Editorial – Issue 61, Summer 2003
By Steve Kelly From Issue 61, Summer 2003
It could be a sign of ageing I suppose, but August is no longer my favourite month. In fact, I’m beginning to think May is the time I like best. Not a good sign, is it? As each new season begins, my enthusiasm dwindles – and I’m not sure it’s entirely my fault. Anyway, let’s get the formalities out of the way. Welcome to a new edition of the fanzine. Thanks to everyone who sent in stuff, and as always there were more articles than I could use – they’ll be held back for 62, which I’m trying to bring out earlier but I never do and you don’t believe me or care anyway so why do I bother?
“Why do I bother” seems to be the question of the year thus far. I can think of few seasons where the anticipation has been at such a low level. That may not be a bad thing, of course. Some of our better seasons came after summers full of anxiety (1994) or despair (1985, 1989) – and after the season we’ve just gone through some success and some good football will no doubt be greeted by the kind of euphoria better suited to the football we saw in 78/79 and 87/88. Long-term, that attitude might be dangerous. No doubt there will be many Reds who will be ever so grateful for fourth place and a bit of passing, but given the strides we made in the first two years of the Millennium that would be a bit of a smokescreen to be honest.
Get used to it, because Liverpool FC has been almost completely swallowed up by hype. The purchase of Kewell has wetted a few appetites, and if it’s our cue to stop spending flipping great wadges of cash for flops and finally start punching our weight in the transfer market, I’m all for it. Pre-season hasn’t really given us a chance to get a good look at him, though early reports about Le Tallec seem promising. Judging by the Ajax game alone, I’ve got a horrible feeling we’re in for more of the same. There was stuff before the tournament about Jari and what a ‘mystery’ it was that he didn’t shine at Anfield. There’s no mystery, and anyone who’s regularly watched Liverpool for the last few years wasn’t ‘mystified’ in the slightest. We could be making the same error with Harry as we made with Litmanen, and Diouf to an extent: this isn’t about the personnel, it’s about the style, the ethos, the philosophy of Liverpool 2003. Which, as we all know, is in the hands of one man.
Call me a sarky old bore, but you can’t give Bobby Crush a Steinway and expect him to play like Rubinstein………ah, here we go. “Three paragraphs without a dig, that’s almost like a famine for you, you whinging get”. Guilty as charged. I’m not budging an inch, and the football we saw after the last editorial was nowhere near enough to make me change my mind. The bullshit levels are still high and the paranoia is becoming laughable. Two years ago, you’d never have predicted that any Liverpool fan would be siding with Ian St John against Gerard Houllier. That’s how bad it’s become. Of course he’s getting another crack at it, we knew he would, so once again we’re going into a new season more in hope than anticipation.
It’s eerily reminiscent of previous regimes. In fact, there’s a 3-page article on the subject later in the fanzine, so enjoy. It was written before Kewell, so there’s no mention of the “worthy Number Seven” drivel – ten years to the day that we were all getting excited about Nigel Clough. Not one player can be bought without there being an odious comparison to some legend, usually Zidane! We have been transformed into 80’s Man U – how else can you explain beating a team 6 times in two years and yet the manager says “we’re two years behind them”? Even the Chief Executive is coming out with crap like “we’ll buy quality” or “you’ll be on the edge of your seat”. SHUT UP!!!
There’s a great line in The Good The Bad & The Ugly, when Eli Wallach kills his would-be assassin and says “Don’t talk – shoot”. Don’t you wish the hierarchy at LFC watched westerns? Remember the contempt we had for Evans in 1998, when he said “some clubs would say coming third, getting in a semi final and qualifying for the UEFA Cup is good enough – but not Liverpool”? At least he had the good grace to add the final three words. Gerard didn’t even do that, and he came fifth!
People can talk about expectations, CL qualification, league places, cup runs etc, but I’ll admit that none of this interests me greatly. What I’m looking for is FUN. This is a deadly serious question: just when did entertainment stop being a part of our expectations? Did I miss a meeting or something? Steve, we had a vote. Grinding, defensive monotony won. When did watching Liverpool become the football equivalent of self-flagellation? This is what annoys me the most. I’ve seen titles, I’ve seen European Cups. It wouldn’t upset me to be told I wasn’t going to see them again, but I do want to see a Reds side that plays the game the way it ought to be played – and that hardly ever happens nowadays. And I don’t want to hear a load of shite statistics that say we had more goal attempts than Arsenal. Ask ANY neutral who they’d rather watch, and those numbers become lies.
I’m slowly but surely reaching the same age as my dad when he began preferring cricket to football. I can’t think of a fate worse than that, but if heredity isn’t doing everything it can to force me to watch the sporting equivalent of an Andy Warhol film, Gerard Houllier’s ‘philosophy’ will finish me off. Of course I could just get a Sky dish, bury the bigotry and appreciate good football whoever was playing it – but where’s the fun in that? Football without passion becomes an exhibition, a mere demonstration of skills. In short, utterly worthless.
As always, many of you won’t like the content of this issue. I’m making no apologies. We don’t have to keep the club sweet for any reason, and that frees us to say exactly what we think. You want gloss, you want “Ra! Ra! Ra!” – then buy something else. As small as we are, people need to see the other side of the argument and that’s what we’re going to carry on providing. Of course you can end up looking daft. If Gerard kept his vow to win the Premiership and the Champions League, I’d probably just say “well, he’s still got a fat arse”.
But I’m not expecting a whole lot this year, not in terms of achievement anyway. Even so, 2003/04 must be the year that entertainment returned to L4, or at least the realisation that ‘fun’ isn’t a dirty word. Now “crevice” – that’s a dirty word………