These are troubled times for Liverpool supporters across the world. Let’s face it – losing to Stoke 3-1 on Boxing Day was a brutal reality check for us all. Losing before that to Aston Villa at Anfield turns out to have been no blip. Liverpool FC just isn’t what it used to be.
To rub salt into our wounds, it’s Manchester that leads the way. United – sure, they are built on a dodgy debt pyramid – are twenty points ahead in the table and make our striker-less attack look even more toothless with the likes of Van Persie, Rooney and Chicharito to draw upon. The Champions City are leagues ahead of us and can bankroll the likes of Falcao by flogging half a ship of crude.
We may look at Arsenal and laugh. Admittedly, they have been more of a basket case even than us over the last decade. At least we have Big Ears from 2005 to fall back on when they have zilch. But in the long run they are far better placed than Liverpool to achieve regular success. And that is sad because Arsenal have never won the European Cup and are a Capri compared to our Aston Martin.
Losing Torres to Chelsea was not so bad when it happened, or for a year after it happened, because he played so very badly during that time. But look what happened last year to Chelsea – they won the FA Cup Final against us and the Champions League (with a useless Torres). Now Torres has started to come good, Chelsea have Benitez (which makes me feel weird) and we’re stuck with a New Year when we’re going to get Sturridge (kept on the bench at Chelsea by even a misfiring Torres) and Paul Ince’s kid who we flogged for quarter of a million just a year ago. Nuts.
Fenway did wonders for the Boston Red Sox, who had been a sleeping giant for far longer than Liverpool FC have been losing to the Manchesters and Chelsea. But they don’t have the funding to compete with City and they don’t seem to be the owners LFC needs to win the Premiership within the next several years. They have plumped for Brendan Rodgers who has the makings of a fine, long-term manager for Liverpool. But Rodgers is clearly not going to be given the riches he needs to make the buys – shrewd or otherwise – we need to make to win the league title.
Come the end of this season I assure you Liverpool will have won nothing. Last season’s League Cup win was a blip. How King Kenny managed it was and is a miracle; given the gulf (literally) between us and our competitors.
We’ll be lucky this season to finish eighth.
So, how do we get out of the doldrums?
Well, I see three possible ways out:
First way out is the unromantic Chelsea / City way. We spend bucket-loads of cash. This will allow us to immediately buy the likes of the unsettled Dzeko, Schneider, Walcott, whoever we want. We switch Anfield for a mega-stadium. For all this to happen we need yet another takeover. Is this beyond the realms of possibility? If Leeds can get bought out by a bunch of Kuwaitis then there’s nothing stopping Fenway from flogging Liverpool to some super-rich Arabs or Russians or even some Chinese for a figure that will be far larger than the squat-diddly they paid for the club in the first place. The chances of this being our saving grace are five out of ten, I’d guess. If Fenway managed to sell to someone with really deep pockets, I’d be the first to say their tenure of the club was a huge success.
Second way out is the Oakland A’s Moneyball way (if you haven’t seen the film, I strongly recommend you do, as it’s an interesting film and Mr Henry – well an actor playing Henry – plays a part in the concluding sequences). Brendan Rodgers is the kind of guy who can pull off such a feat but baseball is a very different game from football – more money and less maths. For this to happen, Rodgers is going to have to be as shrewd and hard-nosed a businessman as he claims he is a coach. Us fans will hate him for a few years. He will need to sell one Suarez for three Suarez and one Skrtel for three Skrtels for a couple of seasons until we have a squad with fifteen world class players in it; instead of the three or four we have now. By growing the squad by wheeling and dealing – with no room for failure (and Borini’s a terrible start) – Rodgers could in theory get us back to where we should be. Still, we’d be without the stadium (less important than the likes of Arsenal make out in fact, but still a crucial element for longer term success should TV margins dwindle). I see the likelihood of this strategy working as three in ten.
The final way out is something I’d personally never espouse: the Platini Communist way. In other words, clubs would have to control their finances and operate within strict budgets. Liverpool could push this concept politically. We’d attract the best players along with the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United simply because we’d be the most loved. Personally, I think the Platini way is flawed and will do huge damage to the Premier League’s ability to attract the very best players from all round the world. I think we’re privileged right now watching the likes of Suarez at Anfield and seeing players like Tevez, Toure, Van Persie and other greats in our Premier League. Would I be so happy to see Liverpool win the league this way – by bureaucratic default? Nope. Not at all. Two in ten.
Give me the option of 1, 2 or 3 and I’d of course sell my purist soul and go for number 1 – football is partly war after all and you rarely win a war without the funds to do so. Without being able to compete in terms of investment levels with the Manchester clubs we are shooting ourselves in the foot. We have potentially the best brand out there.
All Liverpool supporters working out there in the Emirates or in Moscow or Shanghai – chat up a billionaire. Get them addicted to Liverpool. Hey, it’s not a hard task. After all, we’re charmed.
You’ll Never Walk Alone.