Is this the club I grew up watching?

Posted by Kopite on April 17, 2004, 11:40:31 AM

Last night I was out having a Smirnoff Ice or five in Prestatyn (indeed I saw the girl who plays/played "Katie Rogers" in Brookside) when an old school friend came up to me and reminisced about our school/college days in the mid to late 80's.

"You were an absolute fanatic, all you ever talked about was Liverpool Football Club."

(Needless to say I was extremely popular with the ladies). ;)

I've followed the Reds for all of my life, from standing in the Kop as a toddler (my dad was a nut too) in 1973 until last season (I still have a season ticket).  In that time I have witnessed some of the finest football ever played on this planet. 

I've seen us win the League Title with almost clockwork timing, European Cup's, FA Cup's and League (insert any sponsor with more than 15p and three Dime bars) Cups.

I've been privileged to watch some of the finest footballers to grace the footballing stage - Keegan, Clemence, Dalglish, Souness, Hansen, Rush, Barnes, Beardsley, Whelan, Fowler, Owen, Heskey (;))

I've also seen tragedy at Heysel and Hillsborough.

Apart from the vintage that was 1987/88 I would have to say that 2000/01 was my favourite season following the Reds.   The drama of that season will live with me for a long time as to will the performances by, as a very esteemed Red (Mr Alan Edge no less) once said to me (and who could argue) "the hardest working Liverpool team he had witnessed".

2001/02 wasn't as successful trophy-wise, but as a team we grew and were only pipped to the title by an outstanding Arsenal team.  The point’s tally we gained would have won us the league in many of the Premiership seasons gone by, but we were faced by a truly outstanding team.  This was the season were we lost our guiding light for 6 months.  Gerard Houllier came back on "that night against Roma" and guided us into the quarterfinals of the Champions League.

Summer 2002 and the Far East came, and we all drooled over Diouf as he tore France to pieces - yet another Gerard Houllier masterstroke I thought.  Bruno Cheyrou also joined after an extremely promising Champions League campaign for Lille.  We also signed Salif Diao, scorer of one of the best goals in the 2002 World Cup.  Sadly we failed to get Damian Duff who, I believe, would have made a truly massive difference.  We also didn't turn Nicolas Anelka's stay into a permanent one.

Last season was poor make no bones about it.  Going out of the Champions League to a truly ordinary Basel team was hard to take, as were lacklustre performances and our worse run in the league for half century.

The signings many of us thought would take us from runners-up to Champions failed to sparkle, and indeed turned us into UEFA Cup Qualifiers.

Last summer saw the purchases of Harry Kewell and Steve Finnan.  GH could really not afford to spend money on potential; he had to get the "real deal".  Both proven, and indeed in their respective positions - two of the best players in the Premiership.

Sadly this season has been a continuation of the last, rather than the "blip" we all thought it would be.

Gerard Houllier has to take much of the blame.  His signings haven't done the business and the marauding Heskey of Treble season has given way to a timid, lumbering source of amusement.  Even Michael Owen is looking ordinary, and this was a man who three years ago none of us would have dared contemplate swapping for Henry or Van Nistlerooy.

If (and it's a big 'IF') he is manager next season he is going to be under huge pressure to deliver.  His summer transfer dealings are going to be the most crucial of any Liverpool manager since the greatest manager ever (in my opinion) bought St. John and "the colossus" that was Ronnie Yeats.

The imminent arrival of Cissé should give us pace, power and more importantly a goalscoring partner for Owen.  The move for Mexes is welcome as we need to be more mobile all around the park.  The team also need to be playing 10 yards higher up the pitch so we can compress the play.  By doing this teams will not be faced with a cavernous gap between our attack and midfield, allowing them time and space in which to play.  It will ultimately offer more support to the attack rather than the isolation and long balls we have seen for two seasons.

I'd like to see us try and move for someone like Malbranque of Fulham.  A player of his calibre should be brought in whilst we ship out the dross that is Diao, Biscan and Danny Murphy.  Also packing their bags should be Heskey who has simply not done it for us consistently for THREE years.

I feel Gerard Houllier has the ability to make us a great team as he proved it in Treble Season.  However he needs to be totally ruthless towards the players who have so badly let him down.

I have to be honest and say I like Gerard Houllier immensely as a man.  I don't analyse and dissect every sound byte or comment that he makes as football managers more often than not speak a steaming pile of dog's do-ings.  I also feel there has been a campaign in the press (not helped by the official site) of taking a comment in total isolation and making him look utterly ridiculous.  I've seen countless posts ripping the man to pieces where people (including some fans) have taken a comment in the middle of an interview (where it has a context) and ripped the man to pieces.  This is not fair, and does us no credit.

I've also read Liverpool fans calling him "Foullier" or far, far worse.

FFS the man is not deliberately trying to ruin our football club.

Gerard Houllier hasn't sold his story for 30 pieces of Silver to that odious rag.

He's the manager of a football club, not Adolf Hitler!

So why all the vitriol?

This is the one thing that has made me question my support for Liverpool Football Club more than anything else. 

Where has all this naked and disgusting abuse come from?

I am not advocating keeping the man.  I have to be brutally honest and say that I do have my doubts as to whether he has lost the players.  In his defence he has won us trophies and given us back our pride after the dark days of Souness and "the Spice Boys" (where the lunatics really did run the asylum).

My other concern is what I would call the "Ferguson factor".  During the 87/88 vintage season Man Utd (in Slur Ex-Lax's 1st season) finished 2nd to King Kenny's Rampant Reds.  Obviously their expectations were raised, but in the following two seasons Man Utd finished 11th and 13th respectively and this was after Slur Brown Pants spent a small fortune on the likes of Webb, Phelan and Danny Wallace.  The football Man Utd played was lacking in both imagination and passion, indeed in March 1990 they played Everton at Old Trafford and were just above the relegation zone.  I forget the times that "Fergie" was one game away from the sack.  A Mark Robins goal at the City Ground in early 1990 saved his job, Utd won the cup and the rest is, sadly, history.

My point is the Man Utd board didn't sack him because they could see the work that was going on behind the scenes like the improvements in coaching and the youth set up, and the removal of the cancer if ill-discipline from the club (the legendary drinking culture of Robson and Whiteside). 

Just perhaps the board can see this and feel that they have the right man for the job rather than being in a state of inertia?

Whatever it is the abuse aimed at Gerard Houllier is well out of order.

Flame away by all means.

All the best,


View Comments | Post Comment