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“Un – titled”

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by Aitch

NB: Post written before Saturday’s win over Wigan.

I’m not really sure where to start this blog.
I’m trying to get over being “comfortably numb” but with each passing week of the campaign, the numbness sets further.

I’d love to get excited over something… you know, besides naughtyschoolgirls .com… but I just don’t seem to be able to.
I need some footy viagra or something.
Some sort of pill or perhaps sports drink, that will keep me excited for four months, but come with a warning to seek medical attention should I find myself still sporting footy wood come May. :)

And I know it’s not just me. I’ve read similar comments on various MBs, and the 200 emails per week I used to exchange with my mates, discussing all manner of LFC related issues, has now dwindled to a meager trickle, that is largely driven by a weekly results predictor league we continue to engage in, with barely any post-match analysis, player rating, or general comment.

I’d love to have the passion of opinion, on any of the pros or cons of LFC 2012, that I have had with previous incarnations of the club… but I just don’t right now.

I hear people waxing lyric over our newfound passing system, and I think… what?
Have we not always been a passing team?
Did you not watch us under Rafa?
Did you simply choose to ignore (consciously or otherwise) Kenny’s first 12 months and concentrate only on whatever that last 6 months was?
… or even the almost complete ignoring of how often we seem to be carelessly and in many cases, needlessly giving the ball away in this new “possession centric passing game”.
But I find myself not really caring to make such an argument.

And I hear people talking about how good we’re playing now and how a striker would solve all our ills.
… but we’ve actually created fewer goalscoring chances than at this point last season.
… he says making an argument…

“Ah but we’re creating better chances” I actually read one lad argue in another forum.
Which is a bit strange considering we’d hit the woodwork about 15 times at this point last season, and have only done so 4 times this campaign… so in actual fact, not only are we creating fewer chances, but our shooting accuracy is deteriorating also.
… which is once again, engaging in the argument…
… but I hardly feel like pressing these or any other points these days.

Let me interject here and state categorically that this is in no way an attempt to convey a message of discontent with the current manager.
At this point, as at the moment of his hiring, I continue to be 100% behind Brendan Rodgers and what he is trying to do.

My first few entries as guest blogger in Gerry’s absence caused a few ruffled feathers
Okay, they asked pointed questions… about the club… and of the fanbase… but while we’ve gone through considerable change since then, I’m not convinced yet that it is considerable improvement to be honest.

We are in the virtually same League position as we were 2 years ago under Hodgson..
…granted we aren’t spending 45 minutes camped out in our own half against the Mancs, or considering a point at Birmingham some sort of “historic result or achievement…
… And I hear all the hope, and recognize the signs that point to the potential for progress as the season continues…
… but I don’t yet see anything that suggests that as a likelihood we can count on.

For my money, LFC’s situation is as much in-flux as it was.
And for all the “mistakes of the past” …frankly… we’ve continued to make mistakes in the now.

In some ways the club is now “more stable” since the new owners are actual businessmen, rather than cigar smoking pretenders to that title.
But I am under no illusion that John Henry and Co bought us for no other reason than that we were an undervalued asset which could be stabilized fairly easily, and flipped at some point for a profit.
I’m seriously at a loss to understand why anyone thinks otherwise?
And on many levels, I suppose that’s fine… but we’ve ceded any pretense of a title challenge, and much pretense of an actual top 4 challenge in the process.
Too many in our fanbase, in lauding this idea of a “self-sustaining club” seem to be ignoring what that means in terms of practical league position and squad personal… especially when starting from the “depressed position” we were in.

In their first transfer window they made a “statement of intent”.
All I can say about that is “thank fuck Luis Suarez was part of that statement, coz every other word of it was a fuckin disaster.”
…and frankly… the “statement” was a bit of a boondoggle really.
Maybe it wouldn’t have been had they spent better, or more wisely… but it is what it is… and what it was, was a boondoggle… riding on a sea of euphoria over the “just in the nick of time” termination of G&H’s disastrous regime and the headlines of “record signing”… it looked for all the world like we were back and competing.

But we weren’t… we sold a piece of the family’s best silver to do those deals. There was no investment from the owners.

In the subsequent transfer window they again made what many thought to be “a statement of intent”.
…120 million quids worth.
Impressive… but that figure obscured for many the actual numbers …which involved 30+ players leaving the club to finance that shopping spree.
And again… the failures of the new signings are there for all to see and argue about incessantly… and boy do we all love such arguments…
… but it conveniently steers us from looking at the men behind the curtain… who once again sunk none of their own money into the transfers… player sales, tv money and sponsor revenues covered the deals.
Decisions certainly could have been better. Money better spent. But it wasn’t.

And only one man paid the price for decisions that were made not by him alone, but by committee of him, Comolli, Ayre and FSG.
I know some people don’t want to hear that.

