A lot of things have been pissing me off lately. Allow me to share. It might help.
As I write this I’m veering between a right old rage and a fit of the giggles at Conservative blogknob Iain Dale’s attack on ‘ghastly’ Liverpool.
Let’s save that for another day. Lots to get through.
Slightly higher on my list of what for ease of reference we’ll call ‘statements dripping with utter arse dribble’ is a lovely phrase from Tim Rich’s Observer match report of the Wolves game.
Let’s enjoy it together and give Tim his dues:
“His achievements have given Kenny Dalglish a line of credit not available to the likes of UBS or Northern Rock. He could have survived an early exit from the Carling Cup and a home defeat by Wolverhampton Wanderers, which so bankrupted Roy Hodgson’s regime. Instead he has won both, although with the kind of fortune that was forever denied Hodgson, Wolves might have snatched a point.”
The kind of fortune that was forever denied Hodgson.
That’s special, that. What good fortune was this? An alien invasion making off with Wayne Hennessey? Two disputed penalties in our favour? A goal deflected in off a bloody beach ball?
Nope, just a narrow victory in a match the same reporter acknowledges Liverpool ‘just about deserved’ to win. No alarms and no surprises, just a bit of a struggle against solid opposition.
By that measure, Roy Hodgson was lucky in all but about three of the 12 competitive wins he managed to scrape together with Liverpool.
West Brom home, Bolton home and away, Napoli home. Take your pick. But for individual, fortuitous moments of quality he’d have been gone before Bonfire Night.
The biggest slice of good fortune that ever came that man’s way was being presented with the stewardship of Liverpool Football Club, a job for which he was in no way qualified.
That he lived down even to our lowest expectations both in performance and demeanour should be to his eternal discredit.
The fact so many football writers still trot out such rubbish, such casual, throwaway nonsense in defiance of all critical thinking only strengthens the view of some fans that the media is a closed shop of insiders, seeking to look after those whose faces fit at the expense of readers who are owed veracity above all else.
Which brings me neatly on to Paul Hayward – and, you’ll be glad to hear, the point.
When I first read Hayward’s piece on Dalglish I nodded through much of it. He’s a fine writer – one of my favourites on the nationals – and the accurate criticism of some of our failings so far this season was balanced well by an overall appreciation of the scale of Kenny’s task and vision.
Then I came to this:
“All Liverpool fans knew what they were trying to get away from (poor signings, inconsistency, excessive cosmopolitanism).”
‘All Liverpool fans…’ is a depressingly familiar start to many a sentence in pieces about us over the last few seasons.
Maybe I’m paranoid (I am), but is any other set of fans lumped together in quite this way?
Alan Hansen was at it before the season began, claiming in a BBC column I’m sure he wrote every word of that ‘all the Liverpool supporters think they are going to win the league.’
Did we? Do we? Maybe a few do, but I’m not sure you’d find one in 10 as blinkered as to believe we’re definitely going to win the league this season.
Most fans I’ve spoken to will at best say they believe we could win the league, possibly. In general we’re just happy to have our club back in some kind of recognisable form, hoping for a load of goals and a sense of momentum.
Or perhaps we all do think the same. Perhaps we’ve approached each of the last 21 seasons convinced we were champions elect.
Maybe we’ve repeatedly ignored the evidence of our own eyes to indulge in some particularly logic-defying groupthink.
Actually that sounds more like the sportswriters themselves.
Back to Hayward then, who not only tells us what we think but assures the world we dislike ‘excessive cosmopolitanism’.
Now I’ve chewed over that bizarre construction for a couple of days.
What does he mean? Too many foreigners? That’s what he means, isn’t it? We don’t like too many foreign players.
I suppose we best expressed this in last term’s player of the season awards, subtly hinting at our bristling hostility to outsiders by voting Lucas, Kuyt, Reina, Meireles and Suarez our top five.
The songs we still sing for the likes of Luis Garcia and Sami Hyypia are testament to our abiding xenophobia, while the reverential silence when the names Konchesky or Cole are mentioned reflect our eternal John Bull-esque veneration of true British grit.
It certainly explains why South American imports Jordan Henderson and Andy Carroll are being unfairly criticised by sections of our support, while Bootle-born Jose Enrique is hailed as our signing of the summer.
I suppose there are some Liverpool fans who think we’ve had too many foreigners at the club, just as there are some Liverpool fans who support political parties somewhere to the right of even the aforementioned Mr Dale.
Such is life. We’re all different. But to suggest that a significant portion of the Anfield support are concerned principally with the provenance of players rather than their quality is as absurd as it is insulting.
Perhaps we would be champions several times over had we preferred David Martin, Darren Potter or Stephen Wright over imported talent. Their subsequent career trajectories suggest otherwise.
Our failings down the years have been down to the likes of Pennant, Ruddock and Babb as much as Gonzalez, Cheyrou and Morientes.
Bad signings have cost us. Bad owners have cost us. Lack of cash to strengthen at crucial times has cost us.
But on the whole we’re not xenophobes. We’ve taken more foreign players to our hearts than most clubs, and even though we recognised their deficiencies there is goodwill in many of those hearts for the likes of Traore, Biscan and Dudek.
It’s another point which is depressingly easy to tear apart with a little bit of evidence, but it’s depressing how often this happens.
Week after week, even in otherwise half decent newspapers, we and the world at large are told what we think.
We distrust foreigners, just like we loathed Hodgson because he was a southerner, or just like we all think Gerrard’s the only good player we’ve got.
This kind of calumny might well be directed at other clubs’ fans. Hopefully some will read this and fill me in.
I can only speak from experience, and my experience is that too many of the people paid to write about our club and the game in general are happy to reach for lazy generalisations which diminish both them and us.
For every Rory Smith or Tony Barrett there are a dozen charlatans who never question the collective wisdom of their Sunday Supplement inner circle.
And that’s what’s really been pissing me off.