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CUP WIN IS ‘GREAT FIRST STEP’ – HENRY

Published: February 27, 2012 | 11:04 am
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Liverpool’s principal owner John Henry insists there is still a long way to go in the rebuilding process at Anfield, but was more than happy to have put some early silverware in the trophy cabinet.

Sunday’s Carling Cup victory over Cardiff on penalties came 500 days after Henry and his Fenway Sports Group took over the club with a £300million buy-out to oust former owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

And while the American admits he is still learning about the sport, as his grounding is in baseball as owner of the Boston Red Sox, he is well aware how significant ending a six-year trophy drought can be.

“It’s about silverware, right, so it will help us build on every level and it’s what our players and our fans expect,” Henry said.

“We are just so happy for the supporters, they have been through so much, so many things off the field.

“They are used to a certain kind of excellence; to see that start to emerge again [is great].

“We’ve still got a long way to go so I’m hesitant to say success has come quickly or it hasn’t – it’s been a year. We have so much to learn about all aspects of this sport and we are still learning.

“It’s completely different because the (baseball) World Series is the best of seven games and here it’s coming down to 30 minutes of overtime and those penalty kicks, which were extraordinary.

“But this is a great first step in what we are trying to accomplish in moving in the direction that we hope we would move.

“We need to win the FA Cup. We just need to beat Stoke (in the quarter-finals) and we would be extremely happy to do that.”

Henry’s business partner and Liverpool chairman Tom Werner endured a tense afternoon and found himself covering his eyes at the climax of the shootout.

He paid tribute to manager Kenny Dalglish, but stressed there were still other targets to reach this season.

“It was a nerve-wracking afternoon with a wonderful result – I couldn’t watch the final couple of shots,” the American said.

“There was a lot of pressure on Kenny and we are relieved for him because I think the expectations were so high.

“It was a just wonderful day for him and we gave him a big hug because he really deserves the credit.

“I think that now we can move on. We have a match next weekend against Arsenal and our goal is still to make the Champions League, but this has been a big day for us.

“It is only one marker but to see the joy on the faces of our players, I think it is going to give them a lot of enthusiasm for the rest of the season to move forward.

“It is a privilege to be involved with Liverpool. This is the eighth League Cup Liverpool has won and we are still hungry for more.”

Managing director Ian Ayre, who saw the club through some their darkest days when Hicks and Gillett took the Reds to the brink of administration, paid tribute to Henry and Werner.

“After the takeover just over a year ago you need a bit of time,” he told liverpoolfc.tv. “New players, new manager – to see it all come together is fantastic for everyone.

“For someone to come in during a pretty distressed situation and invest what they have and keep the faith, they deserve this and even more than this. They put so much into it.

“We’ve always said that the most important thing is that we keep progressing and in the last couple of months we’ve seemed to progress.

“To progress from this? Winning other trophies is what that means, I guess.

“We’re guaranteed a place in Europe now, which is where we belong, and we can now try to push on in the FA Cup and try to get into the Champions League. As long as we keep progressing.”

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