My Club-My View Pt I.

Posted by Hinesy on August 5, 2008, 01:51:27 PM

With the new season coming up, RAWK asked several of the sites' notable writers to send in a shortish piece that could be anything they liked so long as it vaguely adhered to the words "My Club - My View". We've asked opinionated voices and representatives from the SOS and so on to contribute. Here are their thoughts:

My Club-My View pt I

1. royhendo

Next season? On the one hand, if Lady Luck's on our side, we'll win silverware, and maybe even the league. On the other hand, who knows? Mass wailing and gnashing of teeth, pundits calling for heads on platters, and endemic insanity? Either way, it's going to be another emotional rollercoaster.

Off the field, I'd like to see the American owners ousted from the club, and a truly 'worthy' custodian installed in their place (with a minimum of fuss, and evidence that we're planning for the long-term with genuine investment). I don't see it happening though - I have a horrible 'sinking feeling' about it.

On the field, other than hoping we win every trophy we enter, I hope this season brings a more consistent shift to dominant play-making football - something we've seen glimpses of in recent months.

More specifically, I want to see us imposing our football on teams in the final third, and evidence of true 'pass and move' to break down sides that park the bus. I feel Rafa's recruited with that in mind this summer.

It's time to see a new 'crushing machine' emerge from the strong foundations we've laid - not necessarily all season long (I don't think we quite have the quality-in-depth for that yet) - but in a consistent way, and certainly against the sides we ought to dominate.

We'll see the odd blip here and there... so with that in mind I'd hope our fans can see the bigger picture, recognise the improvement in the quality in our play, and see where it'll take us in the seasons to come.

Having said that, the media will ramp up the pressure on Rafa if things don't run on rails - journos and pundits both. Net spending will be ignored and perspective will be set to one side. We'll hear how our owners have lavished cash on the squad, and how it's this season or bust for Rafa. Why bother with facts? They'll do everything they can to derail our progress - even the ones who profess to love the club.

We'll also see hysteria take hold if Man United find a strong position in the league come the Autumn, and I've a bad feeling people will lose the plot. There's a danger we'll forget it's our own progress we need to concentrate on, and the fact we're tantalisingly close to something special.

2. The Bill Hicks Appreciation Society
Given the turmoil our beloved club has gone through in recent seasons I think it would be madness to dismiss Rafael Benitez progress in shaping this project, because that is after all what we are, an ongoing, not yet completed project. His mission was to overhaul the entire setup from toddlers to seniors, although the youth part of the operation didn’t begin in earnest until Steve Heighway was relieved of his academy duties.

After Benitez first triumphant season in Europe he declared that his team was only at 70% where he wanted them to be. It would be interesting to hear how far along he himself believes we are in this endeavour. It cannot be disputed that we have continued to improve year after year in terms of squad ability and depth if not unfortunately our league position, but I can forgive that, especially with the conditions he has been forced to work under.

Prior to the yanks taking over the club everything wasn’t as rosy as we were led to believe either, eventually finding out that David Moores stumped up just under ten million pounds of his own money as a loan to fund the purchase of Dirk Kuyt. A sum of which is regularly awarded to the Manager at the other end of the motorway in the blink of an eye and without having to sell a single player to boot.

It would have been great to have seen how soon his ideas could have come to fruition had he had that sort of backing instead of having to do the types of wheeler dealing that Delboy would be proud of. We know he’s missed out on some remarkable transfer coups due to the financial noose around his neck such as David Villa, Daniel Alves and Nemanja Vidic who have gone on to prove their worth, doubling and even trebling their value from when Benitez first showed an interest.

The only difference off the field from when Moores had ownership is that now we can borrow higher amounts due to the yanks status, yet still Benitez is forced to sell members of his squad to fund the players that he wants, so rather than having the luxury other top managers have of bringing in new players, seeing how they adapt and interact with each other before moving out less important members of the squad he has to anticipate who to get rid of before moving for the player he has targeted.

The danger the owners fail to acknowledge or whether they even care at all is that with so many comings and goings it is sure to have an effect on the squad, this is where I feel we’ve fallen short in the last couple of years. Whether this effect will be detrimental to our title campaign this season we can only wait and see, however in saying that, it bodes very well for us that those who have left so far have either been players who have been going backwards in terms of performance or not featured heavily enough in the first team that we will miss their contribution.

Even some of the players earmarked to go such as Voronin, Itandje and to a lesser extent Finnan offer little special and wont be missed out on the pitch as we’ve already got their potentially superior replacements.

