Will The Real Slim Shady Please Stand Up?

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By Aitch

We should be talking about football right now.
We should be discussing who played well, who didn’t.
We should be discussing what went right against Arsenal, and where it all went wrong.
We should be discussing how what seemed to be an utterly overhyped signing in the form of the promising Joe Allen, is actually starting to look like a masterstroke in the form of a Joe Allen who in being referred to as “the poor man’s Xabi Alonso” has read such comparisons and thought “I’ll show you poor man’s Xabi, you fuckers.”

That’s what we should be discussing…
There are certainly a lot of things to talk about, but I’m left with the overriding feeling that “the big issue” is simply, squarely, once again (for fucks sake) the ownership of Liverpool Football Club.

Now there are lots of little details in and among the events of the past few days that people are getting all hung up on, and it seems, from reading on other forums especially, that there is now little doubt left, that “The Great Unification of the Fanbase” that had supposedly taken place when Kenny Dalglish was appointed to his second term as our Manager, has now been demolished like so many Liverpool inner-city buildings.

In a recent blog, I asked a series of questions of our owners… and it kicked up a bit of a fuss.
I don’t think the majority of those questions have been answered… and worse still… the events of the last 7 days have opened an American “can of whoop ass” sized list of additional questions.

Those entirely exasperated by the owners, are shouting loudly about the utter betrayal of not stumping 6 or 7 million for a “proven premiership goalscorer”…
…while those who feel the need to leap to the defense of our owners, have trotted out phrases like “what do you want a sugar-daddy owner”? …and regurgitating comments about FFP …in defense of the seeming “refusal” to spend 7 million… not 35, not 20, not even 17… but 7 million on Clint Dempsey.

The Clint Dempsey “saga” is just one incident under the current owners that has one hell of a lot of nuts and bolts for people to discuss, argue about, agree/disagree about…
Is Dempsey worth 7 million?
Is he worth 4million, or 10 million?
Is he a proven goalscorer?
Would he or would he not have guaranteed us 12 goals, 15 goals, 20 goals, this season?
Would he have made a difference against Arsenal?
They’re interesting points to debate…
…I had such a debate with a Yank mate in June… yes that’s right… not 4 days ago as a clock ticked down, but in June… when we were first rumoured (read: actually fuckin announced on LFC.tv for several hours, that we’d bought him… in June) as being interested in him (and at the time the rumour suggested 10 million)
… I argued at that time that Dempsey wasn’t a top draw striker… he would have been a great addition (he cost Fulham 1.5 mill by the way) when all we had was Nando and Ngog… but as long as he didn’t cost us something like 10 or 12 million, and could be gotten for a reasonable price (I’d have accepted him at 6-7mill as a good buy, now proven in the prem and all that,) then he would still be a good addition to the squad.

…but for my money, that is all smoke and mirrors that prevents any real discussion of OUR (the clubs and the fans) current situation.
So to that end… I’m going to try to cut through the clutter with what I think are “a few” underlying issues…

This week, in response to the “transfer window backlash”, the Owners issued an “open letter to fans”.
Some read it and found solace.
Some read it and immediately reached for their blood pressure meds (or pitch forks as the case may be.)
Me… I read it and simply smiled … coz what the fuck else can you do with that fucker?
Here’s what I mean.

While I’m not a marketing guy, I’ve had a lot of experience working with marketing and pr people, even written some marketing and pr text myself as part of certain jobs I’ve had…. And THAT letter was your typical PR/M gobbeldy-speak.
It said something, while it said nothing.
It made promises, while making no promises.
It explained “mistakes” while not at all explaining any mistakes.

If the jury was out on the owners before that letter… how is it not completely fuckin sequestered in the Hilton now.

Pro Owners… Anti Owners… its all bullshit… that letter was designed to speak squarely to the fans sitting on the fence… the undecided voter, if you will…
… it was calm, it was calculated, it read reasonable.
Look past it and ask the questions that need to be asked.

Was Brendan “promised” Dempsey, or any forward?
Who was negotiating said deal? (for a player we “supposedly signed” back in June)
Begging the question, why was his singing left to the last day?
Why exactly did it break down?
Was it for the sake of 2 million? A not-made phone call?
Or was there much more to ALL of this.

