Tony Massarotti was never sold on the title of his book.
After the Boston Red Sox, owned by John W. Henry’s Fenway Sports Group, flattened the Colorado Rockies to win baseball’s 2007 World Series, the sportswriter penned a warts-and-all tale of how a team ended 86 years of hurt with two titles in quick succession. It was called Dynasty: The Inside Story of How the Red Sox Became a Baseball Powerhouse.
‘I wanted Dynasty In The Making,’ Massarotti tells Sportsmail. ‘I thought they were in the process of building what looked like a dominating baseball force. They put in the foundations for a dynasty. And then they threw it away.’
Liverpool owner John Henry (second left) holds the baseball World Series trophy in 2007 after his Boston Red Sox side secured their second title in four years following an 86-year drought
The Red Sox went on to win two more World Series in 2013 and 2018, establishing themselves as the most successful team in the 21st century.
But behind the statistics, a more cautionary tale perhaps for fans of Liverpool ahead of their Premier League title defence, which begins against Leeds on Saturday.
‘The first half of (FSG’s) ownership has been an example of what to do,’ Massarotti adds. ‘The last half I’d argue is an example of what not to do.’
Here, Henry and Co have reached another crucial juncture. After 10 years of rebuilding on Merseyside, the club have broken a 30-year curse of their own. But can Jurgen Klopp’s side stay on their perch?
Liverpool will now hope they can build on their Premier League success in 2020 having previously gone 30 years without winning the English top flight
‘If fans of Liverpool are looking for some sort of indication, I’d almost look at it as a second marriage,’ Massarotti says. ‘(FSG) know the mistakes they made in their first marriage with the Red Sox... if they screw it up again, it’s nobody’s fault but their own.’
The blueprint is clear. For all the discrepancies between baseball and football, FSG have a modus operandi which transcends sporting divides.
At both Fenway Park and Anfield, Henry and Co resisted building new stadiums, boosting revenue instead by marrying historic stadiums with modern ideas and breeding a winning ‘clubhouse culture’.
‘It’s the similarities that are important,’ Henry said after Liverpool’s title win. ‘Building the right team first and foremost with the discipline to stick to bold plans.’
Nowhere is this more obvious than in their faith in analytics through sporting director Michael Edwards at Liverpool and Theo Epstein, appointed General Manager at only 28, at the Red Sox.
Part of Henry's success has been modifying Anfield rather than building a new stadium
They have met scepticism along the way for some of their more innovative ideas - such as Liverpool’s throw-in coach. But a common thread stretches across the Atlantic: by combining traditional scouting with modern methods they can bridge the divide to richer rivals. Both Liverpool and the Red Sox built winning teams by finding value in young prospects, and by being happy to splash out on superstars such as J.D. Martinez and Virgil van Dijk.
‘(Tom) Werner and Henry do not spare any expense on players’ development,’ says Gordon Edes, Red Sox historian and a communications advisor to FSG. ‘I do see so many parallels.’
But having built the winning Liverpool team, what happens next?
After their first World Series win in 2004, FSG continued to break ground. They explored new ways of using analytics defensively and won another World Series three years later. The model remained, even if some players didn’t. ‘The hardest thing to do when you win, is to stay true to your philosophy,’ Massarotti says. ‘Because inevitably you want to reward everyone who was involved in winning. And you just can’t.’
Instead FSG and Epstein identified the players they couldn’t afford to lose, and lost the players they could afford to replace.
Henry will hope current manager Jurgen Klopp (right) can continue to get the best out of his squad which has a blend of experienced stars and promising youngsterssonos sonos One (Gen 2) - Voice Controlled Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa Built-in - Black read more
‘It’s built into the plan that you don’t just put together a great team and assume it’s going to repeat its success,’ says Edes. ‘You do have to bring in new parts and be willing to part