This week I found myself talking to a fellow football supporter, if somewhat misguided in his support of Glasgow Rangers, we would mull over the debacle in which his club find themselves, for those with a perspective on Scottish football that includes words like – Sunday league, amateur and conference, perhaps you should look at the fan base of the Glasgow giants, and quickly a realisation that indeed Rangers are rightly one of the big guns in European football – or at least they were.
My mind found itself wandering back to October 2010, this would be a defining month in the long history of Liverpool Football Club, a game changing moment when the club would itself escape administration by a few hours. The debt at Liverpool at this time would be a paltry £280 million, not a figure that is seen excessively high in today’s debt ridden age. This will go down in Liverpool history as its luckiest month, with not a post or crossbar in sight; they would go on to win this battle and avoid administration and a prospect of relegation.
I have often been disparaging about the deluded Liverpool supporters, whose merry band of men seem to be getting larger with each Cup Final that passes the club and its manager Kenny Dalglish by. Instant success the only act that these poor folk will accept, this minority that cannot see the trees for the forest. Realism is not in the vocabulary of these people, it was missing when they screamed for Rafa’s head, and it is clearly missing now as once again they shout as loud as is possible to drown out the more sensible, in a new call for Kenny Dalglish’s head.
Long before we address who could or should manage Liverpool to its next chapter in its footballing history, but also take a seat at what is fundamentally a business plan – we must look at some clubs that have also found themselves with such predicaments. The supporters must accept that nobody cares about your history, other than a few people in Asia who tossed a coin and Manchester United lost out, and next season they will most possibly be wearing blue, and You’ll Never Walk Alone will be replaced with Blue Moon – Business is business nothing personal.
In over twenty years now, during which time Liverpool have failed to capture the Title – many teams rebuilt, many heroes passed the This Is Anfield sign, but only two occasions when they were within touching distance of winning the trophy. The blame for the failure laid at managers, owners, and a varied array of under-performing players during this barren spell – but still no success, do you see a pattern forming?
My fear is that Liverpool and its American owners, will once again let the supporters down, and by this I mean by giving them too much input as regard the future path – Will supporters that believe they know best allow this club to modernise itself – To chase the dollar like never before, which will enable the club to move from its current home, to a new, more financially beneficial stadium. The owners are learning, fast and hard, football is a very different business to any other, and Liverpool supporters a breed of its own, after Gillett and Hicks – they will not be fooled again easily. A fancy bit of skirt on the arm of the owner is nice, but it will not detract supporters from the true beauty of seeing the Premiership Title in the cabinet.
Manchester United along with Manchester City, Chelsea, Newcastle and Spurs amongst others, have all found themselves relegated from the top division, and with that the opportunity to rebuild from its carcass, so far Liverpool have not had the indignity of finding itself in a similar pickle, a real opportunity to build foundation on which its new history can be built, Glasgow Rangers now finds itself with some very difficult choices to make, while it reflects on how it found the institution struggling on its knees.
In the same season that The Old Lady – Juventus have just won the Italian league title, after finishing 7th and 7th during the past two seasons, and again after spending time away from the top division in 2006-2007. The best way to build is from a position of weakness, which is how you get stronger, yes they have dismissed managers along the way – but fundamentally they stuck to a game plan.
If you go with a plan, and that plan is flawed then by all means screw it up and slam dunk it toward the silver dustbin which resides in the corner of the manager’s office – Where does responsibility lie when failure raises its head? With the man who wrote the plan, or the man tasked with seeing it implemented. Liverpool already has one half of that answer, with Damien Comolli having been given his P45 or whatever the French equivalent is – Le P45.
Which leads me on to Kenny Dalglish – the man charged with implementation of the three-year plan, yes THREE years, year one has included winning a trophy and becoming runners-up in another, but the league form has overshadowed any perceived success that having a winner’s medal for the first time in 6 years may have shown.
Some less experienced in the ways of footballing business, would like to see his tenure cut short, a huge mistake if this were to happen, the players have at times been woeful this season, tactics questionable, some signings clearly not what it said on the tin when they were purchased – but footballers will dictate these days, even a man steeped in a legendary status and history as Dalglish is, will find it difficult to survive the modern game, if he can’t get these people to perform at an acceptable level.
This will be the biggest and most important summer footballing break, the signings and the players shown the exit sign will dictate where the plan is – and if Dalglish is not at the helm, which I fear he won’t be – Then bet your bottom dollar; that yet another plan has once again been consigned to history and the office bin.
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