Why Liverpool Fans Want Benitez To Do Well

By , December 20, 2012 8:22 am

In the moments and days leading up to Rafa Benitez being appointed Chelsea manager, the thoughts and feelings rushing through me seemed eerily familiar. I had been here before.

Questions were swirling through my mind, unable to grasp the concept of Benitez going to a team like Chelsea. Why would he want to go there? Their fans hate him. Why would he want to put up with Abramovich? A tyrannical owner that puts even Hicks and Gillett to shame. How could he go to a team that is such a rival of Liverpool’s? (I realize many fans disagree that they are our rivals, but like it or not, a rivalry was created and means a lot to many fans). Why would he risk his career going to a club that would sack him for just about anything they wanted to? How did he become so desperate that he was willing to put aside his own visions and ambitions to join a club that clearly has eyes for a younger, more beautiful Spaniard?

Benitez’s claims of wanting a project, to build a club dynasty from the academy to the first team, to have an owner that truly believed in his singular vision and supported him completely, all seemed like lies. He was joining the enemy. A club that epitomizes all that is wrong with football. And did I mention the fans abhor him?

When the news broke, I was crushed. I had convinced myself that through all these questions and belief in Benitez’s own words and character, that he could never join a club like Chelsea. Many argued with me, stating he “needed a job, he couldn’t wait forever, Liverpool didn’t want him so he had to move on, he can win just about everything there with those resources, he will make enormous amounts of money no matter what happens, he’s putting himself back into people’s minds, etc.” All valid and understandable arguments. But I still never thought Benitez would sell himself so short as to be desperate enough to take the Chelsea job. A club with no heart, no soul, and only a bottom-less checkbook to make up for that. This was not the Benitez I knew and loved.

Where had I seen this all before? A little less than two years earlier, another Liverpool man left Anfield for Stamford Bridge. Fernando Torres professed his love for the club and the fans, promising he would never leave. Shortly after, he left. The pain was palpable. I personally had never felt so hurt by a player leaving. I was devastated when I saw the ease with which he disappeared from Merseyside and sauntered down to London. Whatever the reasons, whatever the stories we still don’t know and that no one, including Torres, seems interested in telling us, it hurt. He was going to the enemy. And he was giving the finger to all the loyal Liverpool fans, that stood by him through injury after injury, and sulk after sulk, in the process.

It’s hard to even explain the feelings I had when Benitez became Chelsea manager. I was surprised, dismayed, disappointed, and painfully angry. Much the same feelings I had when Torres took his leave to the same place.

After a few days, I was able to reflect on all those aching feelings of despondency and I suddenly became happy for Benitez. Despite my hurt feelings, I only ever wanted the best for him, and I know I am not alone as a Liverpool fan in feeling this way. It’s like seeing your first love go off with someone else, that you know is not good enough for them and will only hurt them in the end. But if you love and care for someone, you have to let them go.

It was difficult to stomach him going to Chelsea, and that nauseating feeling will never leave. But I want him to do well. He deserves it. Sadly, I don’t feel the same about Torres and never will. While the feelings around them both going to Chelsea were similar, the ways in which they left Liverpool were very different.

Despite Benitez’s poor last season at Liverpool, he is still incredibly revered by most of the fans. He gave the club some of its most wonderful memories and moments. Reading his book Champions League Dreams reminds me of all those wonderful times we enjoyed as Liverpool fans under him, and how that euphoria and pride has seemingly vanished since he’s left. In some ways, I’ve found it difficult to read back in detail all the great moments he gave us without feeling incredibly depressed. It feels like a lifetime ago, when really, it was only three years.

Most Liverpool fans would agree, especially in hindsight, that Benitez should never have gone. He fought tooth and nail for the club and was subsequently dismissed by a club hierarchy that had driven Liverpool into near oblivion. What has followed since then has been nothing short of pure chaos. And all the while, a short ill-fated stint at Inter Milan aside, Benitez sat on the Wirral, awaiting the call that never came from his beloved club.

It is with that in mind that I don’t completely blame him for going to Chelsea, even though it is a club and a fan-base to be completely despised. The fact that I, and many other Liverpool supporters, are willing to put our ire for Chelsea aside simply because we want Benitez to do well tells you how much he still means to the club and its fans.

So you might still be wondering why we would want him to do well at a club we hate, with fans that have summarily dismissed him before he even arrived and have booed his every presence in front of them. Because of what he gave Liverpool. Because he gave us Istanbul, Cardiff, 2nd place in the league, and he made us the team to fear across Europe again. He gave himself to Liverpool, made the club and city his home, and the fans his friends. Most telling of all, when he left the club, he gave £96,000 to the Hillsborough Family Support Group. A cause that was not his own, but that he felt incredibly moved by and attached to. This, amongst so many other things, shows the character of the man.

Yet despite all of that, and despite an excellent win percentage, a European cup, an FA Cup, two Champions League finals, and the highest Liverpool points tally in years, the press, and even some fans, never took to him and wanted him gone. Journalists and commentators found it difficult to hide their hatred for the man, their reasons for which I still don’t know or understand. He was bullied, mocked, and turned into a joke by the English press. He received no respect from them throughout his time at Liverpool, and even less since he has left.

That, amongst so many other reasons, is why Liverpool fans want him to do well. He deserves better than the treatment he’s received and if going to Chelsea and helping them win will force the press and fans into respecting him the way he should be, then I am all for it. At the end of his Liverpool reign, he was tossed aside like garbage. Looking back, it was so disgraceful and foolish, especially when you factor in who he was replaced by, it is hard to believe that’s what actually happened.

The way he was treated by so many makes me sad, and I will never support Chelsea, but I will always support Benitez. A wonderful man, a compassionate human being, and a brilliant manager. Whatever happens, he will never walk alone for all that he gave to Liverpool Football Club.

The Lucas Lesson

By , July 9, 2012 5:10 pm

In just a few short years, Lucas Leiva went from being a midfield pariah, to the rock that anchors Liverpool’s midfield down. It was a transition that was anything but swift, and looking back, I think every fan is amazed he wasn’t driven out of the club. At one point, the vitriol against him was so immense, all it lacked was actual torches and pitchforks to literally run him out of the city.

Lucas’ story is a great one, and for a number of reasons. It taught an ever increasingly impatient fan base patience. It taught players, managers, pundits, and the media that you can’t always rush to judgement on a young, foreign player. And most importantly, it taught everyone what a self-motivated and talented young footballer can achieve when he truly believes in himself and his ability. Add to that Lucas’ uncanny knack to stare adversity in the face and win without even blinking, and you have yourself a player that taught us all a lesson.

To give some context, Lucas arrived at Liverpool as a mere 20-year-old from Brazil. He shined for Gremio and caught the eye of more than one manager in Europe. But it was Rafa Benitez who saw something special in the young Brazilian midfielder and decided he would fit well into Liverpool’s setup.

He joined the team at a time when the Reds were on the rise. They had just competed in their second Champions League final in three years, and were building towards continued success for the future by investing in promising, youthful prospects such as Lucas.

