My guilty feelings about Rafa

Posted by Andy G on July 28, 2004, 04:06:01 PM

I saw the extended glory years (or most of them) and sometimes, when reading about Shanks, Paisley and Dalglish, I wonder to myself how I can love a man so much (well three of them) who is not my Brother, Dad, a handful of uncles or my best mate (obviously not in the “rumpy  pumpy” sort of way to any of the above).

These three idols should not be confused with my ultimate heroes. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Ghandi are worthy winners of that accolade in my eyes, but I don’t love them like I love Bill, Bob and Kenny.

Although I saw Kenny’s whole career, and most of Bob’s managerial career from the Kemlyn Road then Main Stand, I can only just remember Bill Shankly resigning, but he was one of the reasons that enabled this wonderful life I have had so far to be as wonderful as it has, which is why I love him so much. 

I have been lucky enough to have experienced many things that many do not get the opportunity to do. I am very well travelled, have a good career, have seen near as damn it every decent band over the last 20 years live in concert, played a good level football and squash winning cups and trophies at both (before the days when they gave them away for nothing), performed in front of big crowds in various disciplines (saying big, over 400 people, but when you are as shit a singer, actor, guitarist and drummer as I am, it’s pretty impressive), getting brilliant reactions from the audience. 

The biggest highs I have ever had in my life though, have been the birth of my brother, my sisters and best mates' weddings and a plethora of Liverpool matches. Bill, Bob and Kenny have been instrumental in all of this, and I was lucky enough to experience it all first hand, hence my total and utter love of all three men.

Tonight though, I am feeling extremely guilty. 

There have been so many players that have given me much pleasure over the years; Barnes, Beardsley, Heighway, Rush, Keegan, Souness, both the Kennedys to name but a few. I think so much of Joe Fagan, Roy Evans, and yes, even Gerard Houllier, but none of them come close to my feelings about the three gods I mentioned earlier.

The reason for my guilt is that my feelings for our new manager are at the current time stronger than those I have towards some of the greats I have mentioned above, and we have not even kicked a ball in anger under his leadership.

Why is this?

Expectations are obviously high, his CV is impressive indeed, but it must be more than that. 

Rafa is saying all the things that I want to hear. He is talking the perfect game for me.  His references to Shankly Spirit, local talent, wanting to win, being good both defensively and in attack, keeping the ball and fighting for the team are all music to my ears.

Words are very easy of course, but this also got to me: “It's very important for me to be at the centre of training. I need to transmit my ideas”. 

I don’t really know why this got to me so much, because this is obviously important for any manager to do.  Perhaps firstly I believe his ideas are the right ones and secondly, he actually said it. Then when he dedicated both friendly games to the fans I felt special.

He reminds me of Shankly in his approach to those that are most important. Us. Words that echo great speeches such as JFK’s “Ich Bin ein Berliner” (which of course was grammatically incorrect), MLK’s "I have a Dream" (which harbours the words “And we must never walk alone” by the way) and Churchills “Fight them on the beaches”. Of course, Rafa’s quotes are not the frenzy inducing speeches to which I refer, no, but for me, the message is loud and clear.

I have always been happiest when Liverpool do their talking on the pitch.  I have never said that we are going to do anything, only that we have done something, and that has always been the Liverpool way.  Rafa is singing to the same tune, but the most important thing is his emphasis on being a team. 

I don’t believe this means a huddle in the middle of the pitch or holding hands in unity, although I have no objection to either of these, I believe that he means working for each other, playing together as one, attacking and defending as a unit, basically, the traditions that Liverpool have thrived on. I believe that this is his intent.

The other thing that has got to me is his belief in his players. He has been very quick to complement Igor and Danny Murphy. Very quick to let everybody know that he is assessing the players and everyone is starting afresh. Very quick to get rid of those that do not fit his expectations, showing the required ruthless streak.  After months of Igor jokes and general lack of faith, the forums are filled with belief that Igor can do the job.  We all believe what he is telling us. This is how Shanks worked too.

Houllier was compared to Shanks at one time though, and obviously that was premature in the extreme, and unfair on all parties, as it is with Rafa. Shanks is one of a kind. I don’t want Rafa to be the next Shanks. Comparisons only add to pressure. But I do feel totally excited about what is happening to our club, and such excitement I have not felt since I realised that the decision to make Dalglish manager was an inspired one.

GH told us that we would win the league and the European Cup, it was just a matter of time. I believed him, but was not as excited as I am now. I still believe him, unfortunately for GH, it was not to be under his reign. Perhaps it will not be under Raf’s either, but the potential is there (and being fair, it was at the time under GH too – for my two  penneth worth, had it not been for illness, we might have been there now!)

An honourable mention should also go to Rick Parry and David Moores, in whom I have the utmost faith. 

Their ruthlessness and vision has been exceptional, and even if my gut feelings turn out to be incorrect, I will still have total faith in them, they have certainly picked the right man. Special credit to Parry also for this quote on lfc.tv:

LFCTV – “Is there anything else in terms of investment deals in the pipeline?”
Parry – “As ever we will comment when we have got something else to say.”

Although I feel guilt about my feelings towards Rafa compared with some of our proven greats, I do not apologise for them. If I die tomorrow, I can honestly be happy my life, and much of that is thanks to Liverpool. The last thing I want to do now though is die, not just because of all the other things I have in my life, but also because I have a real hope for the future of my beloved team and I don’t want to miss out.

We will never walk alone.

© Andy G 2004

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