By Danielle Warren
AS Paul Tomkins wrote in his piece “It’s Time To Move Forward As One,” we, as fans of Liverpool Football Club, need to find some kind of common ground at the moment. The petty squabbling and bickering that is eating away at Twitter as we speak is unhealthy, not just for the club, but for each fan’s individual well-being.
The emotional angst everyone is feeling is hard to put into words, because in reality, there’s nothing yet to talk about. So instead, we all decide that being at each other’s throats is better than just sensibly waiting and seeing what happens.
And I should know. I’m just as guilty of it as anyone.
But beyond the trivial Twitter and Liverpool forum disputes, the one noticeable thing among many supporters right now is the incredible hypocrisy I read and hear left and right. Don’t misunderstand, this is not meant as an attack on anyone specific, and again, I am also guilty of it, but at this moment in time, hypocrisy is rife among Liverpool fans.
Here’s the problem in a nutshell: As Liverpool fans, we don’t want the club and its nascent owners to dismiss and destroy “The Liverpool Way,” which means many things to many people, but most principally the conducting of the club’s business behind closed doors and the values and traditions that set this club apart from all others.
Yet, right now, almost everyone who preaches this “Liverpool Way” is exploding with rage at the owners’ reluctance to share any kind of developments and claims their interest in making Liverpool a soundly-run business spells death for any kind of tradition the club treasures.
So which is it?
Conduct business professionally and courteously in private, or tell the media and fans of every movement before it’s been finalized?
Look for ways of making the money that is needed to make the club successful and put in place a structure that will develop for years to come, or hold on to tradition and refuse any kind of opportunity to progress and move forward?
As much as I’m dying to know what’s going on, the only reasonable way to resolve the appointments Liverpool need to make right now is to do so in private, and only release news when everything is finalized and official.
Even though fans want to know everything, many would be shouting from the rooftops if news was constantly leaked, claiming that it makes the club look stupid for not having the business acumen to conduct their business in private.
But this is just one of the many hypocritical stances taken by Liverpool fans at the moment. The hypocrisies that have really been making my head hurt for months are the modern versus traditional, and money and Champions League versus trophies.
Let’s get one thing straight and out in the open right now. There is no ONE right answer. This is where black and white blurs into a pale shade of gray. This is the subjective side of football where it really just depends on what each individual feels is more important to them.
So, just as those who want “The Liverpool Way” intact, but also want to know everything that’s involved in FSG’s process of filling the recent vacant positions at the club, there are also many fans who scream loud and clear about needing the money to compete for trophies and Champions League places, but scoff just as loudly when FSG find intelligent, and sustainable ways of obtaining that money.
For example, I understand many people’s reluctance to embrace the upcoming behind-the-scenes documentary about Liverpool, but in the US, these types of shows are extremely popular and will reach a lot of people who could be potential new fans of the club.
And since most big clubs in Europe are targeting the markets in the US and Asia, it makes perfect sense to move in this direction to gain more fans in these parts of the world.
Whether it is a success or not, only time will tell. But the point is that FSG are looking for new and broader ways to expand Liverpool as a brand around the world to earn the money that supporters so eagerly crave so we can buy the best players and be as competitive as possible.
Then there is the trophies versus 4th place debate. This one has been raging for a long time, but was brought into clear focus this season as Liverpool were on course to win 2 domestic trophies, but miss out on Champions League qualification. (Although this season was strange in that 4th place has not garnered a coveted CL spot. I feel for Spurs as that could have easily been us hitting our target and still missing out).
Fans have been debating all across the world, on Twitter, on forums and blogs, and podcasts. Aren’t clubs supposed to win trophies? And more importantly, doesn’t Liverpool exist to win trophies?
The answer is complicated because of the money from the Champions League that now erodes the traditional game. Yes, winning trophies is what any club should aim for. But at the same time, clubs like Liverpool need the money from the Champions League to compete for the best players, and also the most desired trophy.
So what’s the right answer? Again, there isn’t one. Many fans think the fondest memories and best experiences with the club are when we win trophies.
Those who made it to Wembley three times this season wouldn’t trade that for 4th place in the league. But, there are many fans who would have happily traded those cup runs for 4th, or should I say, 3rd.
Ideally, we all want both. But as Chelsea have proven, even with an enormous and expensively assembled squad, it’s difficult to mount a top four challenge while also maintaining great cup runs.
That debate will continue to rage on. But the major hypocrisy, the one that absolutely makes my head spin, is that of the modern versus traditional fight to the death (at least, that’s how some make it out to be).
I was crushed to see Dalglish leave the club. I felt he deserved another season, and I truly believed he could take the club forward. But FSG decided it wasn’t to be. And many believe his sacking was the death knell of “The Liverpool Way” and all things proud and honorable about being a Liverpool fan.
While I don’t like that Dalglish was sacked, somewhat coldly by FSG, I can also understand why they did it. And to me, it is in no way symbolic of the Liverpool we all know and love dying.
Yes, something died that day and it was simply Dalglish’s job. His love for Liverpool isn’t going anywhere, and neither is the fans’ love for him. He bravely stepped in when Liverpool needed him, and he will continue to support the club for the rest of his life.
But the hyperbole of some to state that his sacking meant that Liverpool have completely and irreversibly lost its heart and soul is just too much. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.
The bottom line is that fans want the club to move forward, earn money, compete with the best, and win the best trophies. Yet the fans also want the club to stay rooted in its traditions without any kind of compromise, to have money without wanting to earn it from new and different ventures, and to compete for and win trophies, but not at the expense of getting in the Champions League.
Basically, the fans want to compete with the best and want oodles of money to spend on the highest quality players. But we also want to win by keeping our integrity in tact. And apparently to some, the owners are destroying the Liverpool legacy and its integrity by having the audacity to try and run the club as a successful business in order to buy those top players and win the trophies the fans want so badly.
We can’t have it both ways.
You can’t just say, we want the money, but don’t want to change anything about the club.
In order for the club to progress, things need to change. But this doesn’t necessarily have to be a negative thing as so many are making it out to be.
For many fans, it doesn’t seem possible that we can move forward into the future while keeping our core values in tact.
A future, I might add, that despite fans’ protestations, needs money to compete and win. But that is simply not the case.
We need to embrace the new with the old, combine the traditions with the modern ambition. Merge money and soul as one so that the club can maintain its status as one of the elite, while also holding onto all the things and people that have made it what it is.
To my fellow Liverpool fans, the message is simple. We cannot have it both ways. We cannot crave the money to make us successful, but then refuse it because earning it would mean we’re not Liverpool any more. But then hate the fact that we aren’t successful because we’re not seeking that money that would make us successful and on and on and on. This is truly the height of hypocrisy and it is everywhere among Liverpool supporters at the moment.
Maybe I’m naive, but I believe that “The Liverpool Way” and the modern game, which, like it or not, makes it absolutely necessary to have money to win, can co-exist.
We are and always will be Liverpool Football Club.
No owners, managers, or players will ever change that. I love Liverpool, and at the end of the day, I want this club to be as successful as it possibly can be.
If you think it can’t be without losing its identity, then you’re wrong. Because we, the fans, hold the identity of this club. And if I’m not mistaken, despite the arguments, hysteria, and hypocrisy, we all want what’s best for Liverpool, now and always.