Liverpool’s Summer of Love

Three months ago, I wrote that Liverpool faced a bleak off-season. Arrogant owners had plunged the club into obscene levels of debt, while bragging how they would reap record profits from its sale. The team finished a dismal seventh, ending another season where the trophy case remained dusty and unopened.  And Liverpool’s major stars — Gerrard, Torres and Mascherano — all appeared headed for the door.

Oh, what a difference three months has made.  Instead of panic, there has been a steely determination to weather the storm.  Roy Hodgson — a candidate by default, some would say — was hired to manage the team, if only for a little while. But instead of being a lame-duck leader, Hodgson started manning the phones.  He convinced Joe Cole to leave the safe confines of London… and then everything seemed to fall into place.

The commitment of Steven Gerrard to the club was an important step. Never mind the cynics who said he was unwanted abroad. The pledge showed that Liverpool’s captain — and heart and soul — believes there is a future on Merseyside.  But there was still a problem of finances.

Enter Kenny Huang.  It seems the Chinese businessman doesn’t see a club in turmoil, he sees a massive opportunity. Huang remembers that Liverpool is still the most successful English club in history… indeed, one of the most successful in the world.  He saw the survey that shows Fernando Torres shirts sold more units worldwide than any other Premier League player.  He knows owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett are mucking about… and thinks he can do something about it.

Huang is being aggressive. The billionaire claims that the club’s debt is so massive, it’s made shares virtually worthless. If he successfully buys that debt from the bank, it’s curtains for Hicks and Gillett.  Good riddance.

Torres has said all along that the club needs new investment, and implied that new owners would be required to get him to stay.  Today, he committed his future to the club… another tremendous psychological boost.  Huang has promised to bring in big players and start in on a new stadium — promises heard from the current owners that ended up ringing hollow. But the rapidly dwindling millions of Hicks and Gillett are drops in the bucket when compared to Huang’s billions.

They say money can’t buy happiness. I think the Anfield faithful beg to differ.

Brent Lanthier

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