Liverpool Football Club. Even just the name sends a tinkle down the spine.
In what has been a turbulent twelve months for the Merseysiders with the change of management, player unrest and off field antics involving two American owners, you get a sense of fresh optimism growing within the Liverpool camp. Roy Hodgson’s arrival has certainly gone well so far as his tremendous man management skills have paid dividends after he convinced Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres to pledge their allegiance to the course.
The new gaffer casually popped on a plane to meet his star striker on his holiday where a fifteen minute chat erased any doubts of leaving.
However, there is still work to be done at Anfield to repair some broken bridges. Rome wasn’t built in a day and even that period of historic legacy faced its upheavals – much like the football club itself.
One disappointing season cannot discard the rich heritage and aura which has been bestowed at Anfield. Many skeptics will say that the club is in decline following the ordeal over the last twelve months but that really shouldn’t be the case. Even a club the size of Liverpool can have a campaign where to put it bluntly, just doesn’t work.
FC Barcelona fans will remind you about their so called downfall seven years ago where they just managed to scrape into the UEFA Cup by the skin of their teeth, a point ahead of Athletic Bilbao. A year later, they finished runners-up. Another twelve months, they were league champions. This is where fickleness can so easily creep into the game.
Liverpool is synonymous with the English game. The contribution The Reds have made in putting a marker on club football in England is huge. Five European Cups and eighteen League titles speaks volumes. You cannot buy history. It is the making of any club’s identity. What some would do to boast the glittering CV that is proudly cemented in the structure of Liverpool Football Club?
Manchester United laid the first brick in terms of European success for an English side and their North-West neighbors followed suit as they picked up four European Cup’s of their own in a space of seven years during the late seventies and early eighties. Success and domination which is unprecedented.
Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa also chipped in with three European Cups themselves during glorious period for English football. It is that particular era which really set the benchmark for the countries legacy – club wise. The likes of Real Madrid, Benfica, Bayern Munich and Ajax had dominated the European Cup up until the English intervention which saw six straight triumphs.
As far as the fans are concerned it must be a real pleasure for any manager to have a stadium full of proud passionate people whose loyalty and common sense is pretty much second to none. In a modern era where one or two bad results sees a backlash from supporters towards their manager, Liverpool’s faithful stand by theirs, backing him in every which way possible. Never do you hear chants emanating from the KOP calling for someone to be sacked.
Rafael Benitez may have been a man on borrowed time last season but his legacy of leading the club to their first European Cup in twenty-one years will never be forgotten. The fact that his face is stitched into the famous KOP flag along the likes of Houllier, Shankly, Fagan and Paisley is a real testament to him and the fans will always bestow him with a warm welcomed appreciation.
Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley, who were pioneers of the coaching trade took a proud working class club to the summit of the world game. Values which they implemented into the club’s DNA will forever last as long as it breathes. Owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett by their own wrong doing have cascaded a dark cloud on The Red side of Liverpool with their comical business attitude by heaping it in so much debt.
How could two respected businessmen cause so much damage in the space of three years? Simple, they don’t understand what Liverpool Football Club is all about. It isn’t just a typical sporting franchise, it’s so much more. A working class club who look after their own – how Shankly wanted it.
“The word ‘fantastic’ has been used many times, so I would have to invent another word to fully describe the Anfield spectators. It is more than fanaticism, it’s a religion. To the many thousands who come here to worship, Anfield isn’t a football ground, it’s a sort of shrine. These people are not simply fans, they’re more like members of one extended family.”
– Bill Shankly
Nobody could have put it any better bar him.
Whatever does happen nothing shall ever erase the club’s contribution or success. The owners look ever more likely to be heading for the exit door as new investors look to revitalize the clubs finances and bring them out of the red. In two months a new manager has been installed, Joe Cole has been brought into the club and key personnel have publicly stated their commitment. Hopefully the club can move on from a bleak period in their history and progress.
Liverpool will always be regarded as one of the iconic entities of the sport, and rightfully so.