liking. Take player contracts. When Liverpool acquired Suarez, he signed a five-year contract, and Liverpool were expected to pay him for the duration of that contract regardless of injury, loss of form, or a sudden proclivity for biting opponents. But if Suarez decided he wanted to move on before that five-year contract expired, he was basically free to do so. Liverpool would receive a fee, of course. But in the world of soccer, contract law went out the window when a player—or his agent—decided it was time to go. No club could hold a player who wished to leave for long. They would eventually go. They always did.

Henry didn’t think much of this arrangement. When Suarez decided it was time to move in the summer of 2013, his preferred destination was Arsenal. Liverpool didn’t want to lose Suarez—especially not to a Premier League rival—but there was one minor catch. His contract contained a release clause that stipulated he was free to leave if any club bid more than £40 million. Which made it rather awkward when Arsenal submitted an offer for Suarez in July for exactly £40,000,001.

By the terms of his contract, Suarez was free to leave Anfield. But, back then, Henry was still convinced he could change the way these games were played. So he took a leaf out of the players’ manual.

“What we’ve found is that contracts don’t seem to mean a lot in England—actually, in world football,” Henry later explained. “Since apparently these contracts don’t seem to hold, we took the position that we’re just not selling.”

The audacious move infuriated Arsenal and delighted Liverpool’s fans. When Henry tweeted about the developments later that day—“What do you think they’re smoking over there at Emirates?”—it infuriated Arsenal and delighted Liverpool’s fan even more.

But if Henry hoped his hard line would help to usher in the sort of binding contracts that exist in U.S. sports, he would be disappointed. His stance toward Suarez—and later toward the Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho—succeeded in keeping them at Anfield, but only temporarily. Both ended up joining Barcelona.

As he approached the end of his first decade in English soccer, Henry had long given up searching for Moneyball bargains. He had a new plan to turn Liverpool into title contender, and this one involved mountains of cold, hard cash.

Months after signing Salah, Henry broke the club’s transfer record by spending $90 million on defender Virgil van Dijk. He followed that the following summer by enacting its plan to win immediately and pulled the trigger on $211 million worth of transfers, more than any other club in England. That included nearly $70 million for a 23-year-old from Guinea named Naby Keita and $72 million for Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson Becker, then a world record for the position.

So far, Henry’s new tack appears to be working. Liverpool sits in first and is the last remaining undefeated club in the Premier League this season after Manchester City's loss to Chelsea. It only took Henry eight years to realize that cracking English soccer was a little bit trickier to than solving Major League Baseball.

“I don’t believe you can find a more challenging enterprise,” Henry said, “than to try to win in English football.”

Thanks for posting this Soxfan, I really enjoyed reading it.
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Offline Al 666

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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #20 on: December 23, 2018, 08:34:04 PM »
Without doubt Klopp is the masterstroke, but important work such as identifying and acquiring the right transfer targets is also a very important part (Bobby and Mo were not Klopp selections, but obviously he had enough respect for edwards etc to agree to Mo.) Also, the stabilisation of the club and delaying sacking Rogers till Klopp was available was down to FSG. It's a wonderful team behind the team.

It is the clarity of thought and the overall vision that matters though.

Firmino only kicked on after Klopp had identified how to get the best out of him. Likewise with Salah the required qualities were spelled out by Klopp and then when they came up with Salah the recruitment team were told to go away and make sure Salah had the physicality to cope with the Premier league.

Our success has come about for me because we have started doing the opposite of what FSG wanted. They wanted collegiate responsibility and decision making to be broken down so that no single individual had to much power. That thinking led to paralysis by analysis and crazy acquisitions like Carroll and Suarez in the same window or Firmino and Benteke.

That isn't to say that FSG haven't done a really good job on the business side of the Club and have had the humility to change the way we operated and brought in Klopp who has truly transformed the Club.
One thing does need to be said: in the post-Benitez era, there was media-led clamour (but also some politicking going on at the club) to make the club more English; the idea being that the club had lost the very essence of what it means to be ‘Liverpool’. Guillem Ballague 18/11/10

Offline Giono

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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #21 on: December 23, 2018, 08:53:34 PM »
It is the clarity of thought and the overall vision that matters though.

