By Jennifer Juneau
Several factors have contributed to Liverpool FC’s demise: 1. Past and present American owners accused of not having the passion for European football, 2. lack of funds to attract & sign the superstars, 3. loss of good players (Alonso, Mascherano, etc.), 4. injured players and, of course, the popular and easy way out, 5. poor management.
Now, time is critical: it is nearing the halfway point of the 2010-2011 club season and manager Roy Hodgson has nothing to show for it but disaster and gossip for the Reds. I know this, because apart from watching the matches, all the newspapers say so.
As frustrating as it is to see a despondent Torres hit a scoring slump in the troubled club that continues to drop on the chart as well as knowing that the few club’s stars are itching to leave, what has become most irritating is Hodgson’s defensiveness and refusal to take responsibility for his team’s failure—and why should he? Somebody is to blame—it says so in black and white—so why not blame him? At first I did; but now to me, it’s just a Kop-out.
Critics and fans should give Hodgson a break. I do not believe it is completely fair to blame a guy who had the courage to manage the Reds in the middle of a mess. Especially having left a team who respected him.
Liverpool have looked pretty amateur this season—and last. But if you’re looking to blame Benitez too, look away. He’s sitting comfortably at Inter Milan.
Set your sights on the dismal pitch: the striker-of-the-week is barely there to support Torres, the midfielders do not hustle fast enough to rush the ball down the field, the defense do not put enough pressure on their striking opponents and if by chance any of them succeed they seem to prosper under strain. The results? So what. Do they work hard? Yes, sometimes. But low team morale has seen to it that they don’t work hard enough; they are inconsistent. If you don’t believe me check out the competition.
Having fluctuated dramatically on the chart, dipping a toe in relegation, Liverpool play as if they belong in the bottom ten. Why should fans want them to climb if they can’t pull it together? Torres’s devotion to the ailing team has become unnerving. A world class player, previously Liverpool’s top scorer, a player who had won the title of third best footballer in the world two years ago, has taken the club’s motto “You’ll Never Walk Alone” a bit too seriously. Number nine should look out for number one: come January it would only prove useful for him to walk out and onto a Champions League-bound pitch where he deserves to be.
If I were to pick two reasons to form one solid outcome for Liverpool’s failure, I’d have to go with debt and the Americans.
There’s no cash flow to buy the world’s best players. But why buy them if they can’t keep them? It’s simple: it doesn’t end there. To invest does not mean to invest solely in a good starting lineup, it also means to invest in a solid bench. To provide plenty of star backup of equal caliber in case a player is injured or if a win is critical and a player needed to be taken off the pitch to rest would preserve him at a stage before a threatening injury set in.
But promises don’t fall from the sky. Sold to foreigners yet again, Liverpool are not thriving. In my opinion, foreign ownership is sacrilegious. It makes sense that the owners of an English club need to genuinely love the sport of football, having grown up with it, feeling its history. (To reside on the same continent and support each match wouldn’t hurt either.)
Pennies don’t fall from the sky either. New owners can promise change all they want, but real devotion leads to large investing. Spending big means asking if it’s worth it, and if there’s passion sprouting from patriotism engraved inside, then it’s worth it.
Acquiring a good starting lineup and solid bench would follow. A good starting lineup and a solid bench would boost club morale, club morale will bring in confidence and success.
It may be too late, but the bottom line is this: Should the English own English clubs? Not necessarily, but in the middle of a crisis they should definitely own Liverpool.