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“The Culling of 5000 Badgers”

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Somewhere in West Gloucestershire and Sumerset a pilot program has been authorized to kill 70% of the badgers in each area.
“Environment Secretary Owen Paterson told farmers at the National Farmers’ Union conference in Birmingham that he was committed to making sure the pilots went ahead.
He said tackling bovine TB had cost the taxpayer £500 million in the past 10 years, and costs could reach £1 billion over the next decade if the disease was left unchecked.
He said that research in the UK had shown that culling badgers, which can transmit TB to cattle, could reduce the levels of the disease in herds, and that Britain had to learn from experience elsewhere that the tuberculosis could not effectively be curbed without tackling the problem in wildlife.”

So what the fuck does that have to do with LFC??? …I hear you ask.
The Culling of 5000 Badgers would have been a great Album Title for an 80s Heavy Metal Band… but for an LFC Blog?
Maybe I just wanted an excuse to use the word “badgers” in a title?
Maybe “The Culling of 5000 Badgers” was just more interesting than any of the alternative titles I’d thought up?
Maybe… there is actually a parallel for LFC in there somewhere?

If it please the jury, your lordship, I would contend that we’ve been seeing a bit of the old Badger culling going on at Anfield over the last few years…

For “bovine TB” read “lack of success” and it has become a worrisome disease that LFC has responded to by culling: first owners, then executives, then managers and about 5000 players by last count…
… but in the case of LFC… I’d suggest it is the actual culling, rather than the perceived “lack of success” that has been the self-inflicted disease which has “cost the taxpayer (LFC) £500 million in the past 10 years”

Warning! History Lesson Alert!
One of the proposed titles for this blog (prior to stumbling across an excuse to use the word “badger” in a footy blog) was…
“The first rule of Italian Race Car Driving: What’s behind you does not matter.”
(anyone who can name that movie gets a cookie)

Some of you have taken umbridge to my “constantly staring into our past while ignoring the present” and probably quite like the first rule of Italian Race Driving.
…but as a part-time dabbler in History… and while that was one of my fave movies and sayings back when I was the teenage owner of a muscle car, (cookie hint) …I also know that the saying “those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it” is so very, very often true.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…
David Moores owned an LFC that carried a perfectly acceptable and manageable £70 million in debt…
… He sold LFC to A Pair of Cowboys…
…The sale price: £270million
Within 12 months… LFC was £350 million in debt.

… now if Moores had taken out a loan for £270…
… not only could he have paid for the construction of a new stadium…
… but that loan would be mostly paid off now…
… and with Rafa still at the helm, I’d argue we’d be considerably better off on the field as well. (certainly no worse off than Arsenal… the trophyless, Top 4 Benchmark?)

Instead… Moores culled himself. Then G&H culled Parry. Then Purslow culled Rafa. Then the Banks culled G&H. Then FSG culled Purslow… then Hodgson… then Kenny…
…and a list of players that ranged from world class to wide-arsed along the way.
…all to the tune of countless millions in defaults, in Architectural drawings, in severance packages, down the drain.
Thus endeth today’s history lesson.

We have a worldwide fanbase and that makes it diverse…
…and as such, the opinions of fans, on any number of LFC topics, are equally diverse.
There used to be a standard though… a benchmark if you will… that established what was acceptable discussion and what was simply “crazy bastard on a sopbox”.
I no longer see that “standard”.
Take offense at that if you will… some will feel compelled to, some will leap to it just to disagree with me.
… but at the very least, that “standard” has been lowered.

When G&H flirted with Klinsman and the news leaked… fans marched on Anfield.
When their financial shenanigans were laid bare, it prompted a fan-based, multi-fronted campaign to oust them that was unprecedented in football.
I doubt that Would have happened at any other club…
I doubt it Could ever happen again at “ours”.

Now that’s not to say “all is lost”… on the contrary… its just to ask the question…
Who and/or what is Liverpool Football Club?
It’s a complex question… that elicits a different response among those who’ve followed the club for 3-5 decades, let alone between those fans and those newer to the club.
(For those who’ve been around a good long while… do you still recognize your club?)

I read a lot of comments around the web about Brendan Rodgers and his “new system of possession football”.
There are those who pointed to the Zenit game and said, “there it is, that’s what we’re building towards”.
… but that wasn’t “death by football”.
What we’ve been playing for about 2 months now, bares little resemblance to the footy we were playing in September and October.
StevieG is launching more Hollywood Balls in any given game lately, than Charlie Adam in a wet dream.

That’s not a slam on Rodgers… just a call for those who feel the need to vehemently support him to do so honestly and fairly. (and likewise for his critics.)

Too many fans have already made up their minds about our current Manager.
I’m at a loss to understand fully where the evidence is to support such a decision…
… on either side of the fence.
We’ve seen his team against Zenit and Swansea, and even both games versus the current Champions, but we’ve also seen them against Aston Villa. We saw them at the start of the season, and we’ve seen them since the New Year.

It has been suggested that Brendan Rodgers is the New Shankly.
I don’t think he is. I think Rafa was that…
…and given all that has occurred between his departure and Brendan’s arrival…
I would suggest that “the next Shankly” is not even remotely what we need right now… …what we need right now… is the next Gerrard Houllier.
…and maybe Brendan Rodgers is (or can be) that?

