Jose Mourinho’s latest comments show just how far Liverpool have progressed under the leadership of Fenway Sports Group.
Liverpool face Manchester United on Sunday afternoon and it’s safe to say that the Reds won’t be looking at their counterparts in envy as they have done for so many decades.
Whilst Man United have taken a fall from grace from the days under Sir Alex Ferguson, Liverpool have been progressing – not only on the pitch but off it too.
In recent years, the club has taken the right steps to ensure it competes on the highest level possible – including the hiring of Jurgen Klopp – whilst United have looked in disarray.
The last time Liverpool looked this superior to United was in the 1980s, when Frankie Goes to Hollywood were still releasing hits such as ‘Relax’ and ‘The Power of Love’.
The Reds currently sit 16 points ahead of their arch rivals, and speaking ahead of the fixture, Mourinho commended Klopp’s side.
“It is not just about the money they spend in the summer, it’s about many things,” he said.
“It’s not just about spending money and reinforcing the squad, a football team is more than that, a football team is not just about spending the money.
“A football team is like a house, too, a house is not just about buying the furniture.
“You have to do work in the house and when the house is ready, then you buy the furniture, you spend money on the best possible furniture and then you are ready to live in an amazing house.”
Whilst his comments may come as a dig at his current bosses, including Ed Woodward, it highlights just how far the Reds have come in a short space of time.
Go back a decade ago, and there would be no doubt that these comments were much more likely to come from a Liverpool manager, rather than one from down the M62.
Indeed, former Reds boss Rafa Benitez was known for his thinly-veiled digs at the running of the club during his days under George Gillett and Tom Hicks.
Liverpool’s overall structure and ‘having their house in order’ is a testament to how they have progressed under the leadership of Fenway Sports Group.
How we got here…
When the Reds’ current owners took over from fellow Americans Gillett and Hicks, many would have been forgiven for being apprehensive about what their ownership would mean.
The club had been on the market for quite some time, with prospective buyers from Dubai and China all tabling offers for English football’s most decorated club.
Whilst the prolific history and prestige of the club was still revered, the truth was it had been lagging behind for years – not only on the pitch but off it too.
Under previous owner David Moores, who led the club as chairman from 1991 to 2007, Liverpool had stagnated.
Their rivals were picking up trophies year in year out, whilst building their finances and taking advantage of the riches the Premier League had to offer.
Moores was increasingly unable to finance the club and sought external investment to help Liverpool grow. In 2004, he made clear that he was looking for offers. However, it took until 2007 to find a successor.
Gillett and Hicks reached a deal with the board, believed to be in the region of £435 million. £220m to buy out the existing shareholders (and take on £44.8m in debt) as well as £215m earmarked for a much-needed new stadium at Stanley Park.
The Reds had come off two Champions League final appearances under Rafa Benitez, including the famous win at Istanbul, and their future looked to be in safe hands, with promises of “a spade in the ground within 60 days” for their new stadium.
However, the two American owners and chairman Rick Parry instead led the club into the disarray.
For all their promising talk, they added an unsurmountable level of debt to the club, refused to fund needed purchases, focusing instead on taking money out of the club.
The kicker, however, was there was no new stadium to come. Plans for a brand new stadium at Stanley Park cost the club £50million, despite never coming to fruition.
In 2010, Liverpool found themselves on the verge of administration, only for Fenway Sports Group (then known as New England Sports Ventures), to buy the club in the eleventh hour after a long legal battle with the owners.
“An epic swindle!”, Gillet and Hicks exclaimed. But indeed, it was true that the real swindle was their leadership and leeching of the club.
FSG’s owner, John Henry, insisted that they would “under-promise but over-deliver”, in stark contrast to their previous owners.
Whilst they took some time to get used to their surroundings – eight years later, they have proved that they are responsible custodians of the club.
They have handled several situations with the utmost of understanding, not just for what supporters wish, but also what is best for the club.