Tuesday, 9 March 2010

LIVERPOOL FC: We can't go on together...

Sports News - February 09, 2009

I'M no Elvis fan – in fact, I'm one of those people who doesn't 'get' him.

But as I mentally combed over the bones of Liverpool's shambolic performance at Wigan today, 'The King' came to mind:

We're caught in a trap
I can't walk out
Because I love you too much baby

Why can't you see
What you're doing to me
When you don't believe a word I say?

We can't go on together
With suspicious minds
And we can't build our dreams
On suspicious minds

Not only are the fans caught in a trap – Liverpool supporters' show of support at the DW Stadium barely got a mention as the media concentrated on the latest Anfield 'crisis' – perhaps Rafa Benitez is, too?

Yes, he is paid well to manage the club but he clearly feels something for it, otherwise why stick it out? Despite what many think of him on these shores, his stock is still high in Europe.

And with the far from ideal working conditions Benitez has had to endure – warring owners, threats of the sack, his job offered to another manager, book-balancing – how many bosses in the same situation would have walked away?

A fair few, I'd wager.

But Rafa has decided to ride the storm, despite offers from Manchester City (twice) and Juventus, and continues to rub shoulders with the most dysfunctional family in football.

Yet his hands are tied. He can't buy players, despite the squad crying out to be strengthened. He can't even rely on his managing director, Christian Purslow, to tie up a free transfer (Marouane Chamakh).

That must breed suspicious minds. Maybe Rafa is suspicious of what is going in the Anfield boardroom – and who can blame him given past events?

And maybe Purslow is suspicious of Rafa. Maybe he thinks he has too much power after his political battle with Rick Parry.

And maybe he doesn't like the unequivocal support he receives from large swathes of the Liverpool fanbase.

Then there's the players. Do they feel like they are caught in a trap? Are they as fed up of the political battles, the finance worries, the broken promises and the lack of the investment in the squad as the fans are?

Are they suspicious of the powers that be at Anfield? Or even more worrying, of each other?

Some players do appear bombproof at times, keeping their place in the side no matter what and hardly ever getting the hook – has that bred division?

Are the factions that are so obviously appearing among the management (Purslow is wining and dining his favourite journalists, Benitez is keeping his allies close, too) a theme amongst the playing staff as well?

There's plenty of whispers that Jamie Carragher isn't the most popular player in the dressing room, his constant berating of players causing some ill-feeling.

There's also growing evidence that Carragher and Steven Gerrard may no longer be the manager's biggest supporters.

And all this without a mention of the lesser-spotted Tom Hicks and George Gillett who continue (for once) to keep their mouths shut as the deadline on their debt ticks ever louder over Anfield.

It all adds up for a rotten recipe that is destroying the club we love from top to bottom and no-one seems to know where it's all going to end.

As ever at Liverpool these days, there's many questions and few answers.

One thing is for certain though – things are not right at the most precious address in L4 and right now the biggest losers are the fans – fans that increasingly, are turning on each other.

Watching players coast through a game that could have salvaged something from a season to forget has cranked everything up a notch.

It's gone from wondering and speculating about what might happen to knowing that there must be something in store.

We've reached the 'something's got to give' stage.

Whatever happens there will still be two constants – the fans and the club itself. Both will still be here after Benitez. After Hicks and Gillett. After Purslow, Gerrard and Carragher.

And come what may – mid-table mediocrity, relegation, administration – Liverpool will go on, somehow.

As Elvis said: 

Oh let our love survive
Or dry the tears from your eyes
Let's don't let a good thing die