Of course, there is nothing that Henry, Tom Werner or anyone else at FSG can do about the impact of a global pandemic on attendances at sporting events, even as their own club suffer more than most. But plenty they could do to stop their all-conquering side from going stale.
The obvious answer to why Liverpool have not seriously outlayed in recruitment this year nor last year is financial restraints. This is a club deeply feeling the impact of Covid-19, without an entire Gulf state to fund them, without ticket income, while having to keep their current stars happy in their contracts.
Klopp took a veiled dig at Manchester City and Chelsea as the 2020/21 season began, saying: “For some clubs it seems less important how uncertain the future is. Owned by countries, owned by oligarchs, that’s the truth. We are a different kind of club.”
But this is slightly disingenuous, as John W Henry is hardly poor. His net worth has grown during his ownership of Liverpool to an estimated $2.8 billion in 2020. Some fans may begin to ask why some of that cannot be invested into the club (even in a cold, prudent light it would at least act to protect his investment and ensure Liverpool don’t get caught by the Premier League’s chasing pack).
Liverpool supporters may not like what they see when they look at the USA and the dire situation in which the FSG-owned baseball team, the Boston Red Sox, find themselves. World Series Champions in 2018, the owners infuriated fans by trading star player Mookie Betts in February – the equivalent of LFC selling Alexander-Arnold – in order to cut costs. The baseball giants struggled embarrassingly in the 2020 season, finishing bottom of their division.
It’s too simplistic to draw a direct line between FSG’s troubled ownership of the Red Sox and Liverpool. Yet the question remains: are finances really so tight at one of the world’s biggest, most successful and most marketable football clubs that they can’t afford to match Chelsea’s fee for Werner? A deal that, after the transfer of Kai Havertz, is only the second-biggest outlay the London club have made on a German international this year. It seems almost shocking that Liverpool appear, from the outside, so unwilling or unable to match the spending power of their rivals.
The beauty of football is that the proof will eventually come on the pitch. Some Liverpool fans will have breathed a sigh of relief when the October transfer deadline passed and Mane and Salah were still at the club. But is looking at a line-up that has only been slightly altered in two years – going on three – really a recipe for success for the future?