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“Oh how the mighty have fallen” the problems at Liverpool

Bill Shankly 1913-1981: “My idea was to build Liverpool into a bastion of invincibility. Had Napoleon had that idea he would have conquered the bloody world. I wanted Liverpool to be untouchable. My idea was to build Liverpool up and up until eventually everyone would have to submit and give in.

Oh Liverpool.

23/9/10

P5   W1   D2   L2   F4   A7   –   16th place

On the 29th September 2006 Liverpool FC celebrated the life of Bill Shankly 25 years to the day of his sad and unexpected death. Rafael Benitez was their manager and had brought the UEFA Champions League trophy back to Anfield; this time for keeps and had also landed the F.A cup for the 7th time in LFC’s history.

25/9/06

P6   W3   D1   L2   F8   A6   –   7th place

LFC were five points short of top and by the end of the season would finish third, above Arsenal on goal difference.

Almost four years on we see a drastic change, a Liverpool not only struggling for success on the pitch but also becoming a point of amusement for all in the Premier league off of it. The sale of the club to Tom Hicks and George Gillett in Febuary 2007 was welcomed as the next stage of financial growth needed to compete with Chelsea and Man Utd as Liverpool looked to end its eighteen years of agony without a top flight title. However, ask any Liverpool fan who they would rather have at the helm of their beloved club, the Yanks or Ronald Macdonald and the fans will start singing the Fast Food Rockers quicker than Calum Best dropping his trousers for a page 3 model.

To say the sale of Liverpool was a bad move is an understatement for a club famed for it’s roots and stability. It would be unfair however to say that the Americans are totally to blame for Liverpool’s fall from grace. The fault lines run deep throughout Britain’s most successful club with board members, managerial changes and debt creating havoc at Anfield Road.

With Kenny Dalglish, Christian Purslow, Martin Broughton, George Gillett, Tom Hicks and even David Moores having been involved heavily backstage within the last four years this has certainly been a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth. Whilst King Kenny’s appointment as Academy Ambassador (a vague title at best) back in 2009 was a stroke of temporary genius by the unpopular owners the long term effect has been minimal and no longer provides any cover for the bombardment of criticisms raining down on the boardroom these days.

Also, despite Rafael Benitez’s immediate success, after six years of relative mediocrity and increasingly disappointing performances the spaniard was let go and replaced with the steady, if not inspired choice of Roy Hodgson. Whilst Hodgson’s C.V is impressive he was not the most exciting choice nor was he the marquee signing most Red’s fans were hoping for. It came as a wake up call to the fans unwilling to recognise the rut the club had found themselves in. They were not the massive club they once were and after being snubbed by the likes of Louis Van Gaal, Guus Hiddink and José Mourinho Liverpool had to come to the realisation that without honours the big names just wouldn’t come.

On the pitch however ‘Pool fans had found a saviour. It was of course Fernando Torres and if Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher were the product of LFC’s foundations and past, Torres was the picture of their future. A player capable of winning games single handedly ‘El Nino’ gave the Anfield faithful hope that in their no.9 they had a player with the ability to bring home some much coveted silverware and give them something to parade around merseyside rather than shoot envious glances at their Manchester rivals continuing success.

Just as Liverpool found out that without trophies they won’t get the manager’s or the investors so they are finding that without success they won’t keep their best assets either. With the exit of Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano LFC had lost arguably two of the best midfielder’s in the world and replaced them with the frustrating and often times comedic Lucas Leiva and Darren Anderton wannabe Alberto Aquilani. Not exactly Delia’s recipe for success is it? If success doesn’t follow this season it is very likely that Liverpool will have to find replacements not just for Torres but club icon Steven Gerrard as well.

Today is Thursday the 23rd and most Red’s fans are still nursing their hangover’s after needing a gallon of Carlsberg to erase their memories of League Two’s Northampton Town victory at Anfield in the League Cup twenty four hours earlier. To say the Kopites were less than pleased with the manner of their clubs exit is like saying Ashley Cole was ‘slightly peeved’ when his suggestive pictures to a topless model were printed in all of the best red tops. (Come on Cashley what did you expect. Moron.)

Unfortunately, whilst most papers will be running with stories of Liverpool’s worrying demise after their cup exit the rot has been around for far longer and the problems go much deeper. By that I mean due to their past successes and legendary achievements they will never again reach those heights and so will always fall short of their fans expectations. Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley were one of a kind (Kind of an oxymoron to have two one of a kinds but give me some grace yeah?). Managers who not only coached and analysed their team but who immersed themselves within the club. Men who understood the significance and importance of the club, not just as a stepping stone or a milestone to enhance their C.V but as a beacon of hope to the working classes. Shankly was one of the Kop, he lived and breathed football and spent his life investing not just in football but into everything that it signifies.

Liverpool will never be the club it once was. The same will happen with the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. Whilst both Liverpool and Manchester United are clubs built for success having figureheads who are bigger than the club is a dangerous game and whilst during their reign you can feel invincible the fallout can be less than pretty. What irony that Bill Shankly, the symbol of Liverpool’s past successes could also, inadvertently, be the reason for its decline.

2 Samuel 1:27: “Oh, How the mighty have fallen…

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