Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…

By Aitch

What kind of Liverpool fan are you?
Take offense at my audacity if you please… but that’s what I honestly need to ask of you.

Before I get into it… let me reiterate something I’ve stated in the past… my flag, nailed clearly to the mast on said issue…
These guys get paid a lot of money to play football. They get to do it for the “Greatest Team the World Has Ever Seen” and with that comes the adulation, the supermodels, the Ferraris… so for fucks sake… play football will youz?
All that is required of them is to show up for practice 4 hours per day and play 90 minutes of footy twice a week… and for that they get paid the equivalent of a very good yearly salary… weekly!
If you don’t have two feet… practice it.
If you don’t have a corner or a free kick in your arsenal… practice it.
If you can’t read the game… get a fuckin tutor and see if you can’t get up to at least rudimentary “cat in the hat” game reading level.
It is your chosen trade… one we’d all love to be able to ply… so don’t take your good fortune for granted, and better whatever natural ability you came into this world with, for the love of God, Mike or Whoever!

The players have a responsibility to the shirt, to the club, but mostly, to the fans.
I’m not going to go any further into the players’ individual and collective abilities, performances, mentality, whatever….
… suffice to say, they need to do some looking into the same mirror… and ask of themselves… some very serious questions.

Now having said that… let’s get to OUR part in “this great fiasco” that has become following LFC.

I’ve been traveling a lot this last month, and was armed only with a poxy 10inch netbook, which in a nailed on imitation of a Chelsea player under Villas Boas, decided it simply was not going to work with Kopblog.

Just as well really… the responses I would likely have typed to some of the comments, had I been able to log in, would surely have seen me stripped of my temporary blogger status faster than Andy Carrol can beat two players, round the keeper, then fall over for no apparent reason.

I would most certainly have alienated a few people had I been able to type the responses I wanted when occasionally checking in to read Kopblog these past weeks.

I guess it was a good thing I was unable to login… things get put into stark perspective when suddenly LB with whom I’ve largely agreed in the past, is ranting and railing against the machine, and Digger with whom I’ve so often disagreed, is the one calling for a calm even handed approach?

I’ve titled this blog “Mirror Mirror” coz I’ve been dismayed at some of the opinions and attitudes of a large section of our fanbase…
… not just in Kopblog, but in other forums, and even in Liverpool itself…
…it reminds me too much of the final year under Rafa Benitez, when to some, everything was his fault…
…despite people like FatScouser consistently warning that there was more to the situation than met the eye…
… despite many providing the context for the situation…
…then he was gone… and the truth began to emerge… and the sudden realization of what had really been going on, became public.
…and now those same people are pointing their bony fingers Kenny’s way.

We were relieved beyond description when NESN stepped in and finally wrenched the club from the cold dead hands of a pair of Cowboys.
Our nightmare was over, and we stared into the sunrise of a brave new dawn.

…Except the nightmare wasn’t over.
Freddie had been ripping and slashing his way through our Dream for too many years, for it all to be over in a flash.

I simply cannot help myself from laughin at the idea… the very notion … that some of our fanbase actually want to compare Kenny Dalglish to Roy Hodgson.
Staggering doesn’t even begin to describe it.
And such opinions lead me to only one conclusion….I can’t help but subscribe to the feeling that we simply aren’t investing enough money into special needs education.

Let’s clear that little nugget up right now.
If G&H hadn’t completely destroyed the club… if their CEO wasn’t a bonafide Championship Manager addict… Roy Hodgson’s name would never have been even remotely associated with a club like LFC… PERIOD.

For any meaningful discussion to take place about where we currently are as a football club to be taken seriously… it must start from the knowledge that we were a sinking ship.
It had been suggested that we were listing under Rafa, and that Roy had been brought in to right the ship.
But that’s just it… It wasn’t Rafa who was causing the list… Rafa didn’t drive us into the Iceberg… G&H and Purslow did.
Rafa… as it turned out… was the only bloke with a bucket, keeping the fuckin thing from sinking.

It had been put to me at the time that Rafa needed to fall on his sword for the good of the club. The fanbase was so split, went the logic that his removal was necessary for us to move forward.
He had lost the dressing room, it was suggested.
Well in hindsight (and not that I’m always right, but I made this suggestion at the time) maybe it was the fuckin dressing room that should have been shitcanned?
(after all, most of it has been anyway now.)

If… and it is now an even bigger IF… Rafa did have to go…. then Roy Hodgson should never have even been considered as his replacement… it was like hiring someone who had once sat in seat 12C on a Ryan Air flight from Liverpool to Dublin, to pilot a 747 from Manchester to New York.
And that’s not hindsight… I had that argument when he was simply an ill-advised rumor.

