I wear two hats when I write this blog of mine. First and foremost, I manage a small charity in a small Scottish town called Dumfries. Ours is a front door that opens onto the darker corners of the crumbling world that is Britain 2015. We hand out 5000 emergency food parcels a year in a town that is home to 50,000 souls. Then, as you can see from all of the book covers above, I am also a thriller writer. If you enjoy the blog, you might just enjoy the books. The link below takes you to the whole library in the Kindle store. They can be had for a couple of quid each.

Saturday, May 4, 2013


I have a slightly uneasy feeling as I kick off this blog. A worry. Am I in the process of turning into that bloke who sits a couple of rows behind you and does nothing but moan all through the match? Christ, I hope not. Two moaning blogs in a week where we have gone up to St James’s Park and won six nil certainly has the feel of that old git in the cap a few rows back.

Believe it or not, I make a point of never having a moan at the match. ‘In-match’ moaning has always seemed like an Old Trafford sort of thing and something to be avoided at all costs. The only time I ever have really been tempted to get into full on slagging off mode was during the dark depths of the Hodgson era. Actually, that isn’t quite true. There were also a few times during the desperate days of Souness, Torben Piknic and Julian Dicks. But I can say with absolute honesty that I never actually succumbed to such Mancish behaviour and turned on the team on the pitch.

To be honest, I am pretty confident that I never will. It seems that if you start going the match to slag off the team, you might as well go the whole hog and buy a season ticket in the Stretford End.

That said, slagging off the dickheads who are making a mockery of the club off the pitch seems to be absolutely fair game. It will take a lot to convince me that Fenway Sports Group and Ian Ayre are anything but bad news. Brendan? I really feel like I ought to give him the same support that we always give our managers, but it is getting harder all the time.

His endless management speak is seriously annoying, but it would be a bit harsh to completely condemn him for it. The thing is that he just keeps spouting stuff that really gets on my nerves. No matter how I try, I cannot get by the fact that everything about Brendan looks and feels like a ‘Yes’ man. Our beloved American owners obviously had no faith whatsoever in the fact that King Kenny would put looking after their investment first. They were right enough about that. Kenny Dalglish was only ever going to look after the interests of one thing and one thing only: Liverpool Football Club and its supporters.

FSG clearly hated that. They wanted someone who would jump when they picked up the phone and instructed them to jump. And they hired Brendan.

More and more, Brendan seems to be like a scared kid who is desperate to avoid getting the cane. His handling of the latest Suarez affair seems to have been all about frantically trying to prop up the player’s transfer value. Would Shankly or Paisley or Fagin or Dalglish have given a shit about transfer value? Not a chance. All they would have been bothered about would have been the great name of Liverpool Football Club and nothing else. Mind you, can you imagine in a million years that Luis would have had a go at biting Ivanovic had Bill Shankly been sitting in the dugout?

Aye right.

This week Brendan has really pissed me off with the drivel he has been spouting about not wanting to be in the Europa League. In every respect he seems to be desperately trying to peddle the company line.

We would rather not play in the Europa League because it would interfere with our tour to Asia and Australia. Who gives a shit about some tawdry shirt selling exercise in Asia and Australia? We are Liverpool for Christ’s sake. European nights are at the very core of our being. Who cares if we have to start in July? I never heard Rafa moaning when we kicked off our Champions League campaign against Total Network Solutions in July 2005.

Oh, but we will have too many games and we need to focus on getting into the Champions League. Oh, come on. I listened to Peter Reid on this subject a few months ago. He asked a series of questions to Jamie Redknapp. Was the tackling harder or easier when I played, Jamie? Harder. Did the referees allow more ‘reducers’ when I played, Jamie? Yes. Were the pitches better? No. They were mud baths. Was our diet better? No. Was our training regime more scientific? No. Did we need rotating? No. Do Messi and Ronaldo get rotated? No.

I am just a supporter and I have never played a game of pro football in my life so I feel at times like I have to take all this stuff about players needing resting at face value. But Peter Reid certainly did play plenty of pro football and if he reckons it’s a load of bollocks, then that is good enough for me.