Firmino only kicked on after Klopp had identified how to get the best out of him. Likewise with Salah the required qualities were spelled out by Klopp and then when they came up with Salah the recruitment team were told to go away and make sure Salah had the physicality to cope with the Premier league.

Our success has come about for me because we have started doing the opposite of what FSG wanted. They wanted collegiate responsibility and decision making to be broken down so that no single individual had to much power. That thinking led to paralysis by analysis and crazy acquisitions like Carroll and Suarez in the same window or Firmino and Benteke.

That isn't to say that FSG haven't done a really good job on the business side of the Club and have had the humility to change the way we operated and brought in Klopp who has truly transformed the Club.

Carroll and Suarez was before the comittee and was a quick response to losing Torres early in their ownership. Suarez was being worked on for a while. Kenny was a big reason why we got in Carroll. FSG got stung by that, so they hired a young manager to work with a team of recruitment people. Remember, Comolli got fired too. They blamed him for not doing better Quality Control of the buys Kenny wanted. That is when they went back to the drawing board and came up with the comitte. That comitte was not only to help quality control, but it also gave their man in Liverpool input and frontline recruitment experience.

They are now profiting from Klopp as an experienced manager with a plan. But Klopp is also profitting from having a recruitment team with a settled structure and metrics. And Klopp is profitting from having ownership that now better understands the sport and the project and feels free to greenlight world record fees for players.
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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #22 on: December 23, 2018, 09:28:11 PM »
One thing the article didn't mention is how we are funding the transformation. I suppose we could have bought players like Mane,Firmino, Allinson, VVD, Salah, Keita, Fabinho(and tied them down with big money contracts) previously but didn't because of the obvious cost. Our commercial operations have obviously expanded and we are starting to earn CL prize money but we have spent a lot. I am not suggesting that we are doing a Leeds but we have got to be very successful on and off the pitch to fund those signings.

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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #23 on: December 23, 2018, 09:37:47 PM »
One thing the article didn't mention is how we are funding the transformation. I suppose we could have bought players like Mane,Firmino, Allinson, VVD, Salah, Keita, Fabinho(and tied them down with big money contracts) previously but didn't because of the obvious cost. Our commercial operations have obviously expanded and we are starting to earn CL prize money but we have spent a lot. I am not suggesting that we are doing a Leeds but we have got to be very successful on and off the pitch to fund those signings.

Commercial side and the tv revenues help fund the wage bill, but we also sold Coutinho Suarez sterling for more than 250m. That was an absolute boon. They’ve spent it spectacularly well with the recruitment and training programme in place.

They’re building an institution and a system which should be strong enough no matter who comes and goes in it in the future.
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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #24 on: December 23, 2018, 10:04:40 PM »
Commercial side and the tv revenues help fund the wage bill, but we also sold Coutinho Suarez sterling for more than 250m. That was an absolute boon. They’ve spent it spectacularly well with the recruitment and training programme in place.

They’re building an institution and a system which should be strong enough no matter who comes and goes in it in the future.

We have always been an institution and we have always had fantastic revenues. When FSG bought us we were 7th in the Deloitte Money League. We have always been one of the richest teams in the World. We just lowered the bar as fans and accepted mediocrity.

The biggest sea change though has been Klopp. You mention the Club selling Coutinho, Suarez and Sterling but you don't mention how the funds were spent. Frankly we pissed the Suarez and Sterling money up the wall.

Compare selling Suarez and replacing him Balotelli and Lambert or selling Sterling and buying Benteke and Firmino with selling Coutinho and targeting the areas we needed to improve and bringing in Alisson and Virgil.

The recruitment only changed with the appointment of Klopp.
One thing does need to be said: in the post-Benitez era, there was media-led clamour (but also some politicking going on at the club) to make the club more English; the idea being that the club had lost the very essence of what it means to be ‘Liverpool’. Guillem Ballague 18/11/10

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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #25 on: December 23, 2018, 10:24:41 PM »
One thing the article didn't mention is how we are funding the transformation. I suppose we could have bought players like Mane,Firmino, Allinson, VVD, Salah, Keita, Fabinho(and tied them down with big money contracts) previously but didn't because of the obvious cost. Our commercial operations have obviously expanded and we are starting to earn CL prize money but we have spent a lot. I am not suggesting that we are doing a Leeds but we have got to be very successful on and off the pitch to fund those signings.