I bring this up because there is criticism being leveled at those of us who continue to vehemently support Kenny Dalglish… that we did not afford the same support to Roy.
What I will say to that, is this… while there were those misguided souls who did allow themselves to be convinced Roy was a good choice in the summer of 2010…
…those of us not in special needs programs… who knew better, didn’t want him in the fuckin first place…
… the 2 situations do not compare…
… in any way, shape, or form.

So now to where we are…
Languishing in a very unacceptable 8th place, with Everton 1 point above us.

…and what I’d like to say about that comes straight from that which is supposed to be our anthem, our blood oath in a way…
“When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high, and don’t be afraid of the dark…”

Well we in a storm of biblical proportions my fellow reds… and frankly…
…well, some of you are holding your heads low and cowering in the dark.

I’m sorry if that offends some of the delicate sensibilities out there, if it is somehow an affront to the opinions you all claim such right to.
…but there it is.
The words speak for themselves… they speak for us as a fanbase, always have…
….and so do our actions.

“…hold your head up high, and don’t be afraid of the dark…”
maybe the players aren’t doing that… but too many of our fanbase sure as steaming shite aren’t doing it either.

There has been much discussion about what is good enough and not good enough for a club like Liverpool.
…discussion about the quality, or lack thereof, of its players, its manager, its coaching staff.
… discussion about roles of its manager, director of football, owners.

There was an interesting comment on the last edition of The Anfield Wrap, that went something along the lines of …
“I’d rather have one player on 100k per week, than 2 players on 60k per week”
…which sort of ignores the players we did have on 100k per week last season…
… you know… like Joe Cole, or Jovanovic.
… no matter how bad Downing, Henderson and Adam have been this season, we’ve gotten far more out of them than we ever got out of Cole and Jovanovic…
… and that’s before you get into Konchesky and Poulsen.

Too many seem to want to completely ignore the almost total rebuild that took place in the summer.
As I mentioned above… the perspective we must judge this season on is that Kenny Dalglish did not take over the reins of a “stable club”.

Sure it looked stable… with its silver-haired fox of an owner and his foxy raven-haired companion.
Such glamour gave us back a gloss that the runtish troll and his Texan ork had long since rubbed off.
The club had been systematically stripping itself of its best assets for a number of years, and replacing them with journeymen who sounded good on paper, but who in practice were anything but.
Out went Alonso, in came Poulsen… Out went Rafa, in came Hodgson.
…(and some of you wonder where the stormy clouds and darkness come from?)

FSG did the right thing when they fired Hodgson… even if it was 4 months too late.
He should never have been given the job in the first place.
And they did the right thing when they hired Kenny to take his place… well, not really his place, but Rafa’s… Hodgson had been nothing other than a placeholder really …only keeping the seat warm.
Barring a Rafa return (largely judged as populistly impossible) there were few names that could realistically have been considered.
You have to remember the names seriously associated to us… Hodgson, O’Neill, Jol… Christ even Curbishley at one point???
You think we’re seeing mid-table mediocrity at LFC now?

Nah… Kenny Dalglish was in some ways… the only choice.
What Kenny then had to do was completely rebuild the first team and its subsequent squad.
18 players left the club last summer. EIGHTEEN!
And only 1 could really be judged as a mistake.

Its pretty easy to judge this season as a failure… 8th place should never be accepted as good enough for LFC.
But where most people go wrong, is assuming that it IS being accepted as good enough by anyone… in the fanbase, or at the club.

But… It is no longer August.
Where we are right now, as Carling Cup Winners, is in 8th place… a place you win nothing for.
4th place has been out of reach for a while, and there is no real tangible benefit from finishing 7th… except to usurp Everton
… or even finishing 6th… since Europa League Football is assured.
The financial difference between finishing 7th and 12th is negligible.
So while I would prefer to not see us finish below Everton, or any lower than our current 8th, I really don’t give a fuck where we finish this season… it is what it is and essentially, its done already.
What is important now, is not our league position… we’ve avoided relegation… so concentrate on the FA Cup.
Its all or nothing in that competition now.
(even more so given our semi-final opponents.)

Does that indicate an acceptance of mediocrity?
No of course not… just an acceptance of our current reality.
Where we finish (caveat being above Everton) shouldn’t matter now… what should is beating Everton in the semi and then winning the final… to use a poker term… ALL IN.

In that regards… it has been suggested that LFC is now a mid-table team.
Technically, we are in 8th place, so….
… but I simply can’t subscribe to that.
If we were, we’d be happy as pigs in shite at the one piece of silverware we do have, and not really arsed about anything else… that’s what mid-table clubs are.

