ON Sunday, May 24, Liverpool lost 6-1 to Stoke City. Remember that day? Shortly before that, on the 16th of May, they’d lost 3-1 to Crystal Palace at home. Both games had represented ‘lasts’ for Steven Gerrard, beyond the procession of ‘last game against’ moments that had followed his announcement some months earlier. His last home game… his last ever game… surely the boys would put in a shift to mark his departure with a flourish?
It wasn’t to be, of course. But do you remember those games? I mean, it was all of five-and-a-half weeks ago. Do you remember them? I mean, really? The feelings you had? The notions of things not being quite right on some fundamental level that you couldn’t quite identify?
Even the most level-headed of fans were losing faith in the manager. In an article for The Guardian, for example, myself and Sean Rogers of this very parish, both (I’d like to think) reasonable and level-headed types, teetered either side of the ‘should he stay or should he go’ debate. My view was that another manager should take the helm, while Sean’s was that he deserved another year and that there were bigger issues to resolve behind the scenes — the type of issues that would hinder any manager, at any football club; like a lack of a joined-up recruitment strategy, or an ability to act quickly to land key targets. I read his views and found myself nodding in agreement — it was in the balance for Brendan as far as I was concerned.
Time has passed since then, and as they say, it heals all ails. By the time you read this, it’ll be closer to six weeks since the game at the Britannia. Not that long, really; but for some reason, it seems like an eternity. Why is that? Well, two things.
1. The club has, through its own channels, remained largely silent on the issues in question — no fuel has been added to those particular fires.
2. A lot has happened (much of which has been announced simultaneously ‘en masse’).
Here’s the timeline of the ‘communicative events’ that have issued forth from the club and the media since that day — Ground Zero, if you will, in Stoke. Is it any wonder we’ve been swept along to a different place?
Day 1: Club pays tribute to Steven Gerrard, and Brendan Rodgers apologises for Stoke defeat.
Day 2: Club confirms Wisdom and Toure’s contracts extended. Range of newspapers report that a review meeting will take place with FSG representatives in the first week in June, and that the club are after Benteke.
Day 3: Silence from the club. Newspapers report the club will sign Ings.
Day 4: Silence from the club.
Day 5: Silence from the club. Newspapers report the much vaunted “Review”.
Day 6: Silence from the club. Klopp links emerge.
Day 7: Silence from the club. Klopp leaves Dortmund.
Day 8: Silence from the club. Newspapers confirm the club will sign Milner.
Day 9: Silence from the club. Newspapers confirm that Rodgers will stay on as Liverpool manager and that a ‘comprehensive plan for improvement’ has been put in place.
Day 10: Silence from the club. Newspapers report that Skrtel is unhappy with his contract offer.
Day 11: Club confirms that Milner will sign. Newspapers report that Rodgers staying on was a condition of the signing.
Day 12: Silence from the club. Newspapers report Pascoe sacked, Marsh’s contract will be allowed to lapse, and that the club will look for more experienced coaches.
Day 13: Silence from the club. Newspapers report bid from Man City for Sterling.
Day 14: Silence from the club.
Day 15: Club confirms that Ings will sign.
Day 16: Silence from the club. Newspapers report that Klopp’s agent says he’s interested in Liverpool, and that the club will bid for Clyne.
Day 17: Silence from the club. Newspapers report that Liverpool have rejected a £25m bid from Man City for Sterling.
Day 18: Silence from the club.
Day 19: Club confirms that Bogdan will sign, and that Johnson and Jones will leave.
Day 20: Silence from the club.
Day 21: Silence from the club. Newspapers report link to Gomez, and likelihood of improved bid from Man City for Sterling.
Day 22: Silence from the club. Newspapers report that Lijnders will be promoted, and that Sunderland will bid for Coates.
Day 23: Silence from the club.
Day 24: Silence from the club. Premier League fixtures are released. Newspapers report £40m bid from Man City for Sterling.
Day 25: Silence from the club. Newspapers report the second bid from Man City is rejected.
Day 26: Silence from the club. Newspapers report bid for Firmino and that Gomez deal is complete.
Day 27: Club confirms that Gomez will sign.
Day 28: Silence from the club. Newspapers report that, as well as Benteke, the club are looking at Bacca and Rondon.
Day 29: Silence from the club. Newspapers report Firmino will sign, and that the club are “eyeing an experienced coach to work alongside Rodgers”.
Day 30: Club confirms Danny Ward contract extended. Newspapers add detail to Firmino story, and describe role played by Ian Ayre in the negotiations.
Day 31: Club confirms that Firmino will sign.
Day 32: Silence from the club.
Day 33: Silence from the club. Newspapers report second bid for Clyne.
Day 34: Silence from the club. Newspapers report that Bacca interest will be dropped, and that he’s likely to sign for AC Milan.
Day 35: Silence from the club. Newspapers report that club will sign Clyne.
Day 36: Silence from the club. Newspapers report that Sean O’Driscoll will be the new assistant manager.
Day 37: Silence from the club. Newspapers report that club will sign Bobby Adekanye.