Anyway. Who says we have to play the first team in the Europa League? There is no reserve football any more so half of the players in the squad spend week after week doing nothing but train and get bored. How is it not a good thing for the likes of Shelvey, Suso, Sterling, Wisdom, Assaidi and lots of others to get 15 games under their belts in Europe?

Then we get the usual 'know it all about the modern game' types who get all serious and holier than thou and say there isn’t enough money in it. This is where my blood really starts to boil. Let’s imagine we managed to get to the quarter finals. That means eight home games. 40,000 a game at £20 a head. That’s £3.2 million. The prize money would be about £2.5 million. The TV would be about £1.5 million. All in all, it would bring in just over £7 million. Just because that is a lot less than what you get from making the quarters in the Champions League, we are all supposed to turn our noses up and say that such thin pickings are somehow beneath us.

What a load of utter crap.

Before anyone starts down this particular track I suggest they consider this very relevant fact. For the last three years Robert Lewandowski has been paid £20,000 a week to lead the Dortmund line. As in a million a year. That is what they pay. In Dortmund, £7 million pays the wages of seven first team regulars. Last time I looked they are down to play in the Champions League final in a few week’s time. Maybe those in charge at Anfield would do better to focus on spending our money as wisely as the managers in Germany rather than whinging on about there not being enough cash in the Europa League.
I get so completely sick of hearing the excuse that we can’t compete because United and Chelsea and City and Arsenal have more money than us. I remember doing a few back of a fag packet calculations when Argentina took on Germany in the quarter finals of the World Cup in South Africa. On paper the Argentinean squad was worth £500 million and then some. The largely unknown Germans were valued at less than £100 million. So according to the money is everything theory, there could only be one result. It didn’t work out that way of course. The Germans completely hammered them four nil. One side had great organisation and team spirit. The other side were falling out with each other and managed by a basket case. Money never came into it. With better management, we could make £7 million go a long, long way. Just like Borussia Dortmund.

However none of these things comes close to the one that really pisses me off. Our owners and executives and Brendan go on and on about how much they treasure us, the fans. In fact they treasure us enough to have hit us with a thumping price hike for our season tickets at a time when most of us are getting kicked in the teeth by the recession.

If you cared to stop the ‘yes man’ act for a minute or two Brendan, you might consider this. When have we seen the best atmosphere at Anfield this season? Europa League nights. Why is that? It is partly because European nights under the lights will always be magical at Anfield. It is partly because at £20 a ticket, these games give the chance for thousands of fans who have been priced out to actually go to a match and support the team. Younger fans. Fans who live close enough to walk to the match. The same Scousers who once upon a time could afford to stand on the Kop. These are the nights when all the old songs get dusted down and given an airing. These are the nights when Anfield feels like Anfield used to feel. But, hey. That is of no importance when compared to disruption of a shirt selling tour to Asia and Australia.

And Brendan, have you stopped to think about where these Europa League games appear on the tele? The Mancs love to take the piss about us appearing on free TV on a Thursday night. But they are and always will be a bunch of tossers. There are hundreds of thousands of Reds who cannot run to £45 a month for Sky. Europa League games give them the chance to watch the lads on the box for free. That should mean something. It obviously doesn’t.

One last thing. You will have to go a long way to find a more optimistic Red than me. All of us who there in the Ataturk Stadium will always be optimists. How can we not be? But even I cannot see any way that we will win the league next year. And we certainly won’t win the Champion’s League because we ain’t in it. But we definitely could win the Europa League. And wherever the final is, there would be thousands of Reds making the pilgrimage to get there.

That is what I thought Liverpool Football Club is supposed to be all about. Winning stuff. Lifting trophies. Not hawking shirts around the globe and gearing everything to the Holy Grail of finishing fourth and earning more cash.

Sadly, it seems like that is the Liverpool Football Club of the past. All we seem to be now are a series of numbers on a Bostonian balance sheet.

And it stinks.           

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