A Young Lucas Looked Increasingly Overawed When He First Joined LFC

Fast forward to the 2008-2009 season, and Lucas struggled. Badly. He was disappointing in a number of performances for Liverpool, so much so that the Anfield faithful took to booing him off after several lackluster games. Benitez, being the kind of manager he is, leapt to Lucas’ defense. He claimed none of us knew just how good Lucas was. And in return, we claimed that Benitez had no clue just how terrible he was. Many, including myself, struggled to see what the manager saw in the diminutive Brazilian.

To be fair, it couldn’t have been easy competing in a midfield stacked with talent. At the time, he was up against Mascherano, Alonso, and Gerrard. And as we all so cruelly remember, the axis of Alonso and Mascherano was phenomenal, and Gerrard’s inspired role behind Torres was ingenious. Lucas was the weak link, and the fans and media were intent on getting him out of the team. At least, I know I was.

Then the bottom dropped out. The 2009-2010 season was a disaster. Alonso was gone, the team were never able to build on their incredible success the season before, and in the end, it all cost Benitez his job.

But, while the team was most definitely on the wane, Lucas was on the rise. With Alonso’s departure, the Brazilian was finally given more responsibility, which he seemed to grab with both hands. His first half of the 2009-2010 season was decent, but he grew in stature as the season went on.

And while the 2010-2011 season (the first half of it anyway) was something most Liverpool fans want to forget, Lucas’ performances were tremendous. Rumors have it that Hodgson actually wanted to flog Lucas off. Thankfully, no such thing happened. He continued his excellent run of form when Dalglish replaced Hodgson mid-season, and enjoyed a wonderful run that saw the team go from a lowly 12th to 6th in about 4 months.

In May 2011, Lucas was voted the fans’ player of the year. He also made the most tackles in the top 4 European Leagues for the 2010-2011 season.

Lucas Showed Fans How Good He Really Was

His barnstorming form returned at the start of the 2011-2012 season, and he was absolutely immense against Manchester City and Chelsea in November. Sadly, his season was cut short from a terrible ACL injury, and the collapse of form of the team following his injury tells you a lot about how much influence he truly began to have. From a player that most would have been happy to sell, to a player that, through his absence, the team around him disintegrated.

In the five years since Lucas was brought to the club, he has undergone a transformation few players have the opportunity to make, namely because time is never on a player’s side when trying to impress a new team. But every fan that maligned the very name of Lucas, was singing his praises last season, and no one could mention the demise of Liverpool in 2012 without uttering what a loss Lucas had been to the midfield. There was an enormous chasm that opened up after his injury, one that was never filled by Dalglish. The team lost its balance, and most importantly, they lost its metronome. Two things Lucas provided in spades.

I honestly haven’t been as impressed with a player’s improvement as I have been with Lucas.

So what does this story teach us? It teaches us to give players time, especially players who come from halfway across the world, don’t speak the language, and are only 20 years old.

But it also teaches the importance of a mentality, belief, and intelligence that belong to only a handful of players ever to have graced the beautiful game. Lucas took the anger that was aimed at him, misdirected or not, and he turned it into a reason to work harder, rather than pack it up and go somewhere more comfortable, somewhere a little easier than the cauldron of cruelty that he experienced at Anfield. But he didn’t.

His story is a brilliant one. For once it wasn’t a player asking what the club and fans could do for him, but rather what he could grab onto deep inside and give to the club and fans. And all that in the face of rancor from every corner of Anfield and every media outlet that needed a new person to beat down.

So while the fans also needed to learn a few lessons, chiefly in their patience skills when it comes to a young player’s development, it was an even bigger lesson for players. Perhaps other footballers will take something from Lucas’ story. Perhaps they’ll walk away thinking that it’s them that have to impress the club and the fans. Perhaps they’ll realize, that deep down, the fans always want a new player to succeed, and that if the player gives it their all and more, they will, and with the fans’ backing.

Lucas has taught us all a lesson. And I hope he continues to do so for Liverpool for years to come. He’s an excellent example of a player you can be proud of. And more than anything, he should be proud of himself for reminding every one of what players need to show the fans, and how the fans should really treat the players. We were lucky he stayed. And if we didn’t learn the Lucas lesson fully, we may not be so lucky the next time a young player like him comes along.

Kenny Dalglish: A Breakup of the Worst Kind

By , May 17, 2012 10:45 am

Disappointed. Saddened. Confused. Surprised. All these emotions and more were felt immediately following the news that Kenny Dalglish had been sacked by Liverpool Football Club. While the fans can’t seem to agree on anything these days, I imagine a great majority felt the same way I did. Whether the decision proves to be the correct one remains to be seen. But right now, it just feels like an agonizing, soul-crushing breakup.

Goodbye, Kenny. Thanks For Everything, Always And Forever

You know the kind I’m talking about. Where there are lots of wonderful things about the other person, things you adore and wouldn’t change for the world. Such as Kenny’s undying love and affection for Liverpool, the institution, and the fans. His passion and electric smile on view every time Liverpool scored a goal. His pure outpouring of emotion when Liverpool reached and subsequently won the Carling Cup final. And most of all, the way you just knew that he, of all people on the planet, understood the fabric of the club like no one else. Since his arrival in the late 1970′s, the process of weaving the club’s DNA into his own had begun. And it continues to this day despite his unfortunate dismissal.

But with the good in someone you love, there are also a handful of things you find difficult to understand, and even dislike. While I believed in Kenny throughout the season, there’s no denying the league position was not good enough. Sometimes his tactics seemed strange. His substitutions would come too late, or not come at all. His squad selection was often baffling as several players were off-form, but still chosen ahead of others who had more to offer. And while I appreciated his surly demeanor with the press, the press obviously did not. And so the smearing began and continued throughout the season, culminating with the crescendo that was the Suarez/Evra debacle.

Despite all this, I trusted Kenny to get things right. And sporadically throughout the league campaign, and 99% of the time in the cups, he did get it right. Many forget that he was working with a team that had several new players, several young players, and that he lost his best central midfielder for almost the entire season with no suitable replacement. The woodwork, lack of clinical finishing, and lengthy suspensions and other injuries affecting the other world class quality in the team all lead to a dismaying league campaign to say the least. But anyone that doesn’t think Liverpool often didn’t get what they deserved based on their overall play throughout the season, wasn’t actually watching the games. In many cases, it was small margins between winning and losing, which can almost be worse and infinitely more frustrating than overall dire displays and performances. While the old saying goes “the buck stops with the manager,” I think the players should take a sizable amount of responsibility for the results in the league. After all, Kenny couldn’t run out onto the pitch and score goals for them, as much as we all would have loved to have seen that.

Like a breakup, sometimes you know when it is time to call it quits. Other times, you feel in your heart it deserves one last go before throwing it all in. I felt the latter. My head understood the reasons for dismissing Dalglish, but my heart believed he had more to offer. Another chance, a bit more time, and things would turn around. And if not, then you would at least know for sure it was time to part ways, however painful that may be.