See, here’s what I want to know…
As far back as June, Brendan Rodgers was talking about every player having his price.
He never once said that Andy “Couldn’t fit into “the BR System”.
He never once said that Andy “Wouldn’t fit into “the BR System”.
He never once said he didn’t rate Andy.
He never once said he didn’t want Andy.
All he said was “Every player has his price, and Andy is no different.”

Now admittedly, I hated this. I made comment to that effect. I suggested at the time, that it was the one mistake Brendan made since his arrival.
But now I’m left wondering… was Andy’s “sale” always on the cards?
Was part of Brendan’s hiring agreement simply, sure you can have say over players, but not Andy, he’s got to go no matter what?
I dunno. That IS speculation on my part.
But following Brendan’s, “I’d have kept him if I’d known” statement, I just can’t help escape the feeling that all his statements about Andy having his price were not a mistake from a naïve manager at all…
…. but perhaps those statement were a calmer “I’m just concentrating on coaching my team”, “Rafa Rant” moment?
I dunno… but there’s definitely more to this.

Brendan has spoken on it.
FSG have written about it.
Ian Ayre appears to have taken the blue pill and disappeared down the fucken rabbit hole, where he’s perhaps currently getting his arse handed to him by Agent Smith.
Something happened here… and we are no closer to the truth after “the letter” than before it was written.

Trust them?
I did, and they’re eroding it with almost every action they take, almost every statement they make.

Now this is the point at which their defenders will suggest I’m an advocate of “The Liverpool Way” and that most treasured long since dead aspect of it… not airing our dirty laundry in public.
Fair enough… except, the more they keep saying one thing and doing another… we’ve got problems.
FSG said they are afficianados of Pay As You Play and Soccernomics… which both posit that recent PL success has been directly tied to having a high wage bill…
… yet, they “demand” the culling of 18 players to “reduce the wage bill” from an already thin squad replacing them with only 7 players.
We didn’t get rid of a single player making 125k per week… but signed Sahin who was making 125k at real Madrid. At the time, it was reported we sealed the deal by agreeing to pay “almost all of his weekly wage”. But now that’s being walked back and we are “not paying all of his weekly wage”. What’s the truth?
None of our business?
Fair enough, keep it behind closed doors… but not if your writing open letters to fans claiming FFP and the continuation of “G&H’s outrageous wage bill” reduction.
You opened the door, you can’t then slap us for looking in.
Conversely to these two ideas, FSG made big noises about implementing “moneyball” at LFC. They hired Damien Comolli to implement it. And they stated that they were in it for the long haul.
Yet at the first sign of “moneyball” failing, or not quite working to plan, they abandoned it lock, stock and barrel.

… or did they???
Coz supposedly, Brendan Rodgers condition of employment was the scrapping of the DoF plan, and the implementation of some TBD committee, headed by Brendan and in which he would have final say…
… which simply does not jive with what we’ve been told, not by dubious press sources, but by their own statements, with what we know about Andy’s exit, and the subsequent failure to replace him.

We don’t know what really happened… and frankly from what I’ve read, the more we’ve learned about “what happened” in the last few days, the LESS we actually know about WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED?????

Saying you want to succeed, in a Pay As You Play League, does not jive with only providing a net spend of about 40 million, then 20 million though…
… especially while continuing to cull more players than you bring in to an already dangerously thin first team and squad.
They sanction a Pay As You Play, 35million pound deal for Andy Carroll, then seemingly squash a Moneyball/Soccernomics 7 million deal for Clint Dempsey…
I’m sorry but your actions DO NOT match your words.

As long as they keep saying they are here to win, then fire a manager who actually did win the first trophy since 2007…
As long as they keep saying they back their manager 100 %, then fire that manager…
…Then replace that manger… under a new system(?) … restating their backing, then leave that guy twisting in the wind over the singing of a player he clearly wanted… seemingly at the last minute, but in actual fact, not at the last minute, since we clearly courted him for over 2 months…
… then wax vacuous about Financial Fair Play, and not breaking the bounds of Responsible Finance… when in fact (supposedly?) the breakdown difference over Dempsey was between a fee of 4 and 6 million… while selling 7million Charlie Adam to Stoke for 4 million, when at least 2 other clubs were interested in him…
…simply does not jive.