Coutinho’s sale pretty much funded VVD and Alisson. The rest of the signings aren’t extravagant considering our low net transfer spend in the previous seasons.
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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #26 on: December 23, 2018, 10:38:18 PM »
Quote
Two sides to football. Player recruitment and coaching. IMO amateur armchair opinion  ;D I think we have got an excellent coach, but our player recruitment is poor.

In the 70's and 80's, we got both spot on. Geoff Twentyman had one of the best eyes for a player in Britain, and its because knew what Bill, Bob, Joe and Kenny wanted. He looked for players with at a technically point of view, could play with both feet, pass and move and that ect ... and how they were as a person. We only wanted honest grafters who would run through brick walls for the squad, hence why we mainly bought northerners.  ;) He knew what players we wanted and what made a great player and the potential for them to excellent. He knew what makes a player tick the Liverpool way. We signed 3/4 players and our coaches would add extra 25% that would make that player complete.

This was three decades ago and it still applies today. Pailsey and Shanks trusted Twentyman to bring the right players in, and he trusted them to coach these players to their potential. Do we have this trust, this chemistry behind closed doors? This committee sucks because it doesn't work together, mix match of philosophies. Quicker we bin it off, the better.

I posted this after we got battered 4-1 back in 2015 by Arsenal. About time we got back to basics and fucked off being pretentious. It doesn't work. Liverpool Football club dominated European football 40 years ago, we don't need some stat pusher or shiny new toy on how to tell us how to play football. It's a simple game made complicated by idiots. Pass and move. Use both feet, head up when on the ball, think three steps ahead ect... It's not complicated. You may say, "stop talking shite, thats common sense" but apply them cliques to our signings over the years. We've bought some shite over the years for big money too. Master the simple stuff, blended with a sound personality and it wins you stuff. We lost that in the 1990s, we lost our DNA and before you know it you are against a Manchester United which was in a different league to us financially. The sad thing is, Ferguson took what we did and adapted it to the Sky Era and dominated wiht that fomula.   

You only have to look at United now under Woodward, he doesn't have a fucking clue. His tenor has been been very poor and reminds me of us under Ayre. Great for the accountants of the world and getting sponsors through the door, but piss poor at the footballing side.

Sometimes all it takes is for a strong manager to come in who is ahead of the curve, Shanks / Ferguson / Klopp / Mourinho before he losts his marbles to tell the moneymen to fuck off and sign cheques and leave the football to them.

Since we've had Klopp, and since that post from 2015, the football club has united behind one way of thinking, one common goal. Players that fit the system and beliefs of the team. Technical players, players that are individually very good but become excellent within the team. Also it helps we've got money now.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2018, 10:42:46 PM by OOS »
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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #27 on: December 23, 2018, 10:40:14 PM »
We have always been an institution and we have always had fantastic revenues. When FSG bought us we were 7th in the Deloitte Money League. We have always been one of the richest teams in the World. We just lowered the bar as fans and accepted mediocrity.

The biggest sea change though has been Klopp. You mention the Club selling Coutinho, Suarez and Sterling but you don't mention how the funds were spent. Frankly we pissed the Suarez and Sterling money up the wall.

Compare selling Suarez and replacing him Balotelli and Lambert or selling Sterling and buying Benteke and Firmino with selling Coutinho and targeting the areas we needed to improve and bringing in Alisson and Virgil.

The recruitment only changed with the appointment of Klopp.

"“At a football club, there’s a holy trinity – the players, the manager and the supporters. Directors don’t come into it. They are only there to sign the cheques”

The footballing men are back in control again.
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Offline Al 666

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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #28 on: December 23, 2018, 10:59:13 PM »
"“At a football club, there’s a holy trinity – the players, the manager and the supporters. Directors don’t come into it. They are only there to sign the cheques”

The footballing men are back in control again.

The turning point for me was Klopp's refusal to accept anyone but Virgil. Football is a results based industry and we had injury prone centre backs. It would of been so easy for Klopp to do the safe thing and accept the 2nd or 3rd option.

For me this season was forged in Blackpool and not Boston.
One thing does need to be said: in the post-Benitez era, there was media-led clamour (but also some politicking going on at the club) to make the club more English; the idea being that the club had lost the very essence of what it means to be ‘Liverpool’. Guillem Ballague 18/11/10

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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #29 on: December 23, 2018, 11:20:43 PM »
The turning point for me was Klopp's refusal to accept anyone but Virgil. Football is a results based industry and we had injury prone centre backs. It would of been so easy for Klopp to do the safe thing and accept the 2nd or 3rd option.