FSG didn’t see things quite the same way I did. They operated with their minds, and their wallets, in performing a cold, calculated separation as soon as the season ended. Their hearts were not involved and how could we expect them to be? They may know business, but they don’t know enough about Liverpool Football Club to truly understand what a breakup of this magnitude would do to the fans of this great institution.

As with any breakup with someone you still love despite knowing they just aren’t right for you deep inside, it hurts to see them go. You start to think about how you’ll never spend the afternoon with them, share an inside joke, or lie next to them at night. As a loyal and emotional Liverpool fan, it hurts to think of how I won’t get to see Kenny’s goal celebrations, his beaming smile, and utter unbridled elation at seeing his team succeed while putting an arm around their shoulder when they fail.

Other clubs, other fans, and the media will never understand what Kenny Dalglish means to Liverpool and to Liverpool fans. The breakup might be best for our future, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. And to read Dalglish’s own gracious words describing how he wants the fans to be happy with whoever their new manager is, just makes it hurt even more. Because you know he means it. He loves us, perhaps like no other manager can possibly do, so he can truly let us go and wish us only the best.

I hope all fans, no matter if they were for or against Dalglish’s sacking, can understand what the man gave to this team, not just in the distant past, but in the more recent past as well. He united the club after a period of great turmoil and disillusion. He brought us a trophy, three trips to Wembley, and some of the best performances individually and collectively that we’ve seen in years. But more than anything, Dalglish deserves the best in his future just as he wishes that on us. We may never be together as we once were, but Liverpool and its fans will always love Dalglish. I just hope he knows that.

Liverpool: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

By , March 4, 2012 11:57 am

After the ecstasy of the Carling Cup victory last Sunday, Liverpool once again felt the agony the following weekend with defeat to Arsenal. It would seem that every time Liverpool appear to finally be clicking and on their way to a run of successive positive performances and/or wins, they continue to mystify the manager and fans with displays in which they are either dire (think back to Bolton) or unlucky combined with poor finishing (Arsenal, Norwich, United, etc.). Miss penalty, hit post, opposition keeper has a blinder, create chance after chance without scoring, rinse, repeat. This has been the short and sweet illustration of Liverpool’s season thus far.

There is no doubt amongst knowledgeable supporters just how much progress has been achieved in a little over a year since Kenny Dalglish returned as manager. And despite some poor results, poor performances, and results that just wouldn’t swing our way, anyone that thinks we haven’t taken major strides forward is deluded. The style of play since the second half of last season has been mostly excellent. The game against Arsenal was a perfect example of Liverpool demonstrating how they can completely dominate a team with movement, quick passing, and the right balance of players in the side.

Liverpool's Victory in the Carling Cup Was Meant To Propel Them Into the Top Four

Suarez was particularly on form against the gunners, while Dirk Kuyt was back to his old self, combining with Suarez and Kelly on the right extremely well. I for one was overjoyed to see Jordan Henderson in his preferred central role as he once again showed that is his best position. He had an excellent game and was voted Man of the Match by Liverpool.

I was also very pleased to see Spearing reinstated to the side. With Gerrard unavailable through injury, it was no surprise to see a central three of Spearing, Henderson, and Adam, but to me Spearing is essential in these games, especially with the continued absence of the much missed Lucas. With him allowed to cover the back four, whatever combination of Adam, Gerrard, and Henderson can feel free to do what they do best ahead of him.

I don’t think anyone would disagree with the assessment that the central pairing of Gerrard and Adam has been just shy of disastrous at times. Neither are deep lying defensive midfielders and neither wants the role. When they play together, there is a massive gap between them and defense which has left the team alarmingly vulnerable. Spearing in my opinion has done more than enough to earn a place in the side, and if someone must be sacrificed, it should be Adam.

Despite my last statement, I actually like Charlie Adam. What I like most about him is not his “Hollywood Balls,” but his continued effort and confidence in the face of failure. After a succession of bad passes, Adam never ceases to amaze me by still eagerly wanting the ball and continuing to make difficult passes. Against Arsenal, when the penalty was won, Adam enthusiastically ran to take it. Despite taking one of the poorest penalties ever seen against Cardiff, he was committed to atoning for his mistake. I give him credit because many players don’t have the bottle to take that chance with the possibility looming that they might screw up again. Not Charlie Adam.

Unfortunately, beyond his effort and desire, as well as some decent passing, Adam can be shockingly poor. He really is either brilliant or terrible and I can’t seem to figure out what triggers the great performances and what triggers the bad ones. But isn’t this the very same conundrum that has plagued Liverpool all season? Consistency is the buzzword of our campaign and it has yet to be found anywhere we look.

What was missing against Arsenal? Goals, pure and simple. Tactically the team was set out great, they created a whole host of chances, good chances, that were denied by the bar, the goalkeeper, confidence, some bad luck, and some poor finishing. Alas, once again, the story of our season. Does the lack of finishing make this a poor side? Not in my opinion.

Robin Van Persie Showed Liverpool What They Are Painfully Missing With His Clinical Finishing

I love watching Liverpool play when they play like they did against Arsenal, or Chelsea earlier in the season, or Norwich, or Newcastle, or any of the other great games they’ve had. Some of those they’ve won, but many (too many) have been drawn or lost due to some much needed good luck and of course, some clinical finishing. A poignant fact shoved in our faces adding insult to injury by watching Robin Van Persie have two touches, two shots, and two goals all game. What we wouldn’t give for someone like him in the side.

At the beginning of the season, when this pattern of domination and creation, but lack of scoring started to emerge, it felt like only a matter of time before the goals would flow. It’s now March and we’re still waiting. Liverpool have one of the worst chance conversion rates in the league and one of the lowest goal tallies of any Liverpool team in years. It’s shockingly obvious where the problem lies, but I can’t seem to figure out why or when this happened.

The second half of last season saw the Reds regenerated, playing some electric football (the 5-2 against Fulham comes to mind) and scoring plenty of goals. Then the well dried up. With even more attacking threat from a fit Carroll, Suarez, Kuyt, Adam, Downing, Henderson, and Gerrard, the team has scored far less goals and draining confidence began to take its toll. Instead of expecting to score with a shot, they expect to hit the bar or have it saved. How to change this pattern of thinking is up to Kenny and the players.

But it feels like the flood gates are bound to open at any moment. And when that happens, this team will be fairly unstoppable. You combine the great play, possession domination, and some decent finishing and so many of this season’s draws and losses become wins. If results went our way, we would easily be up near Arsenal and pushing toward third.

The most concerning issue Dalglish has at the moment is trying to figure out what his best team is. I still don’t think he, or the team, knows. Combine that with players still getting to know each other, certain players still searching for confidence (Downing, Carroll), and players out from injury (Lucas, Gerrard, Agger), and this season’s results make more sense.

It’s especially disappointing for the fans because every time the team plays well and gets a good result, they do the opposite in the following game or game after. But overall, the team is moving in the right direction. It was always going to take at least a season for this team to be completely overhauled and gel, and the performances show we’re on our way. The only thing missing are the results and all important goals. Not to say those things are easy to change, but there is enough of a platform to jump from at this point.