The voices blaming Rafa were loud and clear… but we now KNOW beyond doubt that the poor bastard was crawling through a sewer of bullshit during his time at the club…
… that he kept us competitive for all but one season is testament to his ability…
…but people chose to look only at his final season.
Some continue to do this to this day… and call themselves… well… I won’t go there.

I remember a discussion with a good friend of mine at the time.
He wasn’t particularly anti-Rafa, but he had at that point allowed all the anti-Rafa arguments to sink in enough to the point where he had simply concluded that perhaps Rafa needed to go for the good of the club… coz we needed unification.
While I disagreed with his conclusion, I accepted how he had come to it…. how could you not at that point…
…but I suggested that it wasn’t Rafa that was dividing us… it was G&H and all their shenanigans… with Rafa the one without a seat when the music stopped.
He now accepts the folly of that decision… and the road it has led us down.

Now bare with me here… coz I need to make a point about Kenny to get us current.

I know I’ll not change anyone’s mind about Kenny Dalglish.
I think as much as with Rafa, there’s little to no middle ground with Kenny.
Hodgson should never have been thought about, never considered for the position, and anyone who thought it was a good idea should frankly be embarrassed. When England fail in their endeavours, he will be fired and immediately hired by whatever mid-table club needs to stay mid-table, or whatever 3rd rate foreign team thinks he might be able to give them a shout at a title in a Championship grade league. That is who he is. Like Allardyce, like Curbishley, like “insert name of managers who are always employed below the surface” here.
Hodgson’s dismissal was righting a ludicrous wrong.
But like Rafa, you either think Kenny’s dismissal was a mistake, or you think it was the right thing to do.

Understand… it is not that I don’t understand the arguments for Kenny’s dismissal.
I do.
I just don’t think they outwayed the arguments for allowing him to continue.
And more importantly I think the decision set precedent for the current manager.

The man was in charge for 18 months. The football we played in that time was successful for 12 months and “unsuccessful” (coz cups don’t count) for 6 months… and so he had to go.
Under his stewardship (completely ignoring the DoF experiment) we wasted 120 million in the transfer market…. So he had to go.
Under his management the quality of football went backwards in the last 6 months… confirming the hypothesis that it would continue to regress into this season… again ignoring victories over Stoke and Everton en-route to the FA Cup Final, and a 4-1 romping of the Chavs.

Again… I’m not discounting the utter shame of losing embarrassingly to Swansea in the last game of the season… what I have a problem with is the ignoring of the games mentioned above, and as many others for every negative result/performance, in order to draw the conclusion that we were regressing unequivocally and therefore a change was needed.

I do think a change was needed. In fact, I think 2 changes were needed.
First… the removal of Damien Comolli as DoF and the termination of that experiment… Second… the replacement of Ian Ayre as Top Executive.
Ayre was a fine transitionary appointment from the debacle that was Christian Purslow… but he’s a fuckin lightweight of a CEO (in and of himself, let alone in comparison to the Execs at other top clubs.)

Which brings me to where we are.

The change was made.
Brendan Rodgers was installed… and the DoF was scrapped.
Sounds good.
Ian Ayre kept his job… which was not so great… (but I will concede that given the number of heads that rolled in the summer, we needed “some” stability, so maybe that justifies saving him?)

I gotta say that regardless of how well or not “certain players” did last season… the almost cynical culling of Kenny’s signings was slightly alarming…
… not coz they were world beaters… but simply coz we didn’t really “replace” them with players who were clearly and unequivocally better.
Some will want to argue that X player is better than Y player… the arguments are there to make for and against all exiting and entering players… but the fact is… only Joe Allen was considerably better than the player he directly replaced (either Spearing or Adam depending on your point of view).

And again, don’t get me wrong, I like the look of some of the new lads. Assaidi for instance looks promising, as does Sahin (though we only borrowed him.)
…And I love that we are promoting kids… but you get what you get with kids… real talent shown occasionally, brain farts of concentration lapses shown also… and inexperience of decision making…
… and then there’s the burnout factor.

Andre “Norman” Wisdom has to be one of the best right backs we’ve produced since Rob Jones. He has looked immense in some games. But he’s also looked really tired in the last few.

As much as I love watching Sterling, defenders have seen enough of him now to know that you double-team him, you don’t let him get a run on you, and if necessary, you simply muscle him off the ball… I fear for his continued fitness… and that is a two-pronged fear…
…first…in that young players are still physically developing and can easily be ruined by the weekly intensity of the prem (let alone getting called up midweek for England… seriously… there were no senior players, so you had to call on a kid???)…
…and second… in the likelihood of some fuckin thug like Shawcross simply twatting him so as not to look like a nutmegged dickhead.