Yeah… how come there is so little discussion out there about the fact that for all the fees paid for failed players… one of the few purchase prices Comolli got even close to right was Charlie Adam at 7 million. The lad might not be “Liverpool Quality” but are you seriously telling me we couldn’t have got our money back on him?
Was that 4 million as much as anyone was going to pay?
And that’s 3 million… how much was the disparity of the Dempsey deal again?

In the interest of fairness…
As a business… FSG have most certainly “saved us”.
The financial condition of the club, is growing ever closer to the days prior to when Rick Parry and David Moores ended the meeting with several “gentlemen of Arabic decent” by whispering sweet nothings into each others ears about how there were two Yanks outside the boardroom offering them matching Ferraris…
… and the marketing and financial sponsorship appear to be much improved from those days, making future accounting very favourable… and greatly improving on the sound condition we once enjoyed.

Kudos. Big Thanks. We … each and every one of us… Appreciate it.
Honestly, we do.
But unfortunately it doesn’t… it simply cannot… stop there.
… that act… since it was not performed out of any altruism, (they didn’t “save us”, they bought an asset on the cheap) but out of pure unadulterated business acumen… that act was the easy part.
Doing business. What they know and are supposedly good at.

They are business men… they saw the potential… the potential Parry never seemed to, yet almost every LFC fan who’d never even so much as taken a fuckin O-level let alone accumulated any, could see with their eyes shut… and they’ve set about “tapping that financial arse” like a Rapper in a Music Video.
Was that racist?

What FSG did was buy into a “Sports Franchise”…
…an under-marketed but highly marketable “Global Brand” for sure…
… but in a sport they knew nothing about…
…in a league they knew nothing about…
…in a country they knew little about…
…in a town with a history… and… with a history of creating that history in a “different way”.
Now yes… I can hear some of you now, accusing me of waxing poetically lyric… no question… admit it… you got me… doesn’t make every point there less true though.

Because, the business that Liverpool is in, is playing football and winning at it…
…so there was a steep, steep learning curve for them…
Some will suggest that they have “learned from their mistakes” hence all the firings and such… but honestly, all I’m seeing is reaction not learning…
… and frankly… of the same knee-jerk variety that many fans are accused of.

I strongly suspect that Ian Ayre will fall on the sword for “Friday’s failure”.
There is already a groundswell of blame pointing in his direction, so it’ll be an easy “fix” for FSG to suggest they put everything in place, and Ayre dropped the ball…
Maybe he fucked up…
Maybe he was sent into a gunfight with a rolled up newspaper…
…and…
Maybe, he shouldn’t have had those responsibilities in the first place…
…who the fuck knows?
Where we may not, someone does.

We don’t know exactly what the truth is.
Maybe there is more to it all than there appears to be?
There probably is.

… but there are now more questions, or there should be anyway, about FSG and their statements and actions than there was 1 week ago, than there was 3 months ago, 8 months ago, hell even 22 months ago, when they were called NESV???

Having undergone a LOT of interviews lately, I’m perhaps more recently reminded that when you interview for a job, one of the first questions the interviewer is going to ask is “tell us a little bit about your experience, and how you think that experience will help you in this position?”

FSG’s answer to that question was, to put it simply… “The Boston Red Sox”.
You all know the story, so I won’t go into it.
The cliff notes, for those just tuning in…
Boston were a 20year also-ran baseball club. Steeped in tradition. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. The wallflower, bespectacled brunette, constantly living in the shadow of her popular, fit-as-fuck, 34DD Blonde friend.
But along came the handsome gray haired bachelor, who as luck would have it, was also very rich, and within 2 years, the wallflower was now Angelina Jolie as Mrs Smith, judo kicking The Yankees Brad Pitt into a wall and quipping “who’s your daddy now?”