For me this season was forged in Blackpool and not Boston.

To think, some people on here were genuinely suggesting Jonny Evans as an alternative when it became apparent we couldn’t sign Van Dijk that summer.
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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #30 on: December 23, 2018, 11:31:55 PM »
To think, some people on here were genuinely suggesting Jonny Evans as an alternative when it became apparent we couldn’t sign Van Dijk that summer.

I know mate but when you look back at Markovic, Alberto, llori, Balotelli, Mignolet and Lambert then Evans would of fitted right in.

Some people seem to be alarmed that a club that is European royalty and one of the richest on the planet is pushing the boat out and signing top players.
One thing does need to be said: in the post-Benitez era, there was media-led clamour (but also some politicking going on at the club) to make the club more English; the idea being that the club had lost the very essence of what it means to be ‘Liverpool’. Guillem Ballague 18/11/10

Offline Mr_Shane

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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #31 on: December 24, 2018, 12:14:38 AM »
To think what would have had happened if Man City had got Virgil. No one would ever win the title in the forseeable future again. But that mad persuasive german was key and FSG had wanted no one else except him

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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #32 on: December 24, 2018, 12:16:44 AM »
Misses one extraordinarily huge part of the jigsaw. A certain German genius.

This.

I mean who in their right minds would have expected Robertson, Oxlade Chamberlain and Shaqiri to turn into stars of the highest performances?

Add that to big money signings like VVD, Alisson and Salah which look so risky but look like bargains, then you really have to come down to the fact that they are playing this way down to the system implemented by Klopp.

Offline mattD

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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #33 on: December 24, 2018, 12:29:50 AM »
I posted this after we got battered 4-1 back in 2015 by Arsenal. About time we got back to basics and fucked off being pretentious. It doesn't work. Liverpool Football club dominated European football 40 years ago, we don't need some stat pusher or shiny new toy on how to tell us how to play football. It's a simple game made complicated by idiots. Pass and move. Use both feet, head up when on the ball, think three steps ahead ect... It's not complicated. You may say, "stop talking shite, thats common sense" but apply them cliques to our signings over the years. We've bought some shite over the years for big money too. Master the simple stuff, blended with a sound personality and it wins you stuff.

If Geoff Twentymen was operating in today’s world with old methods, he would sink without a trace. There has to be a balance of both - good judgement and an eye for a good player of course but there is no doubt that sophisticated statistics play a major part in player recruitment too.

I wouldn’t be surprised if moneyball played a major part in the recruitment of Andy Robertson but I also believe good old fashioned sound judgement and intuition played its part with Klopp being able to mentally envisage how he’d be perfect in his system.

Rewind back to Rodgers, and it’s surely the case there was ill informed opinions from both manager and scouts. The scouts with a scattergun approach focusing on individual stats with no consideration as to how they’d fit a system, and Rodgers with purchases that quite frankly lacked ambition.

Everything seems to be synchronised at this time thank god.

Offline Al 666

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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #34 on: December 24, 2018, 12:58:52 AM »
If Geoff Twentymen was operating in today’s world with old methods, he would sink without a trace. There has to be a balance of both - good judgement and an eye for a good player of course but there is no doubt that sophisticated statistics play a major part in player recruitment too.

I wouldn’t be surprised if moneyball played a major part in the recruitment of Andy Robertson but I also believe good old fashioned sound judgement and intuition played its part with Klopp being able to mentally envisage how he’d be perfect in his system.

Rewind back to Rodgers, and it’s surely the case there was ill informed opinions from both manager and scouts. The scouts with a scattergun approach focusing on individual stats with no consideration as to how they’d fit a system, and Rodgers with purchases that quite frankly lacked ambition.

Everything seems to be synchronised at this time thank god.

This is the bit that really pisses me off. The assumption that Twentyman didn't use statistics.

The likes off Twentyman and Paisley were at the forefront of Sports science. What pissed people off the analysis over football judgement. The game is far too nuanced to reduce it to stats.