All well and good, that is until the latest murmurings that Xabi Alonso and Jermaine Pennant may be heading out of the door. Now whether you rate these players or not I am certain that unless a team came in with an offer that was simply too good to refuse that Rafa would prefer to have these players in his armoury as both offer very unique aspects in their game that no-one else in our current squad possesses; Xabi’s passing and vision is unparalleled even by our Captain whilst Pennant offers a directness and possesses a forever attacking mindset yet Rafa may be forced to sell in order to find the money to bring in Gareth Barry, again whether you’re behind this transfer or not the fact is that he is a player our Manager has identified, where the player himself already has his bags packed and is half way up the M6 and we’re in a position where we could be forced into selling players to off set the cost of another. That’s just not right and it just might hurt us in the long run.

I say might, because I genuinely believe we have the best manager in the world at our helm or at the very least the best manager in the world for Liverpool Football Club and with L6Red’s very positive look on the season ahead coupled with Royhendo’s footballing version of War and Peace a certain spring seems to crept back into my step. It’s confirmed everything I’ve believed Benitez is trying to accomplish at the club or at the least confirmed I’m not alone in believing Benitez has a very definite and as always meticulous plan.

So despite the troubles off the pitch last season, the perpetual ducking and diving that Rafa has had to do and continues to do in the transfer market, the empty promises from our owners regarding the new stadium and the mounting expectations of a title challenge this season I am enormously confident that Benitez will deliver a title in the very near future and this season seems the perfect time to do so.

Whilst the transfer window is very much open it is hard to predict what our rivals will do however neither of the London contingent appear to have strengthened greatly and have lost influential players in Lehman, Flamini, Hleb and Makalele all except the Mancs who have made absolutely no moves whatsoever as yet and they’ll be without Ronaldo until October, it will be interesting to see how they cope but could it be the Glasers have put a stop on any spending after the estimated £70mil outlay of last season?

Surely there can be no better time to launch an all out assault on the League than this season? Fuck that why not a four pronged assault  Our opponents are weaker and should expect to go through some period of adjustment; Chelsea with new management and everything that comes with it. Arsenal with the dangerous tactic of replacing experience with potential, and the Mancs who appear to be resting on their laurels whilst we ourselves have strengthened considerably without losing any first team players (so far) and there may even be more to come.

After watching the reds via shitty little foreign streams in the pre-season you can’t help but get excited. I can actually see the level 3 football described by Royhendo in his wonderfully analytical article and that I’ve seen sporadically throughout Mr Benitez’s tenure with my own eyes. We all have fun discussing how we like to see the team line up but in all the various line ups I’ve seen posted on these boards lately I have not seen a weak team posted. That in itself should speak volumes but put against our main rivals it has the capacity to make our ears bleed. Each one of them is going through a transition of some sort whilst the Mancs are on our tail and that should be the only motivation needed.

3. NickoH

I could quote the old saying of 'heart or mind' but I'll let my mind rule this time.

It's that time of the year when hope is usually high on the agenda, whereas in trophy laden times gone by it was an expectation of league winning success that was top of the list.

I've learned over the years to suppress this hope because sometimes even a little hope can be a cruel thing and the let down felt after Christmas (at best) can be a huge fall, with many a word typed in anger towards the owners, the underperforming team and the odd shot towards Rafa.

It's been a slow progression, rather than a big bang but Rafa is steering the team in the right direction, I've no doubt about that. The summer has yet again seen a steady of never heard of youngsters, a couple of promising more experienced men and the possible 'Torres' signing in Robbie Keane. Will Robbie be this final missing piece of the jigsaw which has become harder to find than the Holy Grail and the Loch Ness Monster put together ? Only time will tell but I think he may just be the signing to turn them relatively huge number of last seasons draws into 3 points.

Obvious but Anfield needs to become the famous fortress yet again. Rafa seems to have cracked the away games but last season our home form let us down, which was a surprise to say the least. Maybe, just maybe, Rafa needs to go for the jugular when we are 1-0 up and coasting. Many times I felt if we got the second we would go on and win 3 or 4-0 instead of settling for what we had and many times ending up with only one point.

Babel, Torres, Gerrard, Keane, etc, etc.....on paper at least give us a mouth watering combination in the attacking third and fingers crossed the defence will be a place that will need to fight for places. Skrt's, Carra, Agger and to a lesser extent Sami will be competing for the two central spots and it's anyone's guess who will make the positions theirs. In Pepe Reina we have a now hardened Premier performer in the nets and I wouldn't swap him for anyone. His record in winning the Golden Gloves (or whatever it is called) tells no lies and gives us the start of that solid background down the middle.

