Reds owners earn Dalglish praise
Saturday marks the first anniversary of the United States-based group's purchase of the club, thereby ending the dysfunctional reign of Tom Hicks and George Gillett. FSG, led by principal owner John Henry and Tom Werner, who was installed as club chairman last year, have impressed many with the way they have conducted their business in the intervening 12 months. Significant money for transfers has been provided, they have consulted with fans and have brought an air of stability to the club which was threatened with administration before their late intervention. In January they placed their faith in Dalglish, who had last managed at Liverpool more than 20 years ago, when Roy Hodgson's short spell in charge unravelled more swiftly than expected. And understandably the Scot, who was given a three-year contract in May, was keen to praise the Americans for their first 12 months in charge. "The greatest compliment I can pay to them is that they're as good as the people who ran the club the first time I was here," said Dalglish. "That's a hell of a statement because the people who ran the club then, Sir John Smith and Peter Robinson, were two of the best any football club could ever have had. "John, Tom Werner and the rest of the investors that have supported this football club have been absolutely fantastic. "Since I came in January they've been nothing but supportive towards what we have to do. "I am only looking at the football side. There will be other areas of the club where other people are better placed to answer questions about that. "But as a manager everything you look to find in a good owner they have. "They have been fantastically supportive, honourable, honest and respectful - everything that you would want - and we are very fortunate to have them." Henry and Werner will be at Anfield for the visit of Manchester United on Saturday. Irrespective of the result against the Barclays Premier League champions, they will be able to reflect on a positive year at the helm. They bought a club which was hours away from the banks foreclosing on the huge debts incurred by Hicks and Gillett and was wracked with internal politics and infighting. There was disharmony at all levels - the boardroom, the squad and the fans - and having lost their Champions League status and faced with crippling interest payments the future was looking bleak. Hicks and Gillett tried to block the sale by dragging the process through the High Court but it turned out to be a futile action, although they are still pursuing legal proceedings against some of the figures they feel were responsible for acting against them. It is no understatement to say FSG rescued Liverpool from the brink but not only that - they have started to make significant inroads into restoring the club to former glories. "You don't want to remember back to a year ago because it was such a difficult time and we have been through a lot of very stressful processes," managing director Ian Ayre told BBC Radio Merseyside. "What is more pleasing is that you wake up and realise just how far we have come since that day when we came through the courts to sell the club. "Administration was a very real threat and it was widely publicised at the time RBS had that option. "For all of the negativity that people put around them at the time they were incredibly supportive to the club because they didn't take the club down into administration, which was the last-ditch solution. "Fortunately we found a solution just in time." Ayre felt the Americans, who had no football experience, pulled off a masterstroke in bringing Dalglish back to take charge. "The appointment of Kenny was a transformation," he added. "Even post-sale we were still spinning and in a bit of turmoil. "We had new owners trying to understand the business and the decision to appoint Kenny gave everyone a reason to stop spinning and focus on something. "He being the person he is and the history he has with this club he was probably the only person that could have done that. "It was a fantastic thing to do and I think it was the catalyst for everything. "The owners have made a significant investment on the pitch and also off the pitch. "There has been a lot of hard work and change and it is starting to pay off as there is optimism around the club, the training ground and the academy. "Across the board it is heading in an upwards direction."