So, I almost resorted to a sensationalist tabloid-style headline for this piece, for no other real reason than to parody the ridiculousness of the current tabloid mentality.
But I digress. I write to express my feelings towards this summer, based off the back of last season and the warm-up to what should be ‘œour best chance of winning the title in over a decade’.
To have a season as impressive as the last, with wins over the main rivals, some superb performances and records broken, to come so close to actually cracking the metaphorical egg and yet fall just short was frustrating, but acceptable.
To sit through a post/pre season polluted by relatively poor performances, ‘˜star’ players being banded around the transfer market, our captain being in court and some unfortunate injuries hampering progress is nothing short of depressing.
Still, this isn’t a cynical article designed to demoralise before the start of the new season, which is one that I genuinely believe could be ours. After all, from what I can remember of watching pre-season friendlies over the last decade or so, a poor performance has tended to coincide with a good start to the league. Take our barnstorming start to 2003 as an example, and I’ll remind you of a certain Bruno Cheyrou who in fairness, did look remarkably like the ‘˜new Zidane’ during those precious, early minutes of no-pressure football.
Rather, I would like to focus this piece on Mr.Alonso and his imminent departure to Real Madrid. Much has been said about the transfer already, and I am determined not to mow cut grass here, so will get straight to the point.
Sure, Xabi wants to play for Real. It’s understandable; a home-town club that is building/buying something ‘˜special’ and players have left Liverpool for far less commendable reasons than this in the past.
Scrap talk of him holding a grudge against Rafa for last season’s apparent ‘˜ousting’ to top clubs in favour of Barry, though, and even if you do give this credence I’d challenge the ‘˜hard-done-by’ factor in favour of rationality for a second.
We at LFC pride ourselves on having players that will sweat blood for the shirt. We’ve come up short so many times on so many occasions over the last two decades but I think we can all be proud of the fact that generally speaking we have attempted to build our club with dedicated, hard-working, loyal players who may not be the spectacular world-beaters that Â£30m+ spending clubs can boast, but we’re getting back up there, slowly but surely.
What disappoints me the most is that Xabi, who is held in such high regard as an intelligent footballer, hard worker and consummate professional, seems to be lacking a certain little voice inside his head:
‘œThis club I’ve been at for five years, whose fans have shown me nothing but encouragement and respect, are a whisker away from winning the most revered league in the world after two decades. I’m an important part of that jigsaw; I have to see this out’¦’
Where is that voice Xabi? Did you lose your love for LFC after Rafa’s ‘˜lack of respect’ for you at the end of 2008? If so, should the fans and the club suffer for that? Do they not mean more to you? The same could be said of Masc, who will hopefully stay, but his silence throughout the Barcelona affair suggests that he would be happy to leave should the opportunity present itself.
What happened to the pride and passion of playing for this club? Two players who gave their all and could barely ever be criticised for their performances since their arrival, who have been worshipped by the fans in recognition of such, seem to ultimately have such little loyalty, it makes me wonder exactly where this game is going.
Perhaps this summer signifies a sea-change in football. It started with Chelsea, and with more and more clubs willing to splash the cash, and more and more excuses being given for leaving that ‘˜aren’t to do with the money’, it seems increasingly unlikely that Gerrard/Carragher style players will make it through 10 years at their boyhood club if they ever reach the heady-heights of being considered ‘˜world-class’. It is a sad state of affairs for sure, and not even what is arguably one of the top two club-teams in the world football (Manchester United, alongside Barcelona at present) can keep their star player, so what hope is there for the rest?
So, in conclusion, bye-bye Xabi, and best of luck to you at Real. I hope you don’t get left on the bench nearly as often as I fear you might, and I hope you don’t miss being adored as much as you were by the Kop.
But for the Mighty Reds, it’s onwards and upwards. Thankfully we have a superb, canny manager and one that I am convinced will take us to the league title and beyond, so I am not too concerned about our future on the back of Xabi leaving. I am just saddened by the fact that certain players, who fans have taken to their hearts, would show such apparent disregard for the clubs that have made them who they are, and for the fans that pay their wages.