Fuck me… sign me up… where do I get my John Henry bumper sticker, lapel pin, collector card, and I’ll take one of them Tom Werner pennants as well please luv.
Come on… we all said it. :)

But a slightly closer look at that story… you know, the one with more detail than the cliff notes… shows us 2 guys who’d owned sports clubs prior to the Red Sox, and with far less spectacular results… in fact… those clubs are still drinking their Cosmos at the end of the bar waiting for “the man of their dreams”.
And the Red Sox, well they’re not doing so great at the moment by all reports either?

But what was the actual story of “The Boston Red Sox” though.
A lad named Billy Beane had an idea.
He was a Baseball guy, was Billy. He played it as a kid, as a teenager, and, as a young man he got the chocolate bar with the golden ticket. The tour of the Chocolate Factory didn’t quite go as planned though, but while many a man is broken by such things, Billy stuck to it, stayed in Baseball, and eventually became General Manager of the Oakland A’s

I will disclaim at this point, that I hate baseball. I don’t get it.
Oddly though… I do quite like Baseball movies. …Field of Dreams, Bull Durham, For The Love of The Game, (NO… it is not merely a strangely homo-erotic addiction to Kevin Costner) The Natural, The Scout, the 3 Major League movies (well maybe not the 3rd), hell even Summer Catch, which I’m fully convinced the Director only really made so he could see Jessica Biehl in short shorts every day, and have that one day, re-shooting take after take, of her getting out of that pool in a wet t-shirt. (it’s the only thing that makes any sense. That’s what I’d have done… hell I’d still be shooting take 5 million and 2, “just a little to the left this time Jess and drop your shoulder” and making history as the most over-budget film in history…) …but I digress…
My point is simply that there will be others who know more details of the baseball side of this story… but again, as the story continues… cliff notes version again, mind you…

Billy had an idea. It went against everything everyone in Baseball “knew”. It became known as Moneyball… and while he gave it a good go, and came close to proving everyone in baseball wrong… it failed.
John Henry saw what Billy was doing, found it interesting and offered him a lot of money to try again… this time without hindrance and with the full support he never got at the A’s… but Billy wanted to do it at the A’s.
Commendable actually, in a world where money talks… but worth noting, when the idea of moneyball gets discussed… that he is still trying… at the A’s… unsuccessfully!
But Henry… undaunted… copied Billy… took his “moneyball” idea… implemented it at Boston… and it worked… twice.

Now all this recap of Boston is important WHY?
Well for one very simple reason.
John Henry knew Baseball. So did Werner.
They grew up on it, played it as kids and teenagers, maybe even as young adults, I dunno, but they followed the sport all their lives and knew the game… much as we do footy.
As I said, I don’t get baseball, I wouldn’t know the first thing about how to coach a baseball team… but I have very successfully coached youth footy teams.
And therein lies the rub…

In October 2010 …with their copy of “moneyball” under one arm, and a fistful of dollars in the other, they bought Liverpool Football Club with the idea of replicating their success at Boston.
It was a big risk… simply because in addition to not knowing if “moneyball” would work in the English Premier League, let alone in football in general… they had no idea how the sport worked, how UEFA worked, how the EPL worked…
…more importantly what Footy was all about…
…and perhaps even more importantly, what Liverpool Football Club was all about… and what following LFC was all about.

It was always going to be a big risk….
…And honestly from where I’ve been sitting… as much as they may have made great strides to right the financial business… they have simply made one mistake after another in trying to run the Club in a “moneyball” manner.
And I say that primarily coz they haven’t stuck to a single idea they’ve implemented… not on the field, and not even off the field.

Are we to believe that cups don’t matter?
That is why Kenny was fired, no?
8th place isn’t good enough… period… no cups in the discussion, the FA Cup wouldn’t have saved his job.
So if that’s the case why did Suarez and SG and several other senior players spend 90 minutes huffing and puffing around Anfield, with a 1-0 lead from the first leg, when they were going to be needed for the “game that mattered” 3 days later?

There are so many more questions than that…
Why … given the club’s recent history… is there a single LFC fan that is not asking them?

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