Editorial – Issue 47, Summer 2000
By Steve Kelly
From Issue 47, Summer 2000
Well, that was a fairly eventful summer wasn’t it? With the Ziege marathon still only half run by the looks of things, I had to go to print sometime. Judging by the signing of Nick Barmby, I can probably predict what will happen: we pay ludicrous fee plus astronomical wages, player has clause in contract to speak to someone else next year, Boro’ fans give him terrible stick first time he faces them. Clairvoyant, I am. Of course, it’s absolutely hilarious when we get the player and our opponents are left fuming. I’m not sure I’ll quite see the funny side when the boots are on the other feet.
The cover’s still crap, you’ll notice. Spoilt for choice, mind, what with Barmby and Gazza also vying for position. Though hardly a surprise, the Duckenfield and Murray verdicts aren’t really a suitable subject for humour (they could still have gone on your cover then – readers). I think what really pisses me off about the whole thing is the lack of interest from the rest of the country. The refusal of a new trial made about fourth or fifth item on the evening news. It may well have been eleven years ago, but the travesty of justice lingers on. It gets worse the more you look into it; how can people sit idly by while they are told that 200 police statements on such a terrible disaster have been altered – and all to diminish or erase completely police negligence? Apathy has gripped the nation, an easy life is alluring and the end product is the continuance of a nightmare for the poor bereaved families. It is the same apathy that has apparently gripped Liverpool fans.
It would seem that we are moving ground. Just like that? The complete lack of consultation with supporters is not really the surprise – the lack of outrage from the same people is. We’ve become used to shrugging our shoulders and saying “that’s that, then” – but it isn’t. If it were, then Murdoch would own Man U now. We’ve got to respond in the same way. This is a terrible idea. I’m sorry if Rick Parry is going to take offence at being called our “flexible friend” – but he seems to be making a habit of saying one thing and doing another. When the cynicism takes a hold of you, you end up disbelieving everything he says. Moores’ ill health may be the reason for one or two episodes at Anfield. The departure of Robinson, perhaps, or even the very idea of leaving Anfield. If it is simply the club pressuring the homeowners around the ground to sell their property at a reasonable price (but reasonable to whom?), that is a different thing altogether – if not entirely ethical. As per usual, we are left guessing because the club doesn’t let us in on anything. We just get an ‘announcement’. Well, sorry, but the demolition of Anfield ought not to be an idea greeted by the shrugging of shoulders. I fully support the new Anfield4Ever organisation, and while debate is encouraged within these pages I’d better get my position clear from the off. Letters, please.
So what about the team? Dissent has been largely frowned upon during the summer. Many preferred to chant their “we’d have settled for fourth” mantra and pass over 1999/2000 without minute examination. There were definitely signs of improvement, but other signs that were slightly ominous. Leeds’ first competitive game of the season is a Champions League qualifier on August 9th – a full ten days before ours. They had hardly anyone at Euro 2000. We seemed to supply half the tournament! Had we achieved third place, the players’ pre-season break would have been minimal. Was it therefore part of the plan to throw it away at the end of the season? Laugh if you want, but with no tournaments in the summer of 2001 Liverpool can now play to their maximum power and potential for nine months. This is a desperate attempt to find a reason for a conclusion that was a new one on me; five straight wins followed by five games with no goals and two points. The old Spice Boy and “chokers” accusations came flooding back, so maybe I’m clutching at straws and saying we meant to do it!
I’ve heard sillier things about Houllier, quite frankly. Any criticism whatsoever seems to send you hurtling into the ‘weirdo’ or ‘bitter’ categories (guess which one Ian St John’s in), but there are other explanations. When my name was mentioned in ‘The Kop’ or ‘The Liverpool Way’, I seem to have developed an alter ego – King Pessimist! I plead guilty up to a point, but with his press cuttings and his £50m plus spent in the transfer market, no Liverpool manager has ever had more faith shown in him than Gerard Houllier. I do struggle to come up with reasons for this. Certainly, we were in a bit of a state when we arrived – but worse than 1959? Hardly. If the guy turns out to be our Messiah, yours truly will be on bended knee begging for forgiveness, but if he isn’t it is going to be hard for a successor to get quite the same faith (and funds). There has been another merry go round on the transfer trail; Ziege would make another six this summer to add to last summer’s half-dozen. This time, it cannot be blamed on our period of transition – it is more to do with the way football has gone nowadays. Bosman has opened Pandora’s Box (lucky him), and not all for the good. When THE primary aspect of supporting your team is loyalty, it is hardly a good sign for the future of the game if that players do not reciprocate loyalty. How many of our 2000/01 heroes will even be here next summer? Football seems to be throwing everything into the dustbin nowadays; 3 o’clock stars on a Saturday, good kits, reasonable prices, player loyalty – even the very ground we have played at for over a century is fair game to the “innovators”. Some of us have been predicting an end to football’s boom time for at least five years. Maybe WE are the ones out of step?
Please write in for the next issue, which will be out as soon as possible. With the e-mail address sorted, you’ve no excuse now. The more I’m sent, the more issues I can bring out. It’s an old, old story – and one that doesn’t improve in the telling!