Stop Walking, Start Holding. #WalkOn

Liverpool FC have cast a forlorn figure since the halcyon days of messers Shankly, Fagan and Paisley, the demise of any football club is often met with denial and a consequence of delusions of grandeur. The latter is the more recent tonic of Liverpool fans, we believe that we should have nothing but sky above and a litany of haters grimacing beneath.

Admittedly, we all like the romance of a British manager arriving and raising a fallen giant back to where they once were. Brendan Rodgers certainly came in and delivered the spiel as well as return some semblance of history. However it has proved to be all a little too opaque, because though we are proud of our history we need to create it, too.

When Rodgers arrived, he instilled a game plan and ethic to pass the ball, “death by passing/possession” he may have called it. With the abundance of possession we had in many games, we failed to kill games off or we hit the woodwork! Brendan changed that formula and we reaped some success in the latter part of the first season. Having plied that into the following season, with minor alterations occasionally the club came as close as they ever have to lifting the Premier League. From a formation and tactic that functioned adequately: to outscore your opponent we decided to change?

Our near triumphant season of 2013/14 started in admiration of how Rodgers handled Suarez’ transfer in the media: Retaining him provided a fillip for our entire season, and where we failed to maintain the momentum could have been prevented from lessons learned in the past. Even Tottenham’s failures provided adequate proof that a multitude of signings do not provide a solution. Not replacing Suarez was a disaster, and if indeed Sanchez was our primary target, not having sufficient contingencies has proved our undoing. Willian and Salah came from clubs that, despite playing in European competition, are not considered as high-profile if our fan-base is anything to go by. Yes they went to Chelsea, but even after negotiations that we are not all privy to, calculating the risks on exceptional players is rarely folly.

BR’s success in the transfer market makes for dire reading, many fans have little confidence in his defensive signings who have not justified their inflated transfer fees. I read recently that we have spent £770m since we last won the title, which represents a failed investment of success.

Even Benitez’ transfer successes overcame those quandaries that were implications of finance and availability rather than preference. A team of Reina, Torres, Xabi Alonso, Mascherano, Gerrard and one of the most consistently frugal defences in the league meant that teams feared that a result against Liverpool would never be easy. We heard stories that we were often shy of consolidating transfers by figures that would or could have given us an incredible first team: Ferdinand, Silva, Villa, Mata, Simao, Alves, Aguero.. and the list continues. Rafa complained that his transfer preferences were not met at Valencia and it seemed the same circus haunted him again. Fans are convinced that Robbie Keane and Aquilani were not his signings. It’s frightening to think what he could have achieved with adequate support.

Rafa was a man who knew and understood Europe, he continued to prove that at Chelsea and even now at Napoli. Where we were once formidable we have a man at the helm who’s play does not reflect the understanding that Rafa had. Rodgers’ inexperience in such competition may be a reason but he inherited a team in Europe and even this season European football has not been a highlight, on the contrary it was quite embarrassing.

BR’s over-confidence in his method, in his bravado and spin does not paper over the deficiencies to all other spectators. Possession of the football does not mean we are superior. A laymen like myself can tell you that we need to be clinical in the last third, but repeating that sentiment or assessment just proves that the staff are not providing the solutions to that problem.

  • IN any other high profile position, incessant tinkering of your method of play would demonstrate that there is too much indecisiveness in an approach. (See Villa)
  • Changing formation through the season, trying new things shows no tactical nous, it simply means that you’re wishing on a prayer.
  • Failing to replace one of the greatest players we’ve ever had is vocational suicide.
  • Not having a contingency is amateurish.
  • And trying to tell the world that the team did amazingly well is insulting.

With hope in my heart.

The Dregs of Football Society

Cacophonic noises roaring out of the Liverpool camp are understandably disheartening, not just to me as a supporter of a great club, but to any genuine football fan: to ANY person. It doesn’t stop there either, public relations monstrosities don’t come much worse than this recent debacle. The truth about how I feel about his whole situation is that Luis Suarez, great player that he is, does not harbour my complete support. Neither, in this particular incident do Liverpool FC and I’m glad I’m not alone in these sentiments. Thanks to statements by Alan Hansen on the BBC’s Match of the Day, I think there is an opportunity for a little introspection.

When Liverpool fans boo and jeer Evra, some do it as ill-thought banter, others because they believe the Manchester United captain is a liar and yet others who are genuinely bigoted: Proven by the imbecile who taunted Patrice Evra with monkey impressions. Admittedly, when I first heard the breaking news of Suarez’s racist abuse, I like many other Liverpool fans thought that Evra was up to his old tricks; after all he has cried wolf before. As the situation unfolded, I also let my love for Liverpool blind me against the correct course of action: For Suarez to accept his mistake and take his punishment like a man. Nevertheless, it was the reaction of Kenny Dalglish, a man who I hold in even greater regard, which was the most disparaging. I understand that he wants to protect his players, but he has stated on numerous occasions that Liverpool FC is bigger than any player; I just wish he stood by that.