Some much needed firepower and top class players should be bought in the summer. Why no one was purchased in January is a mystery to me. Newcastle didn’t need any help scoring goals, and they went out and got another striker in January. We have been desperate, and yet for whatever reason, that wasn’t made a priority. This summer, it must.

At this point, the only good thing about ostensibly being out of the fight for fourth place is that perhaps the team can relax and play without pressure. This is what they did in the second half of last season, and they played fantastically well because they really had nothing to lose. You get the feeling this season that a lot of the new and younger players have felt the enormous pressure that comes with playing for Liverpool and it has hindered their confidence and performances. Take away that pressure, and we might just push it close. And let’s not forget winning the FA Cup which is still a genuine possibility.

It’s absolutely been a season of two steps forward and one step back, but we are slowly inching our way forward and playing better and better as the season has gone on, as well as already securing one of only four trophies on offer every season (one of three if you’re not in Europe). I have complete faith in Kenny Dalglish and the players to get things right. I, like many other fans, just need to accept it might take longer than we wanted it to. Such is being a fan and such is being a fan of Liverpool at the moment. But I believe the most important thing is we are moving forward and the future continues to look bright. After all, at the end of the storm, there’s a golden sky. So let’s walk on until the end of the season, giving the team our support every step of the way, whether it be forward or backward.

Liverpool, Suarez, and Why I Think Dalglish is King

By , January 4, 2012 5:19 pm

Please excuse my lengthy piece on the matter, as I realize the whole Suarez affair has been extremely upsetting and exhausting for everyone involved with Liverpool Football Club. And most of all, for Luis Suarez himself. One of the major issues with everything that has happened since that fateful day back in October is the way it has drawn whole sections of England and even Liverpool fans apart. You may agree with what I have to say, or not. Either way, I will respect your opinion even if I don’t believe it myself. This is much the case with the FA, but I am personally having a more difficult time than some accepting the way they’ve handled this case, dished out its punishment, and gave reasons for their decision based on the term ‘probably.’ I am also finding some of Liverpool’s handling of the case poor, in only so much as to how Suarez was represented. I firmly believe Liverpool’s players and Kenny Dalglish have done everything right in their support of Suarez, and I salute their bravery in the face of countless media articles, opposition fans, and even anti-racist organizations turning on them. This must be acknowledged, because as much as some people simply want Liverpool to just roll over and move on, like they would have done under the previous regime, it’s nice to know the team will stick by someone, believing 100% in their innocence whether others do or not.

I read the 115 page FA report, cutting into my New Year’s Eve festivities to do so. At first, I found the reading to be very uncomfortable with the allegations about what Suarez said. It wasn’t pretty, and I thought after the first few pages that Suarez may in fact be a truly awful person despite all obvious evidence to the contrary (mostly referring to his jovial nature, electric smile, and passion for the game. He may be snarky at times, but that is what makes him a great player, not necessarily a horrible human being.)

But as I continued to read, I began to feel puzzled, confused, then I started to laugh. I was laughing at the ridiculousness of the claims, the lack of corroborative evidence, and the pure lack of evidence at all. When I finished page 115, I kept scanning back thinking I had missed something. But no. The FA had no real evidence on which to base their judgements on. Simply that they somehow found Evra a more convincing and reliable witness than Suarez, even though Evra was not the one on trial, therefore Suarez is found guilty of racially abusing him, but is also not a racist. Confused yet? I was, and still am.

Who Do You Believe When So Much Is At Stake?

Before I go any further, I’d like to point to some other articles that have broken down and analyzed the report, as well as some other articles on the subject. I agree with their sentiments, and while I’d be happy to do the breakdown myself, I would just be repeating what others have already said very succinctly. A great piece by Stuart Gilhooly, the solicitor for the Professional Footballers Association of Ireland, can be read here. A few great pieces on the Anfield Wrap here, here, and here. This post by @joescouse_LFC is also a great read regarding the breakdown of the report’s numerous inconsistencies. Plus the excellent language dissection by Professor in Hispanic Studies at Brown University, Aldo Mazzucchelli here. (Also, while in the middle of writing this piece, Paul Tomkins has of course trumped me with his own excellent article here. A must read, and so much of it I agree with).

Any logical person who has read the report, Liverpool fan or otherwise, can see the glaring inconsistencies and bias that is there. And when I say bias, don’t misunderstand that I think the FA and all of the footballing world have it in for Liverpool. While it sometimes does appear that way, I simply mean bias in the FA’s strong correlation between Evra’s events and the truth, despite no evidence or witnesses to support it. And of course, because the FA published its reasoning, the media takes that as word on high that they must be right, no matter how flawed their reasoning is and no matter how many times they use the word ‘probably’ or some variation thereof.

There are two things that some have casually mentioned, but that I find astoundingly atrocious when reading that report. The first is the FA explaining that while they believe Suarez is categorically NOT a racist, they basically explain his comment to Evra simply as ‘heat-of-the-moment’ and ‘we’re all a bit racist sometimes.’ I am appalled at this comment and the logic with which it is brought about.

From the horse’s mouth:

Paragraph 342: We asked ourselves whether a player (Suarez) with this background would make the comments that Mr Evra alleged. We took all these points fully on board and thought long and hard about them before finding the Charge proved. We dealt with them in the following way.

Paragraph 343: Mr Suarez’s background as described by him in his statement raised doubts in our minds, in the first instance, as to whether he would ever make the alleged comments. We recognised that Mr Suarez’s background together with the seriousness of the Charge, meant that a greater burden of evidence was required to prove the Charge. We formed the view that, overall, the preponderance of the evidence favoured the FA’s case.

And here’s the kicker, Paragraph 344: We took into account the fact that it is a real albeit unattractive trait of human nature that we all act from time to time, to greater or lesser degrees, in ways which may be out of character. This is especially so when we feel under pressure, or challenged, or provoked, or pushed into a corner. We do and say things that we are not proud of and regret, and that we might try and deny, sometimes even to ourselves. We occasionally do or say things that we would be embarrassed to admit to family or friends. It is not inconsistent to have black colleagues and friends and relatives, and yet say things to strangers or acquaintances about race or colour that we would not say directly to those closer to us.

And their incomprehensible conclusion, Paragraph 345: Bearing these considerations in mind, whilst we were initially doubtful that Mr Suarez would make the comments alleged by Mr Evra, we proceeded on the basis that the factors relied on in relation to Mr Suarez’s background and experiences did not mean that he could not or would not act in this way. We weighed these considerations together with all the evidence when asking ourselves whose account was more probable.

Why am I appalled by this part of the report? Because the FA has basically said that people in a highly tense situation will of course say something racist, but would never say the same things to their best friends of another race because that would be too embarrassing. This is so insulting and bizarre to me, someone who despises racism and prejudice in all its forms. And the fact they can come up with the conclusion that despite Suarez having NO history of anything he was being accused of, having a grandfather that is black, playing with black players, and being involved in a charity that supports and encourages young black and white children to play together and stamp out racism, they STILL believed that he must have said what Evra alleged. If anything, with all their decisions based on ‘probabilities’ and ‘likelihood’s’ this would make Suarez LESS likely and ‘probably’ impossible to racially abuse someone in the way he is being accused of.

