Editorial – Issue 45, Winter 2000
By Steve Kelly
From Issue 45, Winter 2000
Well, shall we go through it with a fine tooth comb – or shall I just shoot myself right now? I’m not talking about the team, obviously, but of last issue’s editorial. “Houllier has been in charge for a year and maybe that isn’t quite long enough to start making judgements yet, but NOTHING has changed. Nothing at all”. D’oh!
In my own defence, I will say that this was written shortly after the Worthington Cup exit. If I’d try to be all smiley smile hope and joy after the September and early October we’d just had, a nice long rest in the rubber room wearing a back-to-front coat would have been in order. Still, anyone who expects me to sail off to the opposite shore has clearly not been reading this fanzine for very long. Hyypia and Henchoz have made a real difference, but the goals at Newcastle were an alarm call that ought to be heeded. The football hasn’t been too thrilling, and we must be careful that “period of transition” isn’t simply a cover-up for a sub-standard ‘product’. What I can say about Gerard in contrast to 44’s bollocking is that he is now seemingly 100% behind the players. This may be a response to his own position being more secure than it was after the Manc and Everton defeats, but the likes of O’Leary and Sir Imodium never slag their own off, even when it makes them sound like idiots. Not that they ever sound like anything else, but O’Leary’s “Kewell didn’t dive” at Derby and Ferguson’s “Beckham went for the ball” in Rio hit the heights of lunacy. Without getting that demented, Houllier has learned and learned well. Of course he saw the Owen incident at West Ham, but there was no way he would even think of criticising Owen in front of those lying press bastards, even if he thought it was merited (which it wasn’t). Owen’s response to his manager’s loyalty has been there for all to see – in fact the whole team’s response to the win at Sunderland, to take just one example, proves that this manager is somebody these players look up to and respect. I think the majority of the supporters are beginning to do so as well, and Gerard at least carries himself like a Liverpool manager. Success would be a just reward for such a man.
But that does not automatically mean that he will get it. The Shankly Day brought a lump to all our throats, and all the plaudits in the world must go to our comrades at “Red All Over The Land” for their organisation AND hustling, when the club at one point seemed very reluctant to do anything at all. It was a remarkable day. Because of the great man’s 40th anniversary, there were inevitable comparisons to the current manager – some more fawning than is wise. It may be on the back of more good results than in August (all two of them!) but success is only defined in MAY, not in December. One Premiership away win in four months is simply not good enough. Perspective is not the same as pessimism and other favourable comparisons (Sami to Hansen, for example) do the players and the club as a whole no favours at all. If our past signifies anything, it is surely that we ought to know exactly what it takes to win the league. We do not have it – yet – but only the churlish would deny that some progress has certainly been made. Even Ian St John seems to be coming round!
I thought Rick Parry’s comments about a top three finish were unhelpful, and make you start to wonder what this club actually considers “Success” to be. All of this G22 bullshit about elite clubs and a European super league – our mere presence in such a ‘competition’ is of no interest to me. If Europe moves in a direction which means that a quality side like Kiev (semi finalists last season) still has to qualify because their country does not have significant TV revenues, that is sick and not something I want Liverpool to be a part of. Take the current situation. We are ‘only’ 5th, but most Reds I speak to are feeling really PROUD of the players at the moment. I know I am. There is more to football than money, some Luddite souls might say it shouldn’t have ever had anything to do with money. Just because such a view is unrealistic or unfashionable does not make it any less valid. Whose side do you think Shankly would have been on? Through the talents of Houllier, the players, the Academy and perhaps also Parry & Robinson we may yet be able to get on level terms with the Mancs or the Italians – but what does it profit a club if it should gain the whole world and loses its own soul? I feel a sermon coming on!
I mentioned before about Owen at West Ham, and this was just one of a whole range of snidey attacks on Michael. A number of Reds chose to join in, but thankfully it was only within the local letters pages. While I also couldn’t give a flying one for England we will just have to accept the fact that Owen does. His performances since the Squabble of Britain have been full of passion and hard work for the Liverpool cause, AND goals. The Kop should duly note this. His chant had been relegated to about third or even fourth before some matches, and that isn’t even remotely in keeping with the lad’s status. Michael Owen Scores The Goals – halle fucking lujah! And even if he doesn’t, we should sing his name loud and clear anyway.
Thanks very much to the people who responded to my shameless begging for articles. Their ingenuity and generous use of their time was countered by my own stupidity in timing the compilation of #45 for Christmas and the Millennium. I am told Stephen Hawking is not losing any sleep. I appreciate all my regulars’ efforts as ever, but would like to say a special “thank you” to Dave and Alan who have been going through distressing times with their families. That they can still bear me in mind and write something for 45 goes beyond a desire to express their views about the Reds – it’s also to do with friendship and it won’t be forgotten. Thanks, lads. Thanks, everyone.