In the aftermath of the original incident Luis Suarez admitted to making a comment regarding Patrice Evra’s race, though he alleges it was a term of endearment, however bizarre that may seem. An argument was brought forward regarding context and cultural nuances in language, but then there is also a need for some insight into other contextual issues:

  1. Most ensuing arguments tend to be said in anger, an ‘endearing’ comment could then imply sarcasm.
  2. Alleged repetition of the word, which as I understand was only stated by Evra, also reflects some kind of intent.

I really have nothing to add regarding the first point, it is more a characteristic of a man, to know how he deals with his own anger. In such case, it’s more speculative than a proven fact. The latter however, is why I think and hope Liverpool fans jeer the defender, let me explain: I mentioned that Evra has claimed racist abuse before; additionally the repetition is supplemented by the fact that  Evra has stated that he does not believe that Liverpool striker is a racist. To me, it seems incredibly inconsistent, if a person is persistently using language that is perceived to be racially derogatory, then they are invariably, a racist. Therefore, I believe that Evra is booed because Liverpool supporters think he is not being genuine.

The contextual argument still stands in my opinion, he was after all speaking to Evra in Spanish and his command of the English language is not as strong. I’m not attempting to make an excuse for Suarez here, I genuinely believe that there was no malice intended; I don’t believe he is a racist but racist language needs to followed in the context of your host’s environment and the recipient involved (Victim). Evra felt it was offensive, and in England it is deemed offensive to make such comments. Therefore, it was only correct that the outcome was a fine and a ban. In conclusion to the nuances in the language and familiarity to the environment, Suarez never felt he did anything wrong so insofar as enacting punishment was involved it could have been more lenient, but only if Suarez had shown some remorse. Unfortunately, he alongside his club defended his stance and all those involved were unwilling to admit their error. Public relations stunts such as the t-shirt fiasco and the perpetual defence from Dalglish have caused uproar: A tidal wave that Liverpool cannot and will not be able to quell immediately.

Liverpool had, up until this point, been seen as a friendly club; a team with appeal and integrity. That image has now become tarnished. The handshake advocated by the FA at Old Trafford was a farce but it heightened the tension of the whole affair, an extension strategy to a saturated product, if you like. Suarez probably felt aggrieved for defamation of character, once again I reiterate, I don’t believe the words were stated with any malice. Nevertheless, we return to the correct course of action, he SHOULD have just shook his hand and let the incident pass.

Unfortunately some of us are allowing our hearts to cloud our judgement. The reality of it is that Suarez was wrong, he should have just said, “sorry, I made a mistake, I apologise.”  He is after all a role model and an icon, but the institutional rebuttal of Suarez’s misdemeanour was something that Liverpool should have dealt with much more gracefully. By taking such a risky stance, Liverpool Football Club could be accused of turning a blind eye to the underlying issue: the spread of racism in football. Campaigns such as Kick it Out are undermined and can undo years of great work. The English FA, after having had taken such a hard line stance on a certain Sepp Blatter, were always going to address this issue with an iron fist. And good for them.

Sorry Shanks, football isn’t THIS important.

The England Anthem- Jeering

We do like a good goading of the opposition, the irony is that we the Great Nation invented football so that others can excel in it. But I guess we can say the same about rugby, cricket and hockey? It’s a welcome treat when we do stop the others from singing anymore just so we can taunt them with our sardonic statement of the obvious: that they aren’t singing anymore. We aren’t bothered that we’re winning, in fact we’re more likely to be delighted that the opponent is losing! The ironic cheer is a shriek of contentment that reverberates across the plains of Bodmin to marshes of the Geordie-land when someone fails to fulfil the simplest task. Neither can we help ourselves except that we must admonish them for gracing the pitch with their heathen, yet often mesmeric talent. A short, shrift “boo” is saved for our own but an elongated, violent thrust of the lungs, “BOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” tickles and tantilises my funny bone until I’m obligated to wipe a tear. I’m not sure if it encourages the foe or tames them into submission but nevertheless it’s so fun.

Its like sticking your index finger into someone’s temple repetitively or playing a Bette Midler song while someone is trying to relax. And you do it just to entice a reaction from your victim.

It becomes bizarre when a person decides to do it to their own; that is baffling. Yet it’s never quite as emphatic- a short prod rather than a fully extended poke. Is our self induced destruction meant to be some form of reverse psychology that only we know and understand? Because the booing of John Terry vs Egypt in his post-Brigde-Gate saga was hilarious yet he still shone as a beacon of promise in an otherwise dismal English defensive performance. Ok so the rules of “enigma” may apply here but we do love to hate our prodigal sons.

Now just imagine that this Freud-like theory actually encouraged our players, we calculate our boos to be long enough to say “You idiot!” and short enough to say “we love you” but never both short and long enough to mean “we love you, you idiot!” Anyway, what if it works and they improve- then what? Do we sit there in our smugness and think “I did that, I made him better- part of that 200k he’s earning right now is because of me.” No, we boo him more- not to get him to squeeze every bit of blood and sweat out of his body- but just to let him know “you’re an idiot.”

On the other hand, when it fails and they get worse we were always right- he was shit anyway, right? At this point we are allowed to cuss, take for example Theo Walcott- he was a pile of shit on Wednesday night.

And this is my point.. all this to justify that Theo Walcott is shit.