Day 38: Club confirms that Clyne has signed.
That takes us to July 1. And in among all that, we’ve had the FA Cup final, Champions League final, the UEFA Under 21s Championships, the Copa America, the Women’s World Cup, and of course, people have been off on their holidays, going to Glastonbury, watching the tennis or the golf… having a life. Time passes, and wounds heal; but not everyone heals at the same rate.
We’re human — even the people we think are mental on social media. We get so emotionally invested in the fortunes or otherwise of our football club and spend so much time manically ingesting information from every conceivable channel on the subject that it’s surely inevitable for people to respond in extreme ways, particularly against a backdrop of silence from the club on the questions on everyone’s mind. It creates a feeling of bewilderment… and there’s the point.
In hypnosis, one well documented way to induce a subject is to overwhelm their senses and create conditions of confusion. Against that backdrop, the subject will reach out for anything that their brain can process as making some kind of plausible sense. That’s why we rationalise, and look for patterns where perhaps none exist. That’s how magic eye pictures work — our brains see something that makes no sense and work hard to try to make sense of them on our behalf. You look at the clouds, or the dots on the roof of the car, and your brain starts seeing shapes and faces and patterns. Are the faces angels, or are they demons? Deep down, all we want is for it all to make sense, and for the bewilderment to stop… even if bewilderment and chaos is all there really is.
I read that Guardian article again this morning from the 25th of May and found myself swayed far more to Sean’s version of events than my own. Is that rational? Six weeks ago my stomach was in my boots and, like most people, a rage simmered gently under the surface of my every waking action. Since that time we’ve had rumour upon rumour, and theory upon theory. Does it mean this? Or does it mean that? We’ve seen Gerrard, Johnson, and several others depart through the exit door alongside Marsh and Pascoe, with Sterling almost certain to follow. Milner, Ings, Gomez, Firmino and Clyne have arrived in the opposite direction, with Lijnders and O’Driscoll confirmed in the dugout, and a striker likely to follow.
Things have changed, to a pretty dramatic extent, and not in the manner that many would have had us believe they would. We don’t know yet how things are structured, and we don’t yet know how much authority Rodgers has license to wield. It’s bewildering. Against that backdrop of so much information, so much change, and so much uncertainty, it’s only natural to want to believe that these changes represent a pattern. But are they evidence of the “comprehensive plan for improvement”, as we were promised? Or are they evidence of the opposite? Do we see angels, or do we see demons? Either way, it’s only human nature. We should maybe be more tolerant of each other in light of that fact.
I’m not saying the club has created this confusion and bewilderment, by the way — confusion and bewilderment lie in the eye of the beholder, and we’ve only compounded it while they wisely kept schtum. Whether the beginnings of a pattern are really emerging from that soup, there really is no way to know — not for certain. Will we see angels? Will we see demons? Only time will tell.
Pics: PA Images/David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo
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“I’m sorry, I can’t come on the phone right now dear reporter, I’m signing 6 players and 2 coaches at least, in between holidays, cheers”
I agree the anger from the period after the Stoke game has subsided for me. Don’t know why that is: simply the passing of time or a reaction to a coherent plan for the future which has been executed (in part).
After the Stoke game I was appalled that Gerrard was to bow out in such ignominious fashion. What were the rest of the lads at? Did they not want to salvage something from the season for Stevie?
That last question has made me think about the dynamic in the dressing room at the time. The club started last season reeling from the near miss of the season before and the loss of our star man. We never really got out of that fug all season. How positive an influence was Gerrard towards the end? He was clearly pissed off at seeing his role being marginalised. Was the atmosphere in the dressing room toxic? The interview with Rick Parry I thought gave an interesting insight on Gerrrard: the demand for a new contract in the immediate aftermath of instanbul. I’ve taken what Parry said at face value. If it is correct it obviously portrays Gerrard as being petulant, self obsessed and arrogant. Maybe not unique characteristics for the modern day footballer and also harks back to some time ago but the feeling still lingers with me that perhaps things were really very bad among the players.
Time for positivity. New players. Changes in the coaching staff. Time to look forward to next season and a fresh start
As you allude to, we all need constant information. When we don’t get it from official sources, it’s confusing.
I like to see myself as a rational fan, but for some bizarre reason I find myself hankering for the OFFICIAL CONFIRMATION on our new signings. When they come, I laugh at them and find them weird and unnecessary. The other day they uploaded a slo mo video of Clyne putting his shirt on atop the roof of Chapel St. I just want to see a still of them on the pitch with a shit scarf, held aloft with the manager. I don’t know why. I put it down to this information addiction.
But I’m glad the club aren’t talking. I like Rodgers, but the less I hear from him, the better. We don’t need any more feet in mouths. We just need quiet, decisive action to fix the glaring problems. So far, so good, I say.
Tell you who else is eerily silent – the conspiracy theorists. The people convinced we’ve been bought to bleed dry financially, by people who don’t want to spend anything and who are happy to see us nowhere. Wonder where they’ve gone.