“We are in a season of transition,” we have been told.
That is what Houllier gave us… (although it was actually several seasons rather than one for the transition to take hold)
We have been a “team in transition” for a long time…
..from Evans team that won a Cup, to Houllier’s team that won a Treble, to Rafa’s team that went to 2 CL Finals, winning one, 2 CL Semi-Finals, a League Cup Final, an FA Cup Final…all in just 6 years…
…and since Rafa left… for 3 seasons we’ve been transitioning…
(maybe its been even longer than that?)
…It was clear to see what we were transitioning from and to between 2000 and 2008…
…so we didn’t have to ask…
…But for a while now, when anyone has suggested a “season in transition” we should all have been immediately asking, “transition FROM WHAT… TO WHAT”?

The more recent culling of the squad to “balance the books” might very well have been necessary… but was the way we did it necessary?
And if it was necessary, one has to ask oneself if what the owners were looking to achieve with it in that time, is the same thing we fans were looking to achieve?

We’ve absolutely rid ourselves of high salary/low return players like Jovanovic and Cole and mediocre players like Poulsen and Konchesky…
… but we’ve also shed promising players like Meireles and Insua. (and that’s without the experienced/and/or/class players we’ve lost recently)

We challenged for the title in 08/09 and by all rights we should have won it…
…even falling short, it should have been the stepping stone to the title…
… instead, since then, we have floundered in the league… finishing outside the “venerated Top 4” spots 3 years running… with a 4th most likely.
That seems weird when you stop to think about it. So much has happened since Rafa left, that it can’t be only 4 years ago we had THAT team???

Archaeologists search for fossils and artifacts.
“Fossils” are the mineralized remains of plants and animals, whereas “artifacts” are man-made objects, such as stone tools, or pots.
BUT… the environmental setting in which these archaeological materials are found is called a “context”.

The things we all find argument with… Downing is shit. Stevie is a legend. Jovanovic was a waste of space. Cole was a waste of money. Hodgson was an idiot. Rafa was a genius…
…these things are the “fossils” and “artifacts” of LFC discussion.
All that bollox that happened between Moores selling the club and now, (and yes… certainly there is plenty of context prior to that time also, like Parry’s lack of marketing savvy.)… that was the “context”.

… and its important to remember, or at the very least give fleeting thought to the context at play when forming any judgment of Brendan Rodgers, or where LFC currently is.

It is a context that must include the dire decisions of summer 2010… to fire Rafa, to hire Hodgson, to buy the likes of Konchesky and Cole.
…A stable and football-knowledgeable Anfield hierarchy would never have even remotely considered any one of those decisions… let alone all 4… at once!

We were sold Hodgson as the safe pair of hands that would stop the freefall.
Problem was… we weren’t in anything even remotely like a freefall.
We’d stumbled slightly as a result of lack of investment to “take the next step”.
Under Hodgson though, we immediately went into what was almost a catastrophic freefall, and it was in fact Kenny Dalglish that proved the “safe pair of hands” that not only arrested that freefall, but restored us to the “minus one” mark that we’d stumbled to in the final year of Rafa’s tenure.

But the context for all of that was absolutely the boardroom farce that saw an all-in cage-match Battle Royale between G&H, their own MD, the Royal Bank of Scotland, John Henry …and some Chinese bloke who owned a pizza chain.

And it is for all those reasons, that I find it hard to compare LFC to Man United, Citeh, Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs, or even Everton… let alone teams in other countries.
I understand why people want to, I just don’t see the comparisons as legit…
Those used to be the teams that compared themselves to LFC, but they aren’t the teams we can compare ourselves to right now… maybe some day soon we can again, but not now or in most recent times…

We have always considered ourselves to be the most “unique” of clubs… but to a very large extent since 2005 for all we’ve done right, we made ourselves “unique” for All The Wrong Reasons.
… and our travails of the last 3-7 years more closely compare us to the likes of Portsmouth and Rangers, rather than any Top, or even Middle Prem Club.

So here we stand at yet another Crossroads.
Another season without silverware (coz you know, last season’s silverware was only pewter ;) )
Likely to finish yet another season outside the top 4

We are Bill Murry in Japan, Lost in Transition, hoping that Brendan Rodgers looks good in pink knickers.
(you’re never gonna get that image out of your heads, no matter how hard you try. Your welcome. :) )

But that’s the thing about the “context” and where we’ve been…
The “transition” back into the Top 4 isn’t going to take 1 season. It can’t when we are constantly selling to buy.
Our squad just isn’t big enough or strong enough… and the competition have a headstart.
We desperately need a quality left back.
We desperately need a big, strong midfielder (in spite of having about 97 midfielders)
We need another striker.
We need a quality center back.
We need… We need… We need…
We need a quality left-winger, and a quality right-winger.
We need… We need…
…We need to ADD all of those to what we currently have, and not bring them in as replacements for the selling of Skrtel, or Agger, or Pepe, or the retiring Carragher, or ….. heaven forbid the Beyern rumors are true…

… that is the “transition” we are in.
And before we start contemplating replacing Brendan Rodgers “coz 8th isn’t good enough” we better spare a thought for the “context” of such a decision…
… that FSG will not bring in a manager of the sort of steel and nerve the position requires, a Special One, a Rafa, a “insert your fave name here”…
… the “context” of firing Brendan Rodgers one year into his contract is that in all likelihood his replacement would be “a 2nd tier” Manager…

We know what Brendan Rodgers HAS been capable of.
We do not yet “know” what he IS capable of.
Not yet.
But I’d suggest we give him time to show us…
…and that the Owners provide the proper context” for him to “achieve” it…
… or the alternative won’t be another “season in transition”, it will be a BADGER…
…err… no it won’t be a badger of course, that’s just silly :) and an obviously shameless and blatant attempt to use the word “badger” one more time before signing off…

…it might be yet another “season in the wilderness” though…

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