Editorial – Issue 54, Winter 2001
By Steve Kelly
From Issue 54, Winter 2001
Sorry this issue’s late. I don’t honestly know what’s being going on in my head of late, but it’s time to get more professional about this ‘job’ of mine. Let’s be honest, taking money off people to bore them soft with what you think about Liverpool isn’t one of the worst jobs in the world. Too many days are spent staring into space, and not getting off my arse and doing some work. Insert your own Scouser joke here! I admire John Pearman and Dave Usher very much, for the way they keep at it and keep on bringing out issues. I’ll hopefully find a good balance between doing more to keep people happy but not so many that you get sick of it. More letters would be a help of course, and it’s not as if you’re not responding to my pitiful pleas. In fact, there’s about 15 pages or so that didn’t make this issue. I must apologise to the Fatman, G Mason, Graham S, Paul Bretherton, Kev M, David Nicholas and others for not putting their stuff in. It’s just that three main themes have emerged in this issue and they’ve been dealt with in depth, and I’ve also got my act together on the writing front. Since I’ve been skiving off for the last few issues I thought I’d better get my stuff in before anyone started to think I was superfluous! See what you think, anyway – and keep the articles coming in, everybody.
The first main theme was obviously the manager. Events since October 13th have calmed everybody down somewhat. Bearing in mind what most (if not all) clubs would have been like if they’d lost their manager, we have to be incredibly grateful to Phil and the lads for not letting the almost-tragic events surrounding the Leeds game get to them. There was certainly a guilty feeling when I got back home and reread issue 53. Yes, in the scheme of things – three trophies, European football, a championship challenge – some of the remarks seemed way over the top, but I glance through numerous football magazines and newspapers and very little is ever expressed about the negative side of football. It’s all hype, everything’s wonderful. I don’t think it hurts to have a couple of little magazines stirring it up and actually discussing the issues now and again. I’ve said on many occasions that I felt sorry for Houllier. He has a massive job on his hands, one that can seem completely unfair and far too demanding for one person to endure. My attitude up to now has always been “tough – you want the job, you have to take on everything that’s involved”. I certainly never thought that would include a major operation on his heart, though! I’ve discussed this more in the article on page 32, but in short, we go on. That means that if you’re Red and you care about this club, what it’s doing and where it’s going, you’re entitled to say exactly what you like about them.
Which conveniently brings me to the second main theme – how we play. This was a big part of the last editorial, and the subject isn’t going away. I’m writing after the Middlesbrough game, in which the Reds actually managed to play some good football. I won’t put that down entirely to Jari’s presence, but when Heskey isn’t there the players know there’s no point in hoofing it. Emile seems to have the same effect on us that Ferguson has at Goodison – it’s too easy to play to that part of his game. So wouldn’t it be great if they realised how much more he’s got to offer, and kept it down and kept the ball more? What was pleasing today was the way we kept possession second half, a rarity these days. Those of us who were forced to sit through the second half at Pride Park were proved right – that this team CAN do it, but consciously and deliberately give the ball away. It’s tactically unsound, gives the opposition a chance to improve its passing and shooting, makes no allowance for bad luck, gives them the impetus, makes our players work harder – it’s wrong on so many levels.
“Yes, but we won”. That’s all I’ve heard in the last few months. We won, so that makes it okay. Sorry, but it doesn’t. You have to work out the difference between winning despite our tactics and winning because of them. This debate has gone national, with neutrals and media gimps sending the boot in. Your natural inclination is to defend LFC from outside attacks, especially when it’s the usual suspects who slag us off simply because they’re too gutless to take on United. Sometimes, you have to stand back from it and wonder if they may have a point. There is a high level of defensiveness now surrounding Liverpool (oh the irony). When the words “Who’s Boring Now?” appear on the front of the Echo after the hardly exciting Roma game, we’re getting into a frame of mind like that of the Arsenal fans under Graham and Millwall fans all the time. No-one likes us, we don’t care. Absolute loyalty has its admirable side, but that shouldn’t blind us to any deficiencies we have. And I’m afraid the words “we’re top of the league” aren’t a magic wand that will make all criticism disappear.
The third main theme is, of course, the sale of Fowler. It hasn’t even been exhausted in this issue, not by a long way. There will be plenty more to say in the next one, and I’d also like to include a brief (ish!) look over his whole career. One of the great Liverpool players has left, and not in the best of circumstances either. When Phil McNulty, talking about how Gerard dealt with Sander, said “he makes Alex Ferguson look like Sooty” I was one of the people who felt that this was nothing to be proud of. That Dudek has since proven to be exceptional isn’t the whole point. There’s a way you do things, and pride in my club has never centred on winning trophies. This links up with the sentiments above about the way we play. There’s a whole range of related episodes that make my heart swell when I think about how lucky I am to be a Liverpool fan: the applause for Barthez, Beckham, Overmars’ goal and Barca at the final whistle, to name a few examples. The way some fans gave up prized possessions for an auction in aid of the New York firemen. There’s loads more. The ruthless nature of the Westerveld and Fowler ‘manoeuvres’ may well impress dim-witted journalists, but they did not impress me. Anyway, as one regular writer says, maybe a pause for reflection is the best thing here? By issue 55, we’ll have a greater sense of what Robbie’s going to do at Leeds and how the team he left behind fares. It just makes me sad when I think of a player who shone throughout the ‘difficult’ 90’s, only to be discarded when it looked as if we were going to get back on top. If there is any Liverpool player in history who deserves a Championship medal, and didn’t get one (with us at least), it was Robbie Fowler. You can’t even wish him any luck either, because of where he is.
Anyway, it’s all in the rest of the fanzine so get reading. Happy 2002, everybody – if it’s half as good as the last one, we’re in for a good’un!