The second of the astounding atrocities is the confusing manner in which the FA on one hand defends Suarez, giving him some benefit of the doubt when it comes to his limited use of the English language and the way he may feel nervous at having to defend his good name in light of such serious charges. Yet, they neither seem to care or believe that those two things could be why there were some inconsistencies in what he said. And on the flip side, the way that he speaks his own language has somehow been summarily dismissed as wrong because Evra, someone with the ability to converse in Spanish, but by all means not fluent, especially in Suarez’s dialect, claims Suarez said something that Suarez refutes. Personally, I’m going to believe the person who grew up speaking that language and is fluent in it, but obviously the FA does not.

On that note, as many others have stated in the articles I linked to above, despite what you may believe, I am not defending a ‘racist’ in my defense of Luis Suarez. Accusations like this are beyond me. The club, manager, players, and many fans believe he is innocent of the allegations of being a racist and using racist language. The part where many people differ is their understanding and the importance they give to the idea that there may be – brace yourself – cultural and language differences between two different cultures and languages. I know this may be hard to grasp for some, especially it seems from the English speaking countries like England, but it’s true. I think we can all agree that Spanish and English are undeniably two different languages. There, I’ve said it. Get out your pitch forks and start lynching.

A great comment was made by Glynn on The Anfield Wrap’s article Suarez: Why the Guilty Verdict Was Correct stating, “That’s a fairly reasonable article, however, like the media at large, you also are taking the English literal meaning of the five letter word which Luis has admitted using (negro) and presenting it as proof of Luis’s guilt. There’s no attempt to explore the meaning in the cultural-linguistic context in which it was originally used – and that this is dismissed as not even being worthy of discussion smacks of xenophobic arrogance.” This is excellently stated, and concisely explains what I said above.

On this basis, I just cannot understand how people keep pointing to the fact that Suarez admitted using a word, which to him is completely harmless and not only not racist, but not insulting either, as clear evidence that he’s guilty of racially abusing Evra. Think about it for a second. If everything we said in one language was insulting to someone in another, we’d all be apologizing everyday for everything we say. Doesn’t the FA’s logic on this seem completely illogical?

Many also keep pointing out that: ‘ignorance is not an excuse.’ Really? It is a perfectly good one to me when Suarez, by his own admission of using the word, clearly had no intention of insulting or racially abusing Evra. Because if he did have those intentions, it would be much easier to lie and profess that he said nothing at all. And if what he admitted to saying was misconstrued by Evra as something racist, how is that Suarez’s fault? He was honest (perhaps too honest seeing how horribly he’s been treated over all this) in saying what he said because he felt he had nothing to hide. I, as I’m sure many others, have also done this in their lifetime; been honest in a situation where we had nothing to hide, but were found guilty of something anyway because of the way it was perceived by someone else.

If this was such a grievous mistake made by Suarez, then shouldn’t the powers-that-be have done the right thing in just explaining to Suarez that despite him speaking in his own language, they found it abusive and therefore unacceptable? Giving him a one-game ban and explaining to Liverpool and every other club that foreigners need to be given better lessons on understanding the culture they are now living in? Surely this kind of scenario should have been sufficient for anyone even if it does reek of xenophobia.

Perhaps if Evra had attempted to discuss what he thought he heard with Suarez, the ref, and the managers before making the accusations to a television channel, then Suarez would have easily been able to apology for any misunderstanding and clearly explain what he meant in saying what he did. People have told me I’m foolish for thinking of this and it could never be an option. And clearly a logical, sound, and rational approach to all this from the FA was also never an option after reading their report. I don’t know how I could be so silly as to think that they would be any of those things with such a serious charge being made.

To comment on current rumblings, in regard to those in the media, Man United corner, and any opposition or Liverpool fans that agree with the notion that Suarez should now apologize for what he’s done, let me say this. Saying he should apologize is an outrageous thing to ask when they are referring to an apology for making a racist remark, which he categorically denies he did. If anything, maybe an apology for the simple misunderstanding on the part of Evra, but never, NEVER should he be made to apologize for something he didn’t do which is racially abuse Evra. From my own negative experience of a similar situation to Suarez’s, where I was being accused of all kinds of outlandish things by people around me, none of which I was guilty of, did I ever think that apologizing was right. I knew in my heart of hearts that I did nothing wrong, and at the end of the day if someone else felt otherwise, that truly was their problem and not mine. I think Suarez feels much the same as he continues to deny doing anything malicious or racist in any way, shape, or form.

I’ll make two more comments about this whole sad and sorry affair.

First, I’m not excusing some of Liverpool’s misguided tactics in all this. It seems to become more and more clear that their handling of the situation as far as preparedness of Suarez and other witnesses, as well as the lawyers chosen were perhaps not the best. So many on various websites, forums, and twitter have been able to logically dispute so much of what was said it’s almost incomprehensible that an institution as big as Liverpool didn’t have the absolute best representation in their corner. They seemed to have screwed up royally in some ways that made it difficult for Suarez to truly defend himself.

But this is also not to say that I think what Dalglish and the team has done was ever wrong. Obviously the media see the support of Suarez’s manager, teammates, and fans as blind favoritism and in turn they are of course supporting a racist, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Dalglish, to his great credit, has stood by his player in the face of criticism from every corner. Read the transcription of his press conference after the Manchester City game here and you can see that he is defiant and still 100% believes in Suarez’s innocence, while also condemning the ‘blind’ favoritism the FA and media have for Evra. This is what makes Dalglish so brilliant, and why Liverpool fans will always see him as the king. While Suarez may be young, and relatively unknown to the British footballing world, Dalglish is not. Anyone that doubts his sincerity and integrity throughout his prominent career as a player and manager is sorely mistaken.

Which brings me to my second point. I want everyone to imagine being in this situation themselves. If your good name was sullied across the country in every national newspaper, blog, Twitter account, Facebook page, and forum, and you knew yourself to be completely innocent of what was being said, would you not try and fight for yourself? Would you not expect those closest to you, who know you better than everyone and who know the truth as you do to stand up for you in every way they can? Perhaps I find this more difficult than most as I’ve been in a similar personal situation where I had ONE person on my side, and no matter how hard I fought, how hard I tried to prove what was said about me was untrue, and how much I pointed to the past as an example of why those things would never be true, no one believed me. Sometimes it’s easier for people to believe one thing over another based on their own prejudices, biases, and mistakes they’ve made in the past by projecting their negative (and ill-informed judgements) onto others. I would hope that most would want the same support Suarez has received if they were in his shoes, and would also offer it to someone they truly believed was innocent. By all means let’s “Kick Out Racism” from the game, but not by slandering someone based on no evidence, who is most likely innocent if not completely misunderstood in this situation.

To conclude, I feel for Luis Suarez more than anything. Neither him, nor Liverpool, and even to a certain extent Evra and Man United, have come out of this smelling like roses. But Suarez is the one that has to live with these unfounded accusations the rest of his life and especially his footballing career.

