During a 90-minute fans’ phone-in on the club’s official television channel on Monday night, Werner, appointed Liverpool’s chairman this month, insisted the Anfield board “believe in what Roy is doing” but “certainly feel like the performance has to improve”.
More telling, though, was the description of Liverpool’s current standing offered by Henry, the principal backer of the Fenway Sports Group consortium which owns the club.
The defeat at Newcastle, which prompted Hodgson to call an impassioned team meeting on Monday, left his side ninth in the Premier League, nine points adrift of a Champions League place.
“Where we are at this point is not acceptable,” Henry said. “When [FSG talk about] rebuilding the club, we mean building for the top of the table. That is something that is going to be really difficult to do this year and a real challenge for next year.”
Both Henry and Werner were keen to illustrate FSG’s long-term commitment to the club they purchased for £300 million in October, insisting that they saw returning Liverpool to a position to challenge for trophies as a “three to five-year” project. That does not mean, though, that there is either time to waste or room for error.
“We are certainly looking at it as a three to five-year project,” said Henry, who added that Kenny Dalglish would be offered a more substantive role at the club than he currently enjoys as an academy ambassador. “It would not have made sense for us to get involved if we did not think we could win the Premier League in three to five years.
“There has not been a Premier League title here since it was created [in 1992], so that is our largest goal. I do not know if it should be a larger goal than winning in Europe but those are our two main goals. We have to be in a position within three years to do that.
“Over the last two years there have been some short-term decisions that have really hurt. It is up to us to help turn the tide and move on. We have to be patient and have a long-term vision.”
That FSG are determined to shape Liverpool to that vision will not preclude spending in the January transfer window, with Werner admitting they are prepared to take “risks” if they are in the best interests of the club.
Both he and Henry, though, insist they will not repeat the mistakes of the past. If Werner’s assessment that some previous transfer “decisions were focused on nice PR work” was not sufficiently damning, then his partner’s assertion that some Liverpool players could be described as “overpaid” certainly was.
“This is our first transfer window,” said Henry. “There is no doubt that this season and the last half of last season were unacceptable for Liverpool. We are in sync with fans for what it is going to take going forward.”