You have the football judgement and then back that up with stats.
One thing does need to be said: in the post-Benitez era, there was media-led clamour (but also some politicking going on at the club) to make the club more English; the idea being that the club had lost the very essence of what it means to be ‘Liverpool’. Guillem Ballague 18/11/10

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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #35 on: December 24, 2018, 01:03:05 AM »
Really I just think it took them a while to figure out Edwards was the guy that got it. That best knew how to apply their recruitment strategy and talent identification to football. Find players who are undervalued at other clubs compare to how they'd be valued playing in a Klopp side. To me Oxelade-Chamberlain is the most clear example. Not rated that highly at Arsenal because what he is good at on a football pitch is at odds to the values that their current manager requires. However, put him a Klopp team and his best attributes shine and are used fully. Then you trade your way up until you maximise your utility/potential for a position (ie. break the bank for VvD because he's one of the best in the world in his position, so you no longer need to worry too much about looking for value and trading up).

I think that's vaguely it. I think it's obviously frustrating to some people that we can't just buy the VvD equivalent for every position. But that's unrealistic and we can't compete with the Citys/Barcas in that regard. Had to be this way.

Offline Al 666

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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #36 on: December 24, 2018, 01:08:32 AM »
Really I just think it took them a while to figure out Edwards was the guy that got it. That best knew how to apply their recruitment strategy and talent identification to football. Find players who are undervalued at other clubs compare to how they'd be valued playing in a Klopp side. To me Oxelade-Chamberlain is the most clear example. Not rated that highly at Arsenal because what he is good at on a football pitch is at odds to the values that their current manager requires. However, put him a Klopp team and his best attributes shine and are used fully. Then you trade your way up until you maximise your utility/potential for a position (ie. break the bank for VvD because he's one of the best in the world in his position, so you no longer need to worry too much about looking for value and trading up).

I think that's vaguely it. I think it's obviously frustrating to some people that we can't just buy the VvD equivalent for every position. But that's unrealistic and we can't compete with the Citys/Barcas in that regard. Had to be this way.

Edwards is the same though.

Judge him pre Klopp and post Klopp and there is a clear difference.
One thing does need to be said: in the post-Benitez era, there was media-led clamour (but also some politicking going on at the club) to make the club more English; the idea being that the club had lost the very essence of what it means to be ‘Liverpool’. Guillem Ballague 18/11/10

Offline Djimi Smicer34

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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #37 on: December 24, 2018, 01:27:14 AM »
They made mistakes, learned from them and the club has benefitted hugely as a result.

Klopp/Edwards/Gordon are all on the same page, everyone from the ownership down is pulling in one direction and we're in a position where we'll improve and develop further both on and off the pitch.

The club is operating as cohesively as I've seen it in my lifetime; long may it continue.

Offline Hymer Red

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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #38 on: December 24, 2018, 01:32:50 AM »
To win the Premiere League once you need quality and a lot of luck see Leicester. To win or challenge for it regularly you need quality, from the owner right down through every position. You also need cash - lots of it see City. Cash without the quality is not enough see United. They cant seem to get the football side right because they dont have much quality in key positions with Woodward and now several managers. Add to that the owners seem to just want to get their earnings out.

Thankfully Liverpools owners can now see what is required. The non football appointments have been spot on and they are doing a great job ramping up the commercial arm of the club and increasing revenue. They have hired an outstanding manager and coaches who in turn have signed some brilliant players and best of all the club is in a position financially to spend the money that is required to keep it that way.

Its all a bit like Leeds and Forest now between us and City. Slogging it out over the season toe to toe waiting for the other team to blink. Spurs Chelsea and Arsenal are not far behind but United have an awful lot of work to do.

This Klopp fella, hes not bad is he?

Offline rscanderlech

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Re: John Henry & Liverpool's Evolution From Moneyball to Big-Spending Approach
« Reply #39 on: December 24, 2018, 02:08:39 AM »
The article isn't that good. It doesn't go into detail on what Liverpool are doing differently now, except that they are paying big transfer fees. It misses out the bit where we have, I think, 4 PhDs in mathematics/physics running data analytics for the club--which includes scouting. They are paying big fees but somehow all of the players we sign seem to double in value within a year: Mane, Salah, Robertson, Van Dijk, Fabinho very soon... So you might say that it's still 'moneyball', but for a club that's already rich.