(I can hear some people already typing that I’ve just argued against myself… I haven’t. I’m not arsed about finishing 6th or 7th or 8th, coz it will do nothing to enhance our reputation… but in order to win the FA Cup, we’d have to beat Chelsea or Spurs in the final and that will enhance our reputation… we might not be in the CL, but beating CL teams gives the impression that we are “ON THE UP” and therefore makes us attractive to better players… who at the end of the day care about 2 things, and 2 things only, enhancing their bank balance, and enhancing their medal collection.)

While we currently sit 8th, we have finished 5th once and 6th once in the past 8 years… all other seasons saw us finish in the top 4…
…and in that time, we have won 1 Champions League, 1 FA Cup, 1 Carling Cup, appeared in 1 other CL Final, and Carling Final, and 2 CL Semi-Finals…
… is that really the definition of a mid-table club?

“Yeah, but what have you done for me lately,” I hear the Janet Jackson’s of the fanbase hollering from the rooftops.
There is no doubt that a 6th place finish and a potential “8th place” finish are an indication of going in the wrong direction…. And if we had been a stable club, I’d be willing to entertain such an idea…
… but we haven’t been a stable club for a very long time.

“The ‘Buy British’ policy isn’t working” is another vociferous complaint… as though this is going to be a long-term strategy, rather than simply the first step in what was a large-scale rebuilding plan, one that we’ve only seen the first stages of, and that will continue to take place over the coming transfer windows.

You think the price of English players is stupid now?
Just wait for UEFA’s minimum home grown quotas to kick in this summer…
City, Arsenal, Chelsea and even Spurs are all gonna have to go out and buy English players to meet quota…
… while our summer buys haven’t pulled up any stumps this season… they may very well look like bargains and good business soon… especially if one or two of them recover from first season syndrome… like soooo many players do… and deliver even just a few of the goods next season… albeit from the bench after being replaced in the first team by the quality Euro players I now expect our policy to concentrate on..
They haven’t pulled up stumps, but we’ve seen glimpses of talent there… remember Lucas and resist the urge to rush to judgment.

I have nailed my colours to the mast on this before… 4th place is nowhere.
4th place is important solely for the financial consideration of Champions League qualification (well the chance to qualify for qualifiers.)
Rather than being seen as success, I’ve always viewed a 4th place finish as the least acceptable failure.
…But 4th is beyond us now, and I’ll save my recriminations for the summer.
Where my opinion lies at that time, regarding our final Premier League place, will largely depend on the result of the semi-final, and should we prevail, the result of the subsequent final.

So I’m amazed that given the choice, some would take a poxy nothing of a 4th place finish, for which you win fuck all but a tentative entry ticket, over hardcast, shiny, paraded on open topped busses, Silverware.

I don’t care if it’s the Carling Cup, the FA Cup, or a fuckin autographed Tea Cup…
…Liverpool Football Club is in the business of winning trophies.

In the past, you had to be the best and beat the best to win things….
… with today’s structure of qualifiers and league positions… that is no longer the case.
There are now DEGREES of Success and Failure…
… did anyone else notice how the Europa League suddenly became a “big trophy” that Man United took seriously… for about 2.5 seconds until they got shafted out of that one too.
Interestingly, the only team that didn’t embarrass itself in Europe this year is Chelsea.
Spurs may be able to offer CL footy, but do they offer a realistic chance to win the bitch?
Europe is not, contrary to popular belief, everything.
Yes its important, but it drives too much.

We’ve won 1 Trophy already…
…and to do so, we had to beat the teams currently in 1st place and 2nd place…

….A 2nd Trophy beckons…
… and to win that, we will have to beat the current 7th place team, and then either the current 4th or 5th place team… all teams above us.

And if we can do so… and that open-top bus parades the cups around the city…
I’ll bet you money, right here, right now, that more people would turn out to see it… than do so to see the Scum parade another Title.
(the only thing that bothers me about that is that many of them would be the same knife wielding fuckers who’ve been bitching and moaning about wanting Kenny out… surely they should be staying home, no?)

It was suggested that if things keep going the way they are, that there will only be 30,000 people watching games at Anfield.
Well to the other 14,000 I say this…
The exits are clearly marked, feel free to put yer LFC Merch on eBay and fuck right off!
You’re low-held head won’t be missed.
… and when you get home, take a long look in the mirror, and ask yourself what kind of Chelsea/City/BarcaTeam-du-jour fan you want to be.
But don’t bother letting us know the answer to that puzzler… coz frankly the rest of us won’t give a fuck…
… you’ll be walking alone, the 30,000 will “NEVER WALK ALONE”

So for all those suggesting that this season has been a failure, I suggest you calm the fuck down and take a deep breath… at least until we’ve seen just exactly how things pan out.
Then maybe we can have a reasonable discussion (though I doubt it :) )

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