Henry compares Liverpool challenge to Red Sox

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LONDON - Liverpool's new owner compared the challenge he faces at Anfield to that of taking over the Boston Red Sox and refused to raise expectations that there was a quick fix to the current malaise at the Merseyside club.

In his first in-depth interview since finally closing a 300 million pounds deal to buy the Premier League club on Friday, John W Henry spoke of the work ahead.

Henry bought the Red Sox in 2002 and less than two years later they won the World Series for the first time in 86 years.

He also refurbished the club's traditional but tatty Fenway Stadium and turned them into baseball's second biggest franchise with a value estimated at $840 million.

"We found more and more similarities between Liverpool 2010 and the Red Sox of 2001," Henry told Liverpool's website.

"I won't go into them at this point, but for instance the stadium issue was a big issue in Boston in 2001 and we went in there not knowing what we should do, whether we should build a new ball park or refurbish Fenway.

"We have the same issue here. We have to listen, learn, talk to the community, talk to the council, talk with the supporters, but the biggest issue of all is really what makes the most sense for Liverpool long term."

BATTERED IMAGE

Under previous owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett Liverpool had planned a new stadium in nearby Stanley Park but that project is currently on ice.

The stadium issue is just one of the challenges Henry faces as he tries to restore Liverpool's battered image.

"We're going to have to work very hard," he said. "There's a lot of work to be done to get this club to where it needs to be in the grand scheme of things.

"There is a great nucleus here off the field and on the field and we think we can build from that, but it's not going to be easy. We've got real challenges.

"It has been a tough three years and there were a lot of expectations created, so one thing I'm going to try not to do is to create a lot of expectations. I'm going to hopefully rather than make promises, deliver."

After more than a week of court cases, late-night meetings with Liverpool's board and blocking tactics by Hicks and Gillett, Henry said he was relieved to finally take control of England's most successful club.

"There were many days where I was wondering whether or not we'd be going home," he said. "In fact, even today I wasn't 100 percent confident. There were days where I was confident but there were a lot of twists and turns here."