Diego Mardonna likens countryman Javier Mascherano to a monster. Rich, coming from a guy dogged by drug-abuse, obesity and a general taste for destruction. Nevertheless, the comparison is understandable.
Since arriving at Anfield last January, the Argentine midfielder has provided the bedrock for a progressing outfit. His presence in the midfield covers that unfashionable void left by Dietmar Hamann.
Of course, there is the tackling. Tenacious, unceremonious and occasionally brutal, ‘Masch’ tears into opponents at will. Yet underpinning such ferocity is an actual art-form. This is proven when reviewing a challenge from Mohammed Sissoko. Like his teammate, the appetite is infallible, yet the technique is uncontrolled, clumsy and often calamitous.
Macherano possesses the crucial skill which defines midfield anchormen from world-class holding players – an eye for a pass. Football’s very own darling, Robbie Savage, boasts the battering-ram facet but, though he’d probably disagree, cannot deliver that vital, match-winning assist from the middle of the park. It is this quality which separates the likes of Mascherano, Makelele and Xavi from their peers.
The 23-year-old has also immersed himself into Liverpool culture. He goes about his business in a professional manner, never complaining when dropped, ignoring the showbiz pitfalls and appreciating the lifeline that has been LFC.
Clearly, positives of plenty come to the fore. But, unwittingly, Merseyside’s Monster has found himself at the centre of an ugly showdown. Yes, our two Americans, who else? threaten the longevity of his, and Rafael Benitez’ Anfield tenures.
When sitting down to write this article, my first in some time, I have struggled to hold back, such is my vehemence. Like most of our passionate supporters, I struggle to comprehend the workings of these two clowns – Messers Hicks and Gillett.
We should have known from the outset that their intentions were false. Come on, anyone calling the great Liverpool Football Club a franchise knows nothing about tradition. Our club is different to any other. We are the most successful yes, but it runs so much deeper than that. The connection between player and fan is special. We have lived through the ‘wind and the rain’ and revelled in the ‘golden sky’ – together. We know our football and we know when we are being conned.
A student of politics, I have come to understand the concept of spin. Cleverly disguised lines are forwarded in order to trick or simply stave-off critics. This can work to a point of no return.
Lets cast our minds back. When the Yanks took control we were promised that stadium work would begin in one month. Four weeks later, the New Anfield was as much a reality as my dating Kylie.
Due to the wave of optimism sweeping through the corridors of Melwood, this ‘miscalculation’ was ignored.
Then we were promised that June/July would see the laying of foundations – the beginning of a new 60,000 seater ground we could be proud of. Erm? Unless I find myself in one almighty comma, that appears to have passed us by too.
Admittedly, signings have come. Torres for Â£20million was fantastic, as was Babel for Â£11million. But hang on; let us remember what has been recouped.
Craig Bellamy for Â£7million, Djibril Cisse for Â£6million. Then there was Mark Gonzalez’ departure, Gabriel Palletta (Thank the Lord!), Jerzy Dudek (whose wages would have been sizable), Robbie Fowler, Luis Garcia, Bolo Zenden…
The list goes on. Meaning? Well, not that great a sum has been spent on new acquisitions.
Without doubt however, the worst aspect of their ill-fated reign has been the treatment of Benitez. These guys do not understand ‘soccer’ in the slightest. If Rafa, as some quarters keep suggesting, is to be axed, where do we go? Other than appointing Jose Mourinho or Fabio Capello it is a step down. The latter of course, is now unavailable.
But do not fear, a master plan is in place Kopites. That’s right – Jurgen Klinsmann! Do not get me wrong, the German was a great player but let’s be serious – I’d rather have Graeme Souness back. In management, he guided a Germany side to the semi-finals of their own World Cup. Big deal. I won the European Cup on Championship manager once!
Liverpool is becoming a farce. We once prided ourselves on privacy – in-house dealings which maintained a credible image. Now, every corner of the footballing world has been subjected to the proverbial washing of dirty linen.
But the US tycoons are not solely to blame. One individual deserves special mention. Rick Parry. The Chief Executive’s nose is currently browner than my family’s Chocolate Log. He cares for number one and nobody else. If contributing to Rafa’s fall saves his own skin, he’ll do it. It is blunder after blunder with Mr. Parry and he should grow some overdue backbone.
Think back reds … who was it that almost forced Steven Gerrard to exit? Who was it that succeeded in exiling Robbie Fowler? Who was it that ruined the best takeover deal imaginable with DIC? Who was it that failed to speak-out and add an air of reassurance to fans last month? Who was it that turned down the opportunity of global revenue from featuring in the ‘Goal ‘Movies? Who was it that presented the inaugural Premiership trophy to Manchester United?
The list goes on.
Parry, along with his two Stateside chums needs to go. That way we would keep Mascherano yes, but more importantly our manager, our respectability, our long-term security and our dreams of Anfield II.
This piece was not meant to be a rant but I find it impossible to write much else at the moment. The club I love is being ruined by these imbeciles and it angers me to immeasurable lengths.
Returning to the actual subject, the Mascherano deal defines the uneasiness surrounding L4 right now. Manchester United would fund such a transfer (Â£17million) because they are winners. We on the other hand waver because we play second fiddle. We have done for the past 18 years and will continue to do so unless a much needed change of attitude arises.
This player highlights all the attributes needed for a title-winning side. Losing him would send out the wrong message. But then again … 2007 has been a year for that.