I think at the end of the day, the Stoke game was just one game, and was basically irrelevant in terms of league position. Anger over a result like that is completely fair, but as it had no real long-term consequences, it’s rational that the anger associated with that result subsides in the long term as well.
Whether you’re pro, anti or neutral, the silence is good. Get your business done first. That’s what made us the finest club in Europe: results not speculation.
I too have really appreciated the silence from the club over the last few weeks.
Because I am pretty optimistic about LFC, and started from the point of view that I was expecting evolution not revolution to be the approach to any changes after last season, I have not been looking for, or expecting big announcements. (So angels for me.)
It is to be welcomed that the club, rather than create hostages to fortune with some PR blitz about what they are doing to rectify the failures of last year, have just got on with execution.
I hope supporters will take the positive from this improved execution and not then show a collective loss of faith or nerve, when the almost inevitable hitches happen in remaining deals, or when the club “fails” to land a player who it was never in for in the first place.
I love you
Ha, it makes me laugh to be honest. It’s a shame someone can’t harness the passion the Liverpool fans feel and somehow turn it into energy. What would get generated in a single month would probably be enough to power China for ever.
I think angels and demons is really apt. There are thousands of questions regarding Liverpool and a host of information and misinformation out there to sway our thinking. One thing I’ve learned though, from following TAW’s articles and comments closely is that the information whether excellent or just pathetic is irrelevant. It comes down to the person’s interpretation and that’s defined by their personality.
The cunt next door to me who phones the council when my dog jumps into his garden or the police when my daughter has a party with loud music or looks away in disgust when I say ‘hi’ because we’ve made eye contact and has 3 different supermarkets delivering food every week because he’s so anti-social, is a Liverpool fan. I’ll tell you now he’ll see a demon. I don’t speak to the prick but I know he hates Rodgers, I know he hates FSG. I know he thinks Sean O’Driscoll is a failure. I know he hates the greedy Raheem but also thinks the club fucked up. I know he wants Benteke to fail. I don’t need to ask because that’s how he is. Gareth wrote an article last year that said about the haters getting back in their box in the good times and springing back up at the first sign of trouble. It’s demon or silence. They’ll never see an angel. I’m losing patience with the idea that we should “maybe be more tolerant of each other in light of that fact” (that it’s human nature). I’ll be honest, it’s crossed my mind whether a program of euthanasia (decided by me) would be such a bad idea.
Me personally, I’m intrigued and looking forward to seeing what Rodgers can do this season. Paul Cope’s made some good points recently on the podcast. Appointing O’Driscoll is a clear indication that FSG back Rodgers because Rodgers clearly wanted him. A few weeks earlier he said the silence might be a policy of switch off for x weeks and really relax. Come back fresh. Liverpool FC is the greatest circus in the world. The scrutiny is relentless. Every word is analysed and twisted. It’s the summer. They all need to get their heads together, especially Rodgers. I know it’s odd in the scheme of things, especially Pascoe and Marsh but do we need to hear Rodgers say, he’s a great signing for us, we’re really pleased he choose us because he had other offers on the table. I think this shows our, and especially the owners, intent blah blah blah. I don’t. Actions speak louder than words for me. We got them. The back room is in place (though that caused hysteria earlier in the week because it hadn’t been sorted even though it’s the summer break). I’d rather Rodgers just switched off. FSG don’t follow the rule book and that’s something we may have to get used to plus they do things how they want. Truth is, I may not condone it but I certainly don’t blame them for their silence. Right or wrong, every word they’ve said publicly gets thrown back at them in some capacity. I know what I’d think and it starts with fuck and ends in them.
That said, the truth to all the questions being asked at the minute is actually somewhere in the middle of the two extremes. I see two degel’s to every one angmon. Towards the end of the season I started thinking the club had lost it’s way. Now, I feel I can see some direction. Everyone involved cares and wants us to succeed. We’ve got a good track record of learning from mistakes under FSG. I’m hopeful we’ve learned from last summer. I’m hopeful things can be different. The fact that I think like this now means if we do see demons then I can’t complain later because I think it could work too with who we’ve bought. The biggest threat is Benteke. If he fails then it undoes everything good we’ve done. The onslaught will be vicious, malicious and sustained from my neighbour. My biggest fear is that 5th is a massive failure yet top 4 is so so hard to achieve with the seasoned quality in it. I’m on board the roller coaster anyway and whatever happens i’ll be up and down, high and low, happy and sad, angry and euphoric and aggressive and respectful. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ll go with the flow not the agenda. What’s the measure of ya pleasure? It’s all about results!!!
I’ve always been a strong backer of Rodgers – and one of those who think that Joe Allen is actually a pretty good footballer when he’s fit – and a great deal of that comes from his record without Suarez.
Suarez was massive for us. Beyond words. But Rodgers did just fine when he was banned and started last season well. The difference was Sturridge. To me, you give Rodgers the right tools and he’ll get the results.
So what we need to do is get another Sturridge. Not Suarez. That’s never going to happen. But Lacazette is available, even if it costs us beyond “value.” He is as much there for the taking as Angel DiMaria or Juan Mata.
The striker situation will make all the difference between angels and demons for me.