Not only that, but say a scenario occurs in the near future, maybe next season, or two seasons down the road where an opposition player is having a torrid time against Suarez, much the way Evra was having on the day in question, or felt aggrieved at a decision that went in Suarez’s favor against him, and he felt in the heat of the moment to accuse Suarez of racial abuse after the match. Despite it not being at all true, and simply based on this player’s word, the FA will look to this current case and decision as an easy way to convict Suarez again and have him permanently suspended. Serve the ban, pay the fine, whatever. But this isn’t a case of a bad tackle where a player serves his suspension and it is easily forgotten and never brought up as evidence next time he makes a challenge, a challenge which can easily be proved on video evidence. This is the man’s career at stake on the word of someone else. A word with no evidence behind it. A word that has yet to be corroborated. By anyone.

And just as this incident was ‘proven’ based on one man’s word against another (despite the FA so cutely saying that this just wasn’t the case), what’s to say that won’t happen again? No one has believed Suarez thus far despite nothing against him holding water, so even less evidence is bound to find him guilty too. This is what I find most disturbing and worrying for Suarez’s future as a world-class player. So forgot how you feel about Suarez, forget he plays for Liverpool, or whether or not you deem him a racist, forget the ban and the fine. Simply think about how easily he was found guilty based on one other person’s word and how easily that could happen to you, your star player, your wife, brother, parents, or child. Then see if you’ll feel the same way Liverpool did in their defense of Luis Suarez.

In Memory of Steve Jobs

By , October 6, 2011 1:16 am

*This blog is usually dedicated to football. Since I don’t own another blog, it was the only place I could post my thoughts on the passing of Steve Jobs.

As the news of Steve Jobs’ passing made its way into my otherwise uneventful Wednesday evening, I was taken completely aback. Many will say his death was not a shock since it so recently followed his stepping down as CEO of Apple at the end of August, but death has a strange way of always being a surprise, no matter what events precede it.

I was riding the train home when I read the news on my iPhone, while simultaneously listening to my iPod, with my iPad in close proximity tucked away in my purse. As I walked through my front door, reeling with heavy thoughts from the loss of such an important person in today’s culture and now history, I sat down in front of my iMac and heard its warm hum as I clicked it awake. Too tired to sit at my desk, I opted instead to sit on a soft chair with my Macbook Pro propped on my lap. This is where I now ruminate and record my reflections on Steve Jobs, and how apt that it should be with one of his many incredible inventions.

It’s difficult to explain the affection one develops for someone they didn’t actually know. Despite how silly this may sound, it happens constantly in our lives with the prominence of celebrities. How did people feel when Elvis, John F. Kennedy, or John Lennon died? Millions have wept at the loss of a genius, a forward-thinker, an innovator, or a great artist that they never knew in person. The reality is that these people touch so many lives without every needing to be in the same room. That’s because ideas, products, music, and art transcend daily interaction and enter people’s hearts on a different level than anything else. In turn, we feel closer to the creator of all those things, almost as if we really did know them. Steve Jobs is no exception.

Just one day after I took to Twitter and Facebook to defend Apple’s name and reputation, Jobs was taken from us. The point I was trying to make to people (who were already moaning about the introduction of the iPhone 4S) is that Apple did itself a slight disservice by revolutionizing so many parts of our lives. By giving us incredible, nay, magical innovations, Jobs simultaneously got people so used to this kind of technology that they now took it for granted. Think of it this way: the iPhone was introduced to the world in 2007, a staggering FOUR years ago. Before then, touch screen devices with that level of computing were only seen in films that were set in the future. Now, they’re as commonplace as the home computer.

Jobs’ list of qualities range everywhere from genius and charismatic, all the way down to rude and arrogant. No one would ever deny Jobs had his flaws, but what he excelled in and what he will be remembered for, are not those flaws. In fact, I kind of believe in the idea that no one is perfect, but I choose to focus on the positive things they gave – and Jobs gave a lot.

It’s easy to run down the list of things Jobs was involved in and created. The iPod and iTunes have almost single-handedly revolutionized the way we listen to and share music. The iPhone revolutionized the way people communicate, play, watch, listen, and interact. The iPad continues Apple’s proud tradition of innovation and computing in the 21st century. And the countless versions of the OSX operating system, software, laptop, and desktop computers that have been made and have entered more and more people’s homes over the last 13 years shows the unbelievable upward trajectory of what Jobs set out to do. Although I’m sure even he didn’t expect to build the world’s most valuable technology company.

With all that said, probably the most important characteristic of Steve Jobs was his ability to tell stories. And not just tell stories to people about how he believed technology could change their lives in so many fantastical ways, but in developing the technology to allow people to tell their own stories to others.

My story goes something like this: I bought my first Powerbook in 2002 after I had discovered Final Cut Pro 3 and absolutely fell in love with editing. This innovation of hardware and software has since allowed me (and countless others) the ability to tell our stories through the magic of (affordable) non-linear editing. In almost 10 years since buying my first Apple product, which I will admit, I struggled to get used to after so many years on a PC, I have since bought or owned a Powermac G5, MacBook Pro, iMac, 5 ipods, 2 iPhones, an iPad, and an Apple TV. I have never looked back as more and more over the years these inventions have bettered my life. Not because they were a “thing” I needed to own, or because I wanted to feel cool for owning them, but because they gave me the medium in which to tell my stories and create my art, while simultaneously helping me collect all the things I loved in one easy place.

For those that dismiss Jobs for his flaws, I urge you to take a deeper look at what the world would be like without ever having him in it. It’s not just about the “stuff” he made, the profits he sent soaring through the roof, and the way he revolutionized the computer, music, and mobile-phone industries. He was a man that wasn’t afraid to dream and had the courage to turn those dreams into reality. He saw the power in combining artistry and technology, and we now know, what he really saw was the future.

In his commencement speech at Stanford in 2005, he famously said in regards to the twists and turns his life took, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards.” He continued, “Because believing that the dots will connect later down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference.”

Steve Jobs followed his heart, and encouraged everyone around him to do the same. He loved Apple with every fiber of his being, and that love and passion was infectious. He spent the best years of his life making it into what it is today. Despite illness and death staring him in the face, he continued his journey to create and in turn help others create for themselves. Without him, the world would be a lesser place filled with Discmans and Windows. A place where you can’t listen to the song you have stuck in your head at the touch of a button. A place where you can’t slide your finger across a screen to make a phone call. A place where movies, photos, and music aren’t fostered daily by anyone who has the inspiration to create. A place devoid of life because people don’t have the necessary tools to tell their story. This isn’t a place I’d like to live in, but the world Jobs created is where I am lucky enough to call my home.

Love him or hate him, Steve Jobs changed the world as we know it in more ways than one. His legacy will continue to live on and grow just as he always wanted it to. To conclude, no one could say it better than the man himself:

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”- Steve Jobs

You most definitely changed the world, Steve. Thank you and rest in peace.

Who Really Cares About International Football?

