Tuesday, 4 May 2010
The Day A Great Football Club Died. Goodbye Liverpool
Firstly, I have to say I didn't expect any favours from Liverpool. I wasn't praying for some sort of miracle, or that the Scouse would cut their own noses off to spite their 18 league titled face.
Liverpool were the team I envied as a boy. I supported a team that was a 'former' giant. Yes we still won quite a few games, but silverware was scarce. An FA Cup win represented a heart felt triumph, that would lead to much Mancunian merriment. We didn't even dare dream of winning a league title back then. Because if we did, then the reality that was the Big Red Machine from down the M62 would rear its ugly head, cock back its bionic neck and dive forward with teeth made from razorblades. We were second class citizens to their football royalty.
Things have changed since the Seventies and Eighties, and thankfully so. I need not bore you (ahem!) with detail of United successes...league titles, European glory, beautiful players and a Theatre of Dreams. We all know what happened next. It's been a generation since Liverpool last won the league. A fifth of a century has passed since a Liver Bird got it's feathers anywhere near the title. And on Sunday we saw what I feel was the lowest they have ever sunk too.
Only a fool would really believe that Steven Gerrard meant to pass the ball to Didier Drogba...that he was trying to lose a game in front of the Kop. Yes..some Scouse idiots did clap as Drogba rounded Reina to slot home, but they are cretins who defecate on the history of their own club. Rather than be a deliberate act by Gerrard, it was one of a deeply philosophical relevance. The final nail in the coffin of a side that no longer believes what their elders tell them. Take Burnley, Derby County or Wolves..all teams that have won the League Championship in what is living memory for many old football fans. These supporters remember the day their team ruled..and they have told their kids about it, and their grandchildren. However the point is that these achievements just become stories..told by one generation to a younger one. They are like fairytales..that are often followed by a nightmare or three.
Liverpool have left behind that history now to their older fans. And it has been true that ALL of their fans are in the middle of one great big nightmare NOW..Nineteen defeats in a season..the Champions League but a distant dream. A manager who really does look like he would be better waiting tables. A captain that will question that his career has been wasted. A world class striker that will demand a move to something better. A team so weak that only a year after 'nearly' winning a league, have decomposed quicker than your average compost heap. It is chronic. It is terminal. It has the stench of a club that's about to become 'Sleeping Giants'..joining the cast headed by Newcastle United. It is Lucas Leiva personified.
Many will say that Liverpool are at a crossroads now. But i think that crossroads was met twelve months back..when Liverpool had the chance to effect their immediate history in a positive manner. Manchester United were at a similar junction in 1989. A simple goal by Mark Robins changed United's future forever on a cold wet day at the City Ground, Nottingham. My 12 year old self punched the air as the diminutive striker poached the goal and the game for us. That memory is lodged in my head. Had United not won that day it was felt that Alex Ferguson would have been sacked, and despite the old board refuting this now in the modern day, if you were supporting the team in those days you will remember his head was on the chopping block primed for decapitation, playing similar stuff that you see Liverpool play today. It was all over bar the shouting. But somehow with a little luck and a pro-active attitude, Fergie took a stride forward..and we all went with him. Likewise, as Benitez has slipped further into the pits of hell, he has taken his players and supporters with him. He has built a side of hugely average proportions, and he has made sure that the memories of a once great club are purely that...flashes in the long term thoughts of older fans and only to be played on club history DVDs.
And as the Big Four is reduced to the Big Three, a new menace sits on the horizon. And it is the presence and power of Manchester City that will prove the real death of Liverpool. Not only have the Merseysider's been ousted by the new boys, they have already been 'replaced'. Money talks..and our evil blue brothers have plenty of it to make sure that the quota of Champions League clubs is full for the foreseeable future. Add Spurs and Villa to that mix...and it really looks like that Anfield will become English football's newest ghost town.
A coastal town they forgot to close down. Come Armageddon...come.