The Liverpool Problem: Moneyball

It was a night of endless possibility. Somewhere in the bowels of FSG Headquarters resided a machine of incalcuable calculating and computing prowess. Sheer bulk, it stood all of thirty foot high and measured on a good day at least seventy foot long. It’s dark frame gave rise to thoughts of a gothic mutant printing press. It’s flying buttresses didn’t help. Its constant whirring pieces and barely discernible inner workings were all an oily black. Some say it was built by a crazed mathematician with a fetish for horror and engineering. Others say it was just always there, right where it stood, and that the building was designed around it.

Whatever its origin, it was now used by John Henry as the sole intellectual thrust behind his fabled moneyball method of operation. Having never failed him as he oversaw the resurgence of the Redsox he was now aiming its limitless economical nous at ‘The Liverpool Problem’.

The January transfer window had thrown up the Torres conundrum. The doe eyed Spaniard became an out of form spanner in the works with only days of business left. The machine had come through in that instance, and a feisty Urugayan had arrived accompanied by a Newcastle target man with as big a transfer fee as had been seen in the English game.

But the machine was once again being called into action, on this aforementioned night of endless possibility. John Henry filed into the machines underground cathedral flanked by two figures completely concealed in purple robes. He took a vial of dark syrupy liquid from his jacket. The machine had somehow assimilated a clock into its workings at some point in its clouded history and it then dramatically chimed midnight.

As the clock steadily tolled out the hours Henry held the vial aloft and his voice rang loud and clear, ‘I John W. Henry bring forth this sacred virgin blood and implore the great calculating one to reveal the mysteries I set before it’. As the two robed figures began to chant, a jagged drawer slid open on a compartment at the front of the machine. It screeched as it slid to a standstill. If one was to look upon the inside they might have fathomed that it was a rich deep red velvet, but if pressed to touch, they would have refused on the grounds that it looked like it was heaving with breathe. And they might have been right.

Henry stepped forward and steadily poured the blood into the velvet drawer, which accepted the offering by allowing it to seep down into the fabric. With its appetite apparently sated, the drawer slid closed. As the last chime of midnight died down, Henry dropped to his knees and declared his question. ‘O ancient and knowing one. Who in your exalted opinion is the ideal candidate to lead Liverpool Football Club?’.

In something akin to another dimension that lay at the heart of the machines oily leaden mass, a great shattering of possible possibilities began. Atoms collided. The fabric of existence was stripped down to a legible series of esoteric hieroglyphs. The machine was at work deducing from all available knowledge who was to be the next successor to the Anfield Throne. John Henry waited. He looked upon the machine but could not focus upon it. Whenever he gazed on it he felt as if some incomprehensible intelligence was probing his soul through his eye sockets.

As was customary when it was calculating something it produced some residual output. A small door became apparent in its side, and then slid upward to reveal a completely black scowling penguin with brilliant orange eyes. It cocked its head at Henry who vaguely acknowledged it with the air of a man who was sick to the gills of seeing angry little penguins with orange eyes appear from the side of other worldly machines. He made an absent minded hand gesture and the two robed figures set about herding the penguin to a side room. As the angry little penguin entered this room thousands of glaring orange eyes turned to greet him. He did the penguin equivalent of a shrug and waddled off into their midst.

A solution was found in the depths of the universe that resided at the heart of the machine. It seared towards what was akin to reality in a super nova blaze and was finally, after some clanking of metal and whirring of cogs, translated to something legible to the eyes of John Henry. A thin strip of paper was fed from the machine. Henry pulled at it and began to read what it said. He read with the ever quickening speed of a man who is not liking what he’s seeing but is desperately trying to get to the end in the hope of finding some form of redemptive information. He got to the end and his shoulders sagged. He had not found what he was looking for. The strip of paper fell from his hand and landed on the floor.

Henry rubbed his forehead and massaged his hip, ‘I thought we had this goddamned club figured out, I thought we had our man. Oh boy, Kenny is not gonna be happy with this’. He seemed to collect himself and took out his phone. As he was leaving the room, once again flanked by the robed figures, he talked to his secretary ‘Get me Linda on the line, I need her to wash my Liverpool kit, I’ve got a five a side on the astro tonight. Oh and we need to employ another zookeeper to take care of those goddamned penguins’.

As Henrys voice faded away down some neon lit hallway the crumpled strip of paper lay forlornly on the ground. The name of the next Liverpool manager was etched onto it in a dark ink. Two important words sat next to eachother at the end of a sentence. Daniel Leydon.

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