And even the revelation that is Joe Allen has looked a bit dodgy the last couple of games.

While some of these lads do look like they might be able to last the season… we’ve already seen a few of the others clearly show they can’t be relied on for 38 + the cups.
How much better would it have been to hold onto Spearing to give Allen a break in the Carling Cup for instance?

And so to the “bit of a poisoned chalice” that I think Brendan Rodgers has been sold.

It was my one defense of Roy Hodgson.
He was sold the LFC manager’s job, and probably promised all sorts of players and control… who wouldn’t take it? Then when he got here, he probably thought… “fuckin ‘ell, this is what Benitez was dealing with? These guys are fuckwits. No wonder he “had a rant” and “left by mutual consent.”
(he was still a fuckin pratt, mind you :) )

The 2012 Summer’s business can’t yet be classed a clear cut failure…
… we singed a few good young lads. If they fulfill their promise, there’s a squad to build on… but they must be given more than one season to prove themselves…
… but build on it we must.

Say what you want about Clint Dempsey. He would have been a very useful tool.
And useful tools often cost 6 million.
I don’t give a fuck about all the he said-she said that has been printed about that transfer…
What I “know” is that FSG posted an article on their own website announcing his signing in July. So they MUST have been more than marginally interested in buying him.
…meaning this was NOT a last minute cock-up.

The price at that time was being rumored at 10 million quid.
A good friend of mine rates Dempsey quite highly. He was a happy camper when that “rumor” surfaced. And we subsequently had a discussion about his acquisition.
He argued we needed him. I argued he’d be useful, but not at 10 million. Maybe if we could get him for between 4 and 6 million that would represent good business, especially with the TV show and U.S. shirt sales to consider. He agreed.
So there it was. In July… Dempsey for 6 million. Fair Enough.
Then we fuckin haggled them and rejected 6 million???
Just exactly how much did they think he was gonna cost when they posted that article in July??? He was their leading goalscorer for fucks sake.
He was never gonna cost less than 6 million.
Whatever the “truth” of this saga… someone… somewhere… got it badly wrong.
Some blame Ayre. Some FSG.
And frankly… questions have to be asked about this idea that Brendan demanded transfer say over a DoF system, yet basically didn’t have say over this deal and the Carrol loan that was perhaps part of it?
Not because of those deals… but because it speaks to any future transfers.

To clarify my point…
Any judgment of Brendan Rodgers… and there is going to be judgment… must include this continued backstage wrangling…
… the fuckin bollocks we thought we’d left behind us when G&H were ousted…
… but which has proved, with every transfer window, to be still a big and continuing part of our incessant tendency to fuck-up!
(I await a call requesting a private meeting with Jackie Chan wherein I’ll be “warned” to ease up on FSG, or else)

We must back Brendan Rodgers. We must back him 100%.
6 months is not enough to judge. 1 season is not enough to judge.
These time-frames ‘inform” our opinions… but if such information is used to conclude that “he’s not good enough” and we make yet another managerial change in the summer, then be under no illusion… we will be lucky if we are in the position of getting one last chance to “get it right” …or be mired in mid-table for a decade.

Whatever BR’s plan is… we must stick to it… but part of sticking to that plan… is investment.

If we are to be nothing more than a “self-sustaining” club… then we will not win the Prem.
We are starting from too eroded a position… and we now have too many “rivals” trying to buy it.
If we are to be nothing more than a “self-sustaining” club… then a Top Four finish is going to be increasingly out of our grasp… certainly in terms of finishing there season after season… since the competition is stronger for those spots… and the competition for the 5th through 8th spots is also stronger.
If we are to be nothing more than a “self-sustaining” club… then cup wins, let alone runs, will be increasingly rare.

Ask yourself… what club outside the “top 5 or 6” has consistently… consistently… run to at least the semi’s of one or both cups, every season?
Or even 3 out of 6 seasons.
The answer is… Not many.

This is the position we are now in. And the fault does NOT all lie at Kenny Dalglish’s door.

And the fault does not all lie at FSG’s door either. They picked up a company in great disrepair. That is what they do.
G&H were like Bain Capital … people who strip mine companies of its assets… then sell off what’s left, or bankrupt it if that is more profitable.
FSG will eventually flip us. But flippers make money by improving the asset to be worth more than it was.
Unfortunately for us… we weren’t worth much.
Fortunately for them… we weren’t worth much, so they’ve already made us worth more.

What I mean by that is…LFC’s worth existed in its salvage, rather than in what it was. Coz G&H left us in more disrepair than any of us really knew… even those of us with too much fuckin time on our hands, who troll the internet for any tidbits of information we can get about these matters.