Hopefully the off the pitch scenario will not be filling the papers as much as last season and whatever the outcome in that 'battle' the results will fill the message boards and column inches of Fleet Street's 'finest'.

So where will we finish ? Back to my heart and mind.......heart says we can win it, possibly all the way to the last mind says 3rd behind Chelsea and Man U but a lot closer.

The other cup competitions will hold the best hope of a trophy coming to Anfield. Rafa will play a second string in the Carling Cup but it may be strong enough (if we avoid Chelsea away) to bring it back home and give us a first visit to the new Wembley and a weekend piss up in London.
The FA Cup again may offer us a visit to Wembley twice but again it depends how seriously we take it. The scares last season and eventual upset in getting turfed out by lower opposition may well turn into a Burnley moment and we go on to win it the season after.

Europe....what can I say about Europe ? Every season now starts with me actually thinking we can go all the way....Maybe it's the confidence we have got in recent seasons that fills me with hope for the forthcoming campaign or maybe it's just a bit of wishful thinking that I'll be sat in a bar in Roma come May. Whatever it is, I again think we can go all the way and after last seasons English domination we might just have to get through an all English quarter or semi final clash.

My Club-My View......full of hope as usual but don't tell anyone.....I keep these things to myself.

4. Raul

On the Pitch

An inveterate optimist, every year is always "our year" for me.  I'm happy to see that at least some of the more "thinking" posters agree with that view this time around.

I'm not sure whether having lived through the glory years makes me less or more desperate than some younger fans for success but my desire to win is tempered by the fact that I find a great deal of satisfaction and pleasure in having made the best effort possible, regardless of the outcome.  If we can look at ourselves at the mirror at the end of the season and say that we have done that, that we have tried our best, then there is nothing to be ashamed of, wherever in the league we might finish the season.  Old fashioned and perhaps even foolishly romantic but there you have it.

Practically though, this term, with the cast of characters that our manager has put together over the past few years I think that if we make that kind of effort, we have the quality and will find that we are there, or at least thereabouts.  The team to make the challenge is more or less there, the spirit must now follow.  And if there was ever a year for us to have that spirit, this is it.

Gerrard knows that this is the business end of his career.  I do not subscribe to the theory that some trot out about him "not caring" – I think does, enormously.  He needs to show that outwardly a little more this season.  Carragher clearly care and Mascherano wears his heart on his sleeve too.  Question Kuyt's ability if you must but his attitude is unimpeachable.  Skrtel plays like he wants to kill someone on the other team and Alonso, if he stays and when he plays, is always bothered about how we do.  If Keane is half the fan that he claims to be, he will have the bottle and I think that is enough of a nucleus to bring the Dossenas, Degens and N'Gogs of the world along and get them to do their best.

Of the new boys, Keane has done nothing to show that it was a mistake to get him, Dossena has impressed after a slow start and N'Gog seems to have the brains that Cisse did not.  I think Rafa has bought well this time around.

So let us see.

Off the Pitch

I'm going to leave out discussion of our owners, other than to say that I would like them out – they lied and they mistreated our manager.

I would like to see a significantly greater effort being made by the club in marketing LFC.  One of the reasons we fell behind Manchester United in the 90s was because their success was seen on TV by the teeming millions in Asia, leading to all that crap we love to deride – shirt sales, merchandise and more money for better players. 

News reports in the last few weeks point to the big enemy making big plans for countries like India, where the television coverage of almost every weekend game has meant that little boys are looking at the Premier League as a credible alternative to the IPL and, as is inevitable with little boys, are beginning to pick teams to supports, however much that might be to the horror of the militant purple bin brigade.  And they will the successful teams, which is why you will see more kids here with Manchester United and Chelsea shorts than Liverpool or even Arsenal.  Our three biggest rivals are setting up academies and twinning with Indian clubs, sending past players out for coaching camps and getting talented youngsters across to England for training and a taste of the big time.  Things like this are already happening in China and elsewhere in Asia.

We cannot afford to fall behind on this but the club seems to be dragging its feet on taking any significant initiatives in this area.  Whether this is down to Parry or the lying twosome, I don’t know but LFC needs to get its act together on increasing its global (shirt buying) support.  If we want to play with the big boys, we need to at least match their moves.

Perhaps we need to have the second coming of DIC to see this happen.

Hinesy: I'll post the next few up shortly in the 2nd part.

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