Editorial – Issue 59, Winter 2002
By Steve Kelly
From Issue 59, Winter 2002
You may find quite a few spelling errors in this issue. It was a bit of a rush job, as I wanted to bring it out before Christmas. I lost a week or so because I had to leave my lovely flat in Crosby. What with feeling a bit down about that and the (ahem) ‘fluctuating’ fortunes of the Reds it became a bit difficult to concentrate on the job in hand. It was all I could do to get everything printed up and stuck together. Honest! Anyway, it’s done, so see what you think.
What is it about this editorial? As soon as I even mention the word ‘optimism’, the Reds’ form goes out of the 60th storey window. I don’t even think we’ve fallen all the way yet, and rather than bounce back up again we’re more likely to see a huge splat on the pavement. There were other tell-tale signs that made a slump inevitable. It was November, for one. The Manager of the Month award is a major jinx too (well done, Moyesie). Owen’s goals dried up, Henchoz’s absence began to be felt. When Jerzy started making mistakes too, defeats were inevitable.
They’ve also been hit hard by the Champions League exit. No matter what kind of spin Gerard puts on things, that was the one he’d set his heart on. I’m not sure about this “momentum” he says we lost after ‘the incident’ at Middlesbrough. He thinks that if he doesn’t mention Dudek by name, fans won’t believe he’s trying to find another scapegoat a la Stevie G. And no matter how many times you say it, boss, we did NOT control that match. Their goal was inevitable. Let it go, because you’re beginning to sound like an idiot.
That’s all academic. The key moment since issue 58 was the Basle result and the fairly fevered outburst about Gerrard. To be fair, the manager has been backtracking furiously ever since – even claiming he never said it at one, ludicrous, point – but it was simply an extension of something that has made Liverpool fans uneasy in the past. I mentioned in one of the 99/00 issues that GH was a bit of a buck-passer, but it’s going beyond a joke now.
It’s quite possible that a split has occurred in the dressing room. He has the nerve to speak about the ‘cancer’ of blaming others, while studiously avoiding any criticism about obvious mistakes he’s making and going public about Gerrard. We were far too negative at the Riverside, and Dudek did his best to keep us in the game. He should not even be carrying the can for that result, never mind the whole month of mediocrity that followed.
Everywhere you look, there are complaints – and not just from permawhingers like yours truly. The Dudek/Kirkland episode could have been handled a bit better, Riise has been denied a chance to continue his good form from last season by constantly being played at left back. Baros was a player in form, but he’s always dropped and always substituted – now he’s missing sitters as well. I’m amazed Heskey has any self-esteem left to get out of bed in the morning. Fitness, touch, confidence – it’s all shot to pieces. THE LAD IS NOT A LEFT WINGER!!!! How many more fucking times?
And this is what is causing the idle speculation about Gerard’s job, which should not be happening. The results don’t help, that’s an understatement, but arguments about style, team selection, favouritism etc are the same ones we were having over 3 years ago. They haven’t just popped up in the last month or so – and I’ll happily sell you any number of back issues that provide the evidence.
Let me just say this. It’s not even close to being the time to make a decision about replacing Houllier, but any discussion about his future, and our club’s future, is perfectly valid. We reached the same point with Evans, don’t forget. He knew he had to change and get some steel into his side. He failed. By 97/98, they weren’t even doing what they’d done so well in the previous 3 seasons, and the club made a belated decision to replace him. Gerard also has to change, he said so himself during the summer. He wanted more “self expression” from his team, but not only are we not getting it, the defensive solidity and awesome spirit he gave us are also in danger of evaporating. Déjà vu?
The Treble, his near-death experience and the gradual improvement in league position have built up a huge amount of goodwill for Gerard. I particularly understand the younger generation’s feverish devotion to him. They were bored to tears with tales of Wembley, Rome, Paris, doubles, trebles. Suddenly, this great man gave them THEIR own memories, THEIR own experiences, THEIR own trophies and championship challenges. Their faith in him is blind at times.
He has created this foundation, and even a pessimist like me believes he has more than earned the chance to build further upon it. I will qualify that, though, by saying that he seems to have come back from his illness hell bent on destroying the aura he has carefully and deliberately built up around himself. It’s got nothing to do with media manipulation – he IS talking complete and utter shite, and if he is in danger of ‘losing’ the dressing room his days could be numbered.
We need a couple of wins, and the longer we stay within sight of Arsenal and United this testing period will probably be forgotten. Should we slip further back, the inevitable questions will be asked. And they might just have the inevitable answers.