LFC’s worth is in its “global brand” and that “global brand” is worth only what it’s “global appeal” is.
But it’s a Catch 22…
…coz your “global appeal” is based on winning things.
Yes that means the Prem and the CL… those are the big ones… but the small cups keep you relevant too. The ones that don’t matter are still “Finals” and “Finals” are “Big News” … broadcast to a worldwide viewing audience…
We need to be in them AS we work our way back to the top…. To stay relevant … To attract talent… To make us more competitive, so we CAN work our way back to the top.
These things are stepping-stones to success, rather than success themselves… but they count in the march to success.

This is gonna require investment… beyond a “self-sustaining” 30-40 million per window.
And we have few precious salable assets left… Suarez, Pepe, Agger, Skrtel…
Can we afford to lose any of them… really?
(Amid rumors of a bid for Suarez, I’m more concerned that it’ll be Pepe leaving us in January.)
If we were still comfortably “top 4” and selling and replacing… that would be one thing…
… but we’re not…
We’re a team that finished 7th, 6th, and 8th and is currently in 13th place with 12 points from 11 games… and with our next game against 14th placed Wigan.

I am behind Brendan Rodgers… and anyone even remotely thinking about a managerial change at this point needs to check that shit, big time, stow their fuckin wishy-washy, lean which way the wind blows, not good enough for mentality and get the fuck on board.

Analyze what your seeing.
Criticize decisions.
Rate players.
By all means analyze and rate Rodgers… but do us all the courtesy of agreeing that he absolutely MUST get what Kenny did not… regardless of results, or league position… TIME.

I am not particularly impressed by our passing stats, nor our possession stats.
I’m not particularly sold on the idea that “this system” will work.
But I do recognize that we do not have the players (or not enough of them anyway) to properly implement this system to any real effect just yet.

If you think Lucas would have made a difference, you’re right. But I seriously doubt it would have made a 12point difference.
The same can be said of buying Dempsey or keeping Carroll.

But all 3… fit and available each week?
Maybe, just maybe, that could make a 6point difference or even a 9point difference.

We need a helluva lot more than just “a striker in January”.
This squad still needs a top striker, 2 top wide players, at least a 2nd tier DM, a quality “hole player” and a fuckin Top Quality LEFT BACK… coz Enrique ain’t it, and neither is Johnson… and while Robinson might be “a little engine that could” and could become a good left back, he’s not even on the same level as Wisdom over on the right.

That’s six players… and not Borini’s or Assaidis… we need better than that…
…Get those and we’d have a “decent squad that could consistently compete” for the top ¼ of the Table… regardless of manager.

Until then…Brendan will keep huffing and puffing.
He’ll keep the lads passing and passing… and passing… and passing… (…and passing… sorry couldn’t resist)
… and maybe occasionally we’ll switch to probing… and win a few.
And earnestly… the kids will try their best, and sometimes that’ll be good enough, and sometimes that won’t.
And hopefully, enough of the senior lads won’t decide “fuck this I want Champions League” and Brendan will be able to ADD to them, rather than REPLACE them.

Until then… we’ll “expect” to pick up 3 points against Wigan, when realistically, we no longer have the right to such “expectation”.
…we’ll “expect” to bag 3 points against Young Boys, when they’ve just showed that such an “expectation” would be, at the very least, ill-advised.
…we’ll “expect” January signings of strength and note… and not at the cost of an established pro… when we’ve been given little evidence to suggest that will transpire.

…we will Hope that…
… Luis stays fit and suspension free…
… that Sterling doesn’t get injured…
…. that Wisdom doesn’t burn out…
… that Allen finds his consistency again…
… that SG is still capable of more than 1 good game in 3…
… and that whatever Enrique is eating or drinking, he continues to eat or drink it, (same for Jamie C.) :)
… and we will hope that somehow, Brendan finds some precious points from somewhere, be it Wigan, Swansea, Spurs, Southampton, West Ham, Aston Villa… with at least one of Young Boys and Udinese, a must win, in there too.

Those are the next 7 matches… (5 league games… 2 Europa Leagues.)

To end the last blog I listed our upcoming fixtures and premised that it didn’t contain too many games that weren’t “must win”
Reading, Anzhi (EL), Everton, Swansea (LC), Newcastle, Anzhi (EL), Chelsea
2 wins, 3 Draws, 2 Lost

We NEED to fair better in the next 7 than we did in that 7.
The thing is… I used to always have “confidence” we would… now I only “hope” we do.
And some of you will think that hope is a good thing, perhaps the best of things.
I want to side with you, I really do, but at the moment, I’m a Red and I think hope might be a dangerous thing to have in a place like this.
(see what I did there? :) )

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  • LondonBarnes

    £18m + £35m = £53m in a season. With a decent football operation in place the club would be competitive (for a top 4 place) with this level of investment.