Henry guarded over Liverpool title chances27/08/2011 - 09:59:43
Liverpool owner John W Henry has admitted the club are “years behind” their rivals and it is too soon to think about a challenge for the Barclays Premier League title as they focus on a top-four finish.
Optimism is high amongst Reds fans at the start of the first full season of Kenny Dalglish’s second spell in charge, and many have pointed to their form over the second half of last season to suggest they could be outsiders for the title.
But Henry is taking a more cautious approach, saying that this is a building season as he expects Manchester United to be the team to beat.
“Manchester United has done an incredible job of building a young, talented, deep squad,” he told the Daily Telegraph.
“I watched a number of their pre-season matches and they seemed in top form even then. We’ve just begun to build and are years behind them so we don’t expect this to be our year to win the Premier League.
“Manchester City seem to have unlimited spending restraint and want all-star quality at each position. That will be hard to beat. This year our goal is to get back to the Champions League.
“But it won’t be at all easy and no one is expecting that, as there are six big clubs – among the best in Europe – fighting for four spots.”
Henry, schooled in the American sporting system of player trades as an owner of the Boston Red Sox, admits football’s transfer system came as a “shock” to him but says he is getting used to it.
Liverpool have raised eyebrows since Henry arrived with big money deals to bring in the likes of Luis Suarez, Andy Carroll and Jordan Henderson, but Henry rejects the idea they have overspent, particularly on the £35mn Carroll and £20m Henderson.
“Everyone seemed to think that Liverpool was over-valuing British players this summer,” he said.
“But when the Premier League has the whole world to choose players from and there is a substantial homegrown rule, British players are going to be highly valued.
“Look at the prices paid this year for (Connor) Wickham and (Alex) Chamberlain. At Liverpool we have purchased each player for a different reason and are headed in a different direction.”
Henry criticised the previous Anfield regime under Tom Hicks and George Gillett, saying the pair left Liverpool in a hole it will take time to dig out of.
“For a number of years players of quality were being sold and players of lesser quality were being purchased,” he said.
��The club wasn’t being run by people with the kind of discipline it takes to be successful over the long term.
“It’s odd to be criticised by some who think we are overspending. The worry seemed to be that we wouldn’t spend.
“But we’ve been consistent, we intend to strengthen this club annually but that doesn’t mean we will deficit spend. It’s up to us to strengthen revenues. Only then will we be strong enough to compete in Europe.”
Henry hopes UEFA’s new financial fair play rules will help Liverpool catch up more quickly, but only if they are properly enforced.
Henry has already questioned City’s naming rights deal, worth a reported £300m, and wants reassurances that clubs will not be able to circumvent the rules.
“The question remains as to how serious UEFA is regarding this,” he said.
“It appears that there are a couple of large English clubs that are sending a strong message that they aren’t taking them seriously, yet large clubs in Italy are.
“Maybe it’s necessary for other associations to act. I believe the Football League has adopted these protocols. They have to be congratulated on that.”
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