After many trying months of following Liverpool Football Club I found myself feeling extremely down with the inconsistent form of the side and a series of cringeworthy press conferences and interviews. A team trying to find purpose but showing no confidence and a Manager feted by the chummie London Media.
The media spun it so that all seemed right in the summer when Christian Purslow introduced Roy Hodgson, the winner of the LMA Manager of the year for the 2009/2010 Season as the new Manager of Liverpool Football Club. At the time giving him the benefit of the doubt was the feeling. We listened to the ‘wise words’ in the printed press that Roy Hodgson would be the Manager to turn the fortunes around after such a terrible season under the guidance of Rafa Benitez. The perfect ‘fall guy’ (if ever there was one) for all that was wrong with the team. Benitez, a manager who also arrived at Liverpool with the club having endured a bad season under the guidance of the then Manager Gerard Houiller.
In my opinion David Moores and Rick Parry called this one right appointing Rafa Benitez to lead Liverpool forward. We all know what happened next – an unbelievable roller coaster ride where you actually didn’t want to get off! Culminating in what will always be the best Champions League Match ever. But please, remember Rafa was a ‘bad Manager’, of course I am being sarcastic here – I liked Rafa – I don’t mind admitting it. The man wasn’t a product of the boot room and had no allegiance to the club through his past, but he ‘got Liverpool’ he understood the fans. He realised our dream and the ambition for success.
I think he has been an easy target for the media to point the finger and say all this is Rafa’s fault! Far too easy. A cop out of the highest order. Liverpool had been plodding along with performances that would have merited a C+ at best and this was all before Rafa Benitez ever turned up at Melwood. He was too busy masterminding winning La Liga with a team not from the power bases of either Madrid or Barcelona. Still with me? I hope so.
So Rafa had gone after a bad season – the team were in a dreadful state. Roy Hodgson had inherited a poor squad… Hang on a minute!! Has some one erased the fact the almost the same team had just come 2nd to Manchester United the season before? The London focused media have very short memories. But like I mentioned Rafa Benitez is an easy target. Our rivals joke ‘he’s just a fat Spanish Waiter’ but wow, what a waiter! Serving up victories against Juventus, Real Madrid, Barcelona and not forgetting a perfect aperitif with the victory against Olympiakos and a runner up spot in the league – thats not even mentioning winning the Champions League in 2005 and getting to the final again 2 years later – oh and the matter of the best FA Cup final ever.
But I haven’t mentioned the true architects of Liverpool’s dramatic fall from grace. Ladies and Gentleman I give you Mr George Gillett from Colorado and his partner in crime Mr Thomas Hicks from the Yeehaah State of Texas. Parry and Moores were in advanced talks with DIC before Gillett pipes up with an offer as well as bringing Hicks on board to propel his bid ahead of the current bid from DIC. This of course was a time bomb just waiting to go off. I will always hold David Moores accountable for allowing those two clowns in. All for what?! A better share offer to swell his own personal wealth at the cost of the club he professes to love. He tried to make amends writing an open letter that appeared in The Times. Sorry Mr Moores, the horse had already bolted the ‘O.K. Corral’.
Rafa Benitez tried to make the best of a bad lot (in respect of the owners and board). The Americans made brash wild statements about ‘spades in the turf at Stanley Park’ they ripped up the previous ‘Reebok Stadium’ style plans and put their own American based architects to the task of wasting millions of pounds on fanciful pie in the sky dreams. As the clock ticked Rafa got more weary at the false promises and then the internal war of words between Hicks and Gillett plunged the club into internal civil war – yet with all this going on Rafa manages to take the team to 2nd place in the league. He proposes transfer targets to the board only to see them never to materialise. This lack of backing Rafa after taking LFC to second would always come back to bite him. Which it did, a series of injuries to Torres showed the lack of depth in the squad. At a time when he should have been backed to the tune of £50 to £70 million, they gave him peanuts. From the start of the 2009 season Rafa was always going to struggle to build on the success of the runners up spot. He asked for another Table – this time he didn’t even get a Lamp Shade – just an empty card board box. False promises and hot air from Hicks & Gillett whose only intention was to bleed the club of cash.
Which brings us back to our pre-season saviour St Roy. LMA Manager of the Year, runner up in the previous seasons Europa Cup! Yes, I know, Runner Up. Not winner. Just runner up. That’s good enough for Liverpool Football Club. If he had that success with Fulham imagine what he could do with the keys to Anfield!?
The press all fell in behind Roy Hodgson and commented how awful it was that he only had 6 months at Liverpool and wasn’t able to put ‘his stamp’ on the team! Crikey to even contemplate what his stamp might have been sends shivers down my spine. He didn’t get ‘us’. His tactics were negative, he was publicly slating our players (i.e Glen Johnson) the new style of play was leaving Torres looking like an isolated figure more akin to him walking to North Pole on his own with no sign off support for miles around. Yet we were continually reminded that Roy Hodgson was the LMA manager of the year and should be given time – no one ever mentioned the curse of the Manager of the month, who usually has to endure (after winning it the previous month) a serious of losses or draws at best. So imagine the curse for the Manager of the year – dreadful form, one decent signing in 3 and a world class striker who was looking to board the next Iberia Flight out of the UK. Falling attendances soon followed and this being a ‘bums on seats’ industry it wasn’t going unnoticed across the pond in Boston that all was not well in L4.
To the everyday Liverpool fan/supporter this was a nightmare! A total nightmare. As if we’d all eaten copious amounts of cheese and had the worst start ever for over 50 years. Losing to Northampton Town and a run of further losses to Blackpool and Wolves at home, being picked off away at ease by the ‘splash the cash’ Team of the moment in Manchester. Followed by a loss to your bitter rivals and a lack of support for your star striker whose criticised by your best mate (who happens to manage said bitter rival) in the post match press conference. Ahhh it’s great to support Liverpool under the guidance of Roy LMA Manager of the Year Hodgson we all thought (sarcasm their).
But don’t forget we are all wrong – and as fans we should back our Manager.
That’s like us (the fans) knowing we have painful toothache but are told you should just put up with it and it will get better and go away! Only for us to know it was only going to get worse and more painful! Until finally, FSG donned their Dental outfit and removed offending tooth (Manager) and as we all know when you have a painful tooth removed relief immediately follows and this was felt around Liverpool – well around the world – as all Liverpool fans realised that Roy Hodgson had to go. Unlike Rafa he didn’t get the Liverpool Fans only serving to alienate us more with ill made comments about ‘Never having the famous Anfield Support’. It has to be earned at Liverpool.
As fans, we were calling out for Kenny Dalglish to return – and luckily our voices were heard. Martin Samuel in the Daily Mail writes about how giving in to the whims of the supporters was the wrong thing to do and FSG should have stuck with Roy Hodgson. Sorry? The owners should stick with the incumbent manager and ignore the thoughts of the fans? I think Martin Samuel really does underestimate the breadth of knowledge that a fan of Liverpool football club has. The sacking of Roy Hodgson had to be done.
Even if it didn’t fall into line with the timeline that FSG had drawn up. Action was taken and Kenny Dalglish was asked to step in to take the reigns to the end of the season. Two losses and a draw have been a tough return to the Anfield hot seat for Dalglish. But if you were looking to someone, anyone to turn the tide of disappointment at Liverpool, who better than Kenny Dalglish.