By , September 6, 2011 1:04 pm

The three month long wait over the summer for the Premier League to begin sometimes felt excruciating. Weekend mornings were dulled and it became difficult to fill the empty space. And as much as I enjoyed a very entertaining final few games in the women’s World Cup, as well as the Copa America (despite the commentary being in a language I couldn’t understand), it just wasn’t the same. It was only on August 13 that everything felt right with the world. As the season began with as many plot lines as there are super stars now at Man City, it was once again put on hold for a few international qualifiers coupled with a handful of friendlies. Seriously, is this really necessary?

I love the World Cup and the Euros as much as the next crazed football fan, but I could certainly live a happy life never having to watch the national teams play otherwise. I used to enjoy international football, even friendlies, because it was exciting to see how each country was shaping up, and when Liverpool’s players were playing, it provided even more incentive for interest.

Now I really don’t care. Whenever one of these ridiculous international breaks come up, I pray to the football Gods that none of Liverpool’s players get injured (and perhaps a cheeky prayer that some of the opposition players do). All we ever seem to see after an international break is players limping off the field after the manager promised not to play them too long, accompanied by poor results in the league that following weekend.

I just can’t seem to wrap my head around the placement of these international breaks. Although due to unfortunate circumstances, many English players dodged a bullet not having to play a friendly THREE days before the Premier League began. Who on earth decided that was a good time to send these players away to play international friendlies? And I’d love to know the genius who decided that not only would it be great to have internationals a few days before the season kicks off, but again in three weeks time.

You see, momentum is a strange thing. Games can change in an instant and certain events occur in a split second that swing momentum in a positive direction. I think most Liverpool fans, as well as Manchester United, Manchester City, and even Wolves fans would agree that momentum was building for their clubs after the first three games of the season. To halt that momentum with a two week break where club managers have to entrust national team ones with the health of their best players is far from ideal.

I can’t even count how many times Benitez reluctantly handed over Steven Gerrard and Daniel Agger to England and Denmark respectively, and was in turn handed back a broken midfielder and center back. It’s gotten to the point that managers have started to beg and plead with their players not to play in these games unless it is absolutely crucial.

Steven Gerrard Has Been Injured Countless Times Playing For England

And friendlies? Give me a break (no pun intended). Friendlies need to be played with younger or second string international players, or at least with the first choice players not playing the full ninety minutes.

And more to the point, who exactly is watching these international games? Unless it’s a major tournament, who really cares how well San Marino play against Uzbekistan in a friendly?

That’s not to say there aren’t big national team followings, and there are a lot of football fans who only follow international games. I am in no way discrediting their passion or nationalistic pride.

But at the end of the day, these players are not paid by England, or Argentina, or Denmark. They are paid by and extremely important to their club teams and it has become a shambles how distraught the relationship between club and country has become. Club managers no longer have any faith in the respective national team setups and are constantly forced to make changes when players come back injured.

I have two suggestions to rectify the pestilence that is the international break.

Number One: Qualifying for major tournaments happens over ONE period of a few weeks each season. Qualifying becomes almost a mini-tournament in itself and teams are seeded to allow the teams to play as few games as possible.

Number Two: The qualifying games are to be played during the summer, or during a winter break. Now it’s true that at this moment in time, England does not have a winter break, but perhaps they should. This would give players a much needed rest during the year, and give the opportunity for international games to be played without disrupting the leagues when the season is in full swing. Players and managers in the UK have long advocated for a winter break as it seems pretty successful in other European leagues.

Even if both suggestions were combined and some qualifiers were played during the summer, and the other ones played during the winter, it would help the leagues, help the players, and perhaps even attract more fans to the international games.

I think more than anything that club fans have started to despise these breaks because they come at such awkward times in the year. Maybe the love for international football would return if it wasn’t thrust upon fans at the worst possible times in the football calendar.

And even more to the point, what do fans and players alike value more, international level football or the Champions League? The Champions League has become such a massive tournament every year that many value its importance and difficulty to win as the holy grail as opposed to winning the World Cup. Playing in the Champions League has become the pinnacle for footballers as so many made abundantly clear upon their transfers in the last couple of years. If you’re not in the Champions League, you don’t have a hope in hell of signing top class players. Liverpool have certainly had to learn this lesson the hard way.

Even so, a lot of players still take a lot of pride in playing for their national team, and that’s great to see. Spaniards, Uruguayans, Brazilians, and the Dutch all take enormous pride playing for their national team, whereas English players see it as more of a hinderance. This is evident in how these countries perform on the world stage and the attitude the players bring to the team.

So what is the solution? For better or worse, international football is one side of the game as a whole and the club vs. country row will continue forever. The only way forward is for FIFA and each country’s domestic league to come up with a better system in which to balance both sides of the footballing coin. And no matter what they come up with, it has to be better than what there is now.

Dalglish Has The Right Attitude

By , August 26, 2011 12:37 pm

I understand priorities. I deal with them everyday. Deciding what is more important and what to deal with first, second, third, etc. is a daily occurrence for most people. So it doesn’t surprise me that football managers prioritize too. They decide what game is more important and what players to start. Depending on the importance of the game, that can determine who plays and why.

A lot of fans as well as the media often jumped on Benitez’s back for all his prioritizing. It was obvious he focused his sights on Europe. So much so that it gave the impression he wasn’t as concerned about the league or the domestic cups.

I can’t lie, I too was frustrated watching Fernando Torres rested in a league match if there was a Champions League game to think about. Because it seemed that points were often dropped due to this and while a great cup run is always wonderful, Liverpool fans are ready for the focus to be on the league (and all domestic fronts in general).

This season poses an interesting set of circumstances. As we all know, Liverpool will not be competing on four fronts. Europe was too far a reach last season, and whether good or bad, we are not in European competition.

Some see this is as a great opportunity to focus on the league, and the domestic cups. With no European distractions (and even more importantly, no European hangover), the team should realistically be able to field strong starting XIs for just about every game.

If Benitez didn’t have Europe to contend with, perhaps he would have given more thought to the league and started his best team every week. It’s hard to say.

But one thing I will say about Dalglish’s approach so far this season, which was evident following Wednesday’s win in the Carling Cup, is that he isn’t afraid to field a strong side in a game that might not be deemed as important as another. When many teams believe the competition isn’t worth their time, and it’s silly to risk first team players, Dalglish believes otherwise.

“We said before the game we’d make changes. But we also said it shouldn’t be taken in any way, shape, or form as a sign of being disrespectful towards Exeter or the Carling Cup. We are Liverpool Football Club and we will try to win every game that we’ve got to play.”

Dalglish continued, “I think the most important thing was our attitude to the game and I think we started it in the right frame of mind.”

Dalglish’s quotes concisely encapsulate how I feel about Liverpool. I’m not an advocate of the attitude of being disgruntled or annoyed by “lesser” competitions like the Europa League or Carling Cup. I want Liverpool to be playing in and winning everything they possibly can because that’s what this club is all about.

