Fenway Sports Group have brought Theo Epstein on board as Senior Advisor, and one of the 50-year-old’s first tasks will be finding a replacement for Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool manager.
Epstein, ranked one of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2017, is a long-time baseball executive, and his appointment as Boston Red Sox’s General Manager led the team to their first World Series championship in 86 years back in 2004.
FSG’s Major League Baseball franchise added another title under Epstein in 2007 before an acrimonious split between the two in 2011. A rift between Liverpool owner John Henry and Epstein has since been healed.
Epstein then moved to the Chicago Cubs, where he was responsible for breaking an even longer curse, leading the Cubs to their first World Series in 108 years back in 2016.
Having worked with MLB as Senior Advisor, he now returns to the FSG fold with an announcement last Friday confirming his appointment.
FSG president Mike Gordon is leading the search for Klopp’s successor and now Epstein will get to work on the same task.
Gordon and Epstein go back a long way and he also grew up alongside current Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy.
Kennedy spoke with The Athletic over the weekend and revealed that "one of Epstein’s most immediate and highest-profile tasks will be consulting as Liverpool hires a replacement for Klopp."
“If our teams and clubs aren’t winning, there’s nothing to talk about. No one knows better how to win than Theo,” Kennedy said.
Big challenges ahead
Liverpool have been a club on solid footing since the appointment of Klopp as manager back in 2015. The German has led the Reds to every major honour available to him and his departure risks destabilising the structure.
There is no sporting director currently in place, following the loss of Jorg Schmadtke after the January transfer window, while a number of top stars are out of contract in 2025.
But first there is the Klopp appointment, which will be informed by the club’s data analysts, who are looking for a perfect match on a playing style which will suit the squad.
Xabi Alonso has been named as the early frontrunner to take over from Klopp at the end of the season.
Epstein was reported by the Athletic to be a keen Premier League fan and watches Liverpool closely.
The development comes at a time of significant upheaval for FSG. The Red Sox are a long way off the pace while Liverpool needs careful care and attention.
For a man once ranked by Fortune as No.1 in the list of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders, it promises to be yet another tough challenge.