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Thursday, March 8, 2012
Ayre seeking positive focus

Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre believes the positivity surrounding their recent Carling Cup triumph has to be "grasped with both hands" after months of negative headlines at Anfield.

• Johnson reignites Suarez row

When new owners Fenway Sports Group rescued the club from the dysfunctional reign of Tom Hicks and George Gillett in October 2010, it seemed the worst was over in terms of the Reds' public profile.

The short, dreadful spell under manager Roy Hodgson, and his subsequent dismissal, was balanced out by the return of Kenny Dalglish for a second stint as boss.

But following the Luis Suarez-Patrice Evra race row in October the club came in for worldwide criticism for their handling of the affair, which defender Glen Johnson re-ignited on Thursday by accusing the Manchester United defender of stoking up further anti-Suarez feeling by initiating the now infamous non-handshake at Old Trafford last month.

However, February ended with Liverpool's first trophy for six years and Ayre hopes that can be the start of rebuilding the damage done to the club's image.

"We've had certain things that have gone on that people have put a negative slant on Liverpool - but this is a positive one and we should grasp it with both hands and move forward with it," he said. "We've always said the way we perform on the pitch has a direct effect on the way we perform off the pitch, whether it's sponsors, community work or other things.

"We've shown we're ready to compete for trophies. We've won one and it means people see Liverpool are still up there and still a team competing for trophies. That's what we all need.

"On and off the pitch we need to be the best we can be. We're making great strides off the pitch, and now making great strides on the pitch. As long as those two things come together in tandem then the club has a great future."

The Carling Cup may be derided in some quarters but Ayre said it was an important marker point for Liverpool.

"I think people probably underestimated at the time the significance of that win to us as a football club," he told the club's official website. "We've been through a lot in the last few years - our fans have been through a lot, everybody concerned with the club has been through a lot.

"I think getting to our first new Wembley final had a lot of significance for lots of reasons other than just winning. We've always spoken about progress, so if you win one trophy, then progress is at least another one and then another - but nobody is getting carried away either."




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