Early Doors

An open letter to John W Henry

Early Doors

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Dear John,

Thanks for your letter of correspondence dated September 3. Early Doors originally thought it was a belated letter of acceptance to Pepe Reina's Goalkeeping Masterclass, two years after ED's application. (By the way, just bin that letter if you stumble across it in the Melwood post room).

Firstly, a hearty well done on actually being so forthcoming in your communication with supporters. People may scoff at the idea of an open letter but it was more enlightening regarding your long-term plans for a historic and vital social institution than anything Roman Abramovich has offered since taking over Chelsea in 2003, while in its responsiveness to the concerns of supporters it trumped anything attempted by the reclusive Glazers at Manchester United, or Silent Stan Kroenke at Arsenal.

The passage where you admit that problems have been "compounded by our own mistakes in a difficult first two years of ownership" demonstrated a level of self-awareness and humility that is in short supply in this sport of ours, where some major club officials blame mystery hackers for sending offensive emails to cancer sufferers, while other owners erect monuments to Michael Jackson before telling lifelong fans to "go to Chelsea."

While other club owners seek to brief behind the scenes, sneakily shifting blame onto others through their conduits in the press, it was genuinely an admirable move to communicate directly with supporters, so bravo for that.

Furthermore, the majority of what you outlined, in terms of sustainability and sensible approaches to spending, long-term goals usurping short-term gain, backing your new manager and adhering to UEFA's Financial Fair Play regulations made eminent sense. Getting such a clear statement of intent from the maniacally grinning Tom Hicks and George Gillett may have proved more difficult.

The problem, though, is that all those good intentions ultimately count for little if the team struggles on the pitch, and to be honest the glimpse you gave supporters into events on transfer deadline day at Anfield left a little to be desired. Most notably, there wasn't a decent enough explanation of how the deadline was allowed to pass without a half-decent goalscorer joining the club, while Andy Carroll, arguably just about a half-decent goalscorer, was allowed to leave on loan.

The fans have not been satisfied by coded messages about "expensive, short-term quick fixes that will only contribute for a couple of years", because even at £6 million Clint Dempsey wasn't horribly expensive, not when a 2-0 defeat to Arsenal brings into sharp relief the lack of attacking options Liverpool now have. It was a pretty big mistake, but hey, you probably know that already.

But because ED feels you have been a bit hard done by in the grand scheme of things, it has cracked out its own battered laptop and copy of Word 97 to offer you some sage words of advice in these troubled times...

First things first. John, reports in the papers on Tuesday morning suggest you and Brendan Rodgers have decided against signing Michael Owen. As a column that relies heavily on taking cheap shots at rubbish footballers and underperforming clubs, this is very bad news: it could have been ED's perfect storm.

It seems Rodgers listened to your explanation of how you didn't want to throw money after short-term fixes and subsequently decided not to recruit a Manchester United has-been whose arrival would further polarise an already frustrated and divided supporter base.

Still, if Luis Suarez gets injured or, you know, gets himself suspended for ages or something, you'll still be pretty much screwed. So with that in mind, and given the fact your current recruitment team appear to be struggling to actually get their dealings done in the transfer market, ED thought it would forward on a short list of alternative candidates.

Alessandro Del Piero: This suggestion is actually serious. The Juventus legend is on a free after divorcing the Old Lady in the summer and hasn't actually signed for Sydney FC yet, contrary to reports. Having stayed with Juve during their spell in Serie A he is used to dragging fallen giants through troubled times, plus he is one of the coolest footballers of the past 20 years. This one's a no-brainer, and the PR bump would be significant.

Didier Drogba: The current favourite of the press, who appear to have lost their copy of FIFA's rule book that states a free agent can only be signed if they are a free agent when the transfer window closes. Drogba, erm, wasn't, and indeed remains employed by Shanghai Shenhua. Though this deal is literally impossible, he still keeps getting linked in the papers, so who is ED to argue? Maybe if you ask Uncle Sepp nicely, he might help you out. Try not to wince at his £250,000 a week wages, though.

Robbie Fowler: This was genuinely proposed as a potential solution by one national journalist yesterday. It's quite frankly farcical, but let's go with it for now. He might be 37, with his most recent playing experience coming with Thai powerhouses Muangthong United, but there's no doubt he has passion for the club he loves. Plus, not even Jesus had a third coming. Imagine having a striker who is officially better than Jesus...

Emile Heskey: Another man who inspires religious fervour. There are global cults dedicated to this goalscoring colossus, a man who has reduced experienced defenders to quivering wrecks for near enough 15 years now. No mortal can resist him. No man can tame him. Well, apart from Alex McLeish, who tried to turn one of the finest strikers of this or any other generation into a midfielder. Seriously, please bring Heskey back to the club, just for the lols if nothing else.

Well, there are some ideas for you to be getting on with. Hopefully the next open letter you will be penning will be to welcome one of the above to the club. Fingers crossed it's big Emile.

All the best,


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COMING UP: Hot or Not takes a sideways look at the Premier League weekend before the Whistleblower examines a controversial moment at lunch. Paul Parker also weighs in with his latest blog while James Horncastle brings us an update from Serie A. Oh, and there's some Johnstone's Paint Trophy action tonight as well.

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