Argue all you want about how the team needs to build back up to being a stronger squad in order to not have to prioritize so much. But my feeling has been and always will remain that “We are Liverpool Football Club and we will try to win every game that we’ve got to play.”

Nice to see my manager feels the same way.

Liverpool Need to Let Their Heads Catch Up With Their Hearts

By , August 19, 2011 8:57 am

I was as disappointed as any Liverpool fan last Saturday when the team managed a measly 1-1 draw with Sunderland. It wasn’t just the scoreline that disappointed me, but the manner in which it was played. “Hoof and Hope,” the mantra that has now become our perennial second half way of life, did nothing to ease the tension and anxiety within the stadium, or for those watching worldwide. As cliched as it is, this truly was a game of two halves and while the team ended on a sour note following the final whistle, perhaps we can continue to take heart in the way the first half was played.

It’s easy to forget the first 45 minutes after having to endure 45 dour minutes of the second half last week. There was no cohesion, no movement, no energy, and poor, sloppy balls were given away all over the pitch. The momentum from the first half, despite an appalling display from referee Phil Dowd, should have propelled Liverpool to pick themselves up, score a couple of quick goals, and put the game to bed.

As we know, the game did not go this direction. When the team was 1-0 up and the cracks started to show, the final whistle couldn’t come quick enough. When it was 1-1 and Sunderland attacked threatening a winner, I think the recurrent thought running through everyone’s head was, “here we go again.” It could easily have been a loss on the opening day of the season, something all too familiar in recent years. And in some ways, this draw felt like a loss because of the team’s inability to kill the game when the opportunities arose in their completely dominant first half exhibition.

But I digress. The first half is what we should all focus on. Because at the end of the day, had Suarez converted the penalty, Richardson been sent off, Carroll’s goal stood, and Downing’s fierce drive just tickled the underside of the crossbar, we would be top of the table with four or five goals tucked away and a victory brought about through creativity, movement, and sublime skill from multiple players. As much as the draw hurts, the encouraging signs were there that great things are to come.

So do Liverpool fans need to be patient and await for the pieces to click? I tend to think so, but Kristian Walsh makes a good point in his piece Why Context, Not Patience, Is Needed on the Kop Blog.

Walsh writes, “An excellent opening 45 minutes was immediately eradicated when Dowd began the second half. Larsson’s goal acted as a switch; agitation and restlessness followed, both on and off the pitch.”

Walsh continues, “Anfield knew what this newly-constructed side was capable of already. This wasn’t impatience, this was anxiety and frustration – anxiety at not getting the result the first half performance deserved; frustration that the anxiety was well-founded.”

I think he hits the nail on the head. Liverpool fans are smart enough to know how good the first half performance was. The issue of disappointment arose when the fans felt that while they performed more than good enough for three points, it was still not earned. How many years has this happened to good Liverpool sides while simultaneously watching Manchester United perform under par and still gain the three points? Frustration does not even begin to describe it.

Even so, I still believe Liverpool and Liverpool fans need to practice some patience. But the kind of patience I think we need is not patience for the team to click, they’ve already shown us at the tail end of last season and in the first half against Sunderland that they click very well.

The patience needed here is between our heads and our hearts. Every Liverpool fan across the world wants so badly for the team to win and achieve the trophies and prestige that has eluded them for five years, and in some cases, 20 years. The fans’ love beams from the deepest parts of their heart for the players, the manager, and everything having to do with Liverpool Football Club, no matter how well or poorly they do.

The difference is, for maybe the first time in that 20 year span, the fans finally feel like they have the manager, players, and owners to achieve great things. The heart (the fans) believes we have already won, while the head (the team) is still catching up.

We know what Liverpool is capable of, and despite a disappointing draw, there is no reason to change the way we feel about the club. The head will soon catch up, and until then, well, the heart wants what it wants, don’t it?

Crouching Liver Bird, Hidden Transfer

By , July 6, 2011 10:51 am

*Update
In between the writing and posting of this piece, the Charlie Adam deal finally went through and he is indeed having a medical at Melwood tomorrow according to the official site here.

Ah, the transfer market. There truly is nothing like it. The agony and the ecstasy all rolled up into one. The joy of a fantastic capture in one hand, and the disappointment of a lost opportunity in the other. There really are only so many world class players out there, and plenty of different clubs competing for them. So far for Liverpool in this transfer window, it’s really been a case of frustration more than anything else.

Who Will Be Wearing The Liver Bird On Their Chest Next Season? *Photo courtesy of Kit Nelson

That being said, we have been told from on high to be patient. The powers that be have been and are continually working on bringing in the best players for the team that they can. The fact that John W. Henry came “face-to-face” with the fans by responding to their anxiety on Twitter should tell everyone something. But does it calm anyone down? No, not really.

We are anxious to get the ball rolling. And when the club vehemently told the fans after the super quick procurement of Jordan Henderson that they would attempt to secure transfers quickly to have almost everyone in before pre-season, it seemed a fait accompli all transfer business would be done by then. That time has come and gone as pre-season began this week.

So what are we to make of the secrecy involving the transfer targets? Fans begged for the return of “The Liverpool Way,” but then we hypocritically can’t stand it when we don’t know what’s going on. It’s very difficult being on the outside looking in when you’re trying to look through a piece of frosted glass.

Newspapers don’t help with their pages full of “transfer rumors,” sometimes containing the most ridiculous and out-of-this-world piece of transfer nonsense. But it’s not for lack of trying, or even full disclosure. Many journalists may have more information than they are allowed to reveal, which leaves them in the unfortunate situation that the clubs are also in; tell & you die, don’t tell & the fans will kill you.

The saying goes: “Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it’s much more serious than that,” but surely no one should die over anything that happens in the silly season. At least we hope it doesn’t come to that. But with Charlie Adam having his 10,000th medical tomorrow, and Aston Villa rejecting another bid for Downing, it’s becoming increasingly aggro in the world of Twitter, fan forums, and even blogs when it comes to Liverpool’s transfer dealings.

The real question that keeps cropping up is whether any of these “rumors,” that is any information about transfers full stop, are actually true at all. No one except for a select few inside Liverpool know who Liverpool Football Club are actually targeting. The Clichy, Wickham, Adam, and Downing possibilities seem plausible enough because actual bids were made, and the other club revealed that they had turned them down.

But those aside, who is Liverpool FC really going after? Will Juan Mata be the club’s marquee signing? Is Jose Enrique still on Liverpool’s left-back radar? Is there any truth to the rumor they are interested in another Spanish star, Santi Cazorla?

Unfortunately for those of us looking in, we won’t know until the papers are signed, the official website makes an announcement, and a medical, an actual medical conducted by the club when they specify, is done.

Until then we must all live in the haze and mystery that surrounds the transfer market, wishing and hoping for the best players to choose us over anyone else. But luckily for us, a new dawn has descended over Liverpool with new owners, a new manager, and hopefully plenty of new players in place before next season. Liverpool Football Club finally has a lot more to offer than just a successful history. They can now offer a successful future as well, something we hope players realize when they make their final choice for a new club.

*Great Liver Bird picture courtesy of Kit Nelson

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