I want to apologise to readers of the site, because this original article was based on my erroneous assumption that quotes from Dirk Kuyt, carried across the media on Saturday night and Sunday morning, were three weeks old. In fact the quotes were only three days old.
My error was purely that. It was never a malicious attempt to mislead anyone.
I saw quotes from a player discussing his new contract, and how it was tied into the manager’s new contract, yet no mention whatsoever of the announcement the day before, Friday, that the club’s chief executive was to leave in the summer.
It seemed somewhat odd that a player would talk about his and his manager’s future, however vaguely, yet no reporter would ask about how Parry’s position fitted into those futures.
And so I double-checked to see if I could find some context for the quotes.
There was nothing before Saturday, without going all the way back to early February.
Back then there was an appearance on Dutch TV where Kuyt said pretty much the same things he’d said in the latest quotes. If there was a difference, it was easily put down to translation differences.
The article on this site wasn’t an attack on the press or the media. The article was an attack on what I thought was an agent, a PR agency or someone connected to the club or potential ownership in some way.
We’ve had story after story for the last 18 months attacking the club or its people in some way or other. Sometimes the stories are full of truth, sometimes they are full of spin, sometimes they contain what can only really be described as lies.
When they lack honesty in any way, it isn’t always the reporter who is putting spin on the facts or making some up, often a reporter is literally relaying what he was told. Sometimes a reporter will be presented with two versions of what happened, and it’s down to him to judge which he should believe – if any. On the whole any reporter who is a Liverpool fan tries to write the story with the club’s best interests at heart – with the obvious limitations that they have still got a job to do and can’t always ignore a big, but negative, story. And as we all have our own opinions on what is best for the club, sometimes the decision on how to cover a story doesn’t match what we might do if we were writing it. And of course not all reporters support Liverpool.
When it comes to the political situation at the club these days, all I try to do is find the truth. If we want to force one or both owners out, surely we should force them out with the truth, particularly when one of the reasons given to force them out is their lack of truth. If we want to force the manager out, we should be forcing him out for genuine reasons, not because of false or misleading reports of his actions.
The article yesterday was an attempt to find the truth.
Dirk hadn’t picked a good time if he’d decided to raise the issue of his contract straight after a defeat to Middlesbrough.
Of course he might have been asked a direct question about his contract. But even if it was an interview carried out on Saturday morning, Dirk – and the reporters talking to him – would have known that the situation with Rick Parry had changed. An important board member, the CEO, was to leave at the end of the season. It had been announced the day before. Yet not one follow-up question asking Dirk what he felt this meant, for the club, for the manager and for his new contract.
Prior to the set of articles that appeared from Saturday night onwards, there was only one English-language article I could find carrying quotes from Dirk discussing a new deal. It was on a site called “Dutch Football” and it referred to an appearance by Dirk on Dutch TV. It took place on the 8th or 9th of February, and doesn’t seem to have had an ounce of coverage by the UK press.
I did some more searching, but could only find Dutch language sites that carried the quotes from the TV show. Some auto-translating showed that the quotes were very similar to those in Sunday’s press. I found a clip of the TV show too, but it all sounded Dutch to me!
The differences between the quotes on Sunday and those in February were consistent with translation differences often seen when real people do the translations, or when there’s a difference in the native tongues of the two translators. Auto-translation tools produce bizarre results, but enough to give you a general idea.
And that’s why I went with the article.
Quotes lying dormant for three weeks were – I thought – suddenly passed by somebody or other to the Sunday press.
And if that had been the case, what reason would this mystery person have had for bringing them up? It can be used to make Rafa look bad, it can be used to make one or both owners look bad. It can be used by a players’ agent to help press for a new contract for the player.
After a long line of made-up, misleading and spun stories, I felt it was time to raise this.
It turns out my instincts were on the right lines.
The quotes weren’t from Saturday night.
Dirk had said pretty much what he said on Dutch TV, for a second time.
But he had said it before both the Middlesbrough game and the Parry announcement. He’d said it at a Champions League post-match interview, following the game in Madrid on Wednesday.
The quotes hadn’t hit the press until Sunday, presumably because it was a separate interview for the benefit of the Sunday press.
So there was no case to answer in terms of a third party stirring up trouble this time. Perhaps the press could have mentioned the quotes were from Wednesday, but it’s no surprise they didn’t: It would lessen the impact.
The fact the quotes were only three days old probably wasn’t worth an article, although it was worth pointing perhaps in passing what the context of the quotes was.
So, in light of what I now know, here is a corrected version of the story.
Liverpool were never really out of the spotlight last week, with some of it actually related to football.
The week began with a rumour that Sky News later picked up, one that claimed Rafael Benitez would leave the club after the Real Madrid game on the Wednesday.
That rumour was denied, by Rick Parry, sources from the Tom Hicks camp and Rafa himself. Rafa spoke after his side had won 1-0 in Madrid.
24 hours later and the internet versions of a couple of national papers published a story claiming that Tom Hicks had been in contact with Jose Mourinho through a third party, about the possibility of him coming to Liverpool.
Laughed off by the Hicks camp, by the time those stories were on the breakfast table in printed form, they looked rather silly. Because by then the Echo and The Times had broken the news that Rick Parry’s departure was about to be announced.
The announcement came as a shock; it had been very much a closely-guarded secret and was only just broken by those papers before it was announced officially.
Saturday saw a fair amount of analysis of Parry’s announcement, before Liverpool made a mess of their already slim league hopes by losing 2-0 at one of their bogey grounds.
The same night saw some quotes from Dirk Kuyt reported by various members of the Sunday press.
Had Liverpool won that game earlier in the day, or even drawn that game, then hearing comments from Kuyt about his contract wouldn’t have seemed out of place. But the idea of Kuyt bringing the subject up in the wake of not only the result but the performance seemed a little odd.
That said, often when we read quotes in the press we are reading a response to a direct question. We hardly ever see the question, and it can sometimes seem that a player puts more emphasis on a topic than he really has. And quite often we find that the quotes are an edited version of what was said, leaving the version reported as slightly out of context.
Where Rafa is concerned, there seems to be a serious effort to paint him in as bad a light as possible these days. He’s no angel, and far from perfect, but often gets accused falsely.
Some of his critics say that his efforts on the political side of life at Anfield have got in the way of his coaching. Life at Anfield is political, of that there is no doubt, and only a fool would expect Rafa to stay out of it completely. But some feel that he is too focussed on that, and also that he is exploiting the friction in the board-room to put in far higher demands than he might have done at a more settled club.
And that is how some people have interpreted the quotes from Dirk Kuyt that were in Sunday’s papers. They feel that Rafa is getting players to wait before signing new deals as part of some point-scoring or point-proving exercise.
What Kuyt was quoted as saying was: “Rafa told me he wanted to give me a new contract, but because of his own contract he wanted to sort that out first and then we’ll see what’s happening. I’ve just been trying to focus on the games and not worry too much because I’m happy at Liverpool and I enjoy it, I want to stay.”
This appeared in the Sunday papers after Dirk Kuyt was interviewed earlier in the week. It was a post-match interview following the Champions League, and although that was back on Wednesday, the quotes were for the benefit of the Sunday press.
The quotes were only a few days old, but they did pre-date the event on Friday that saw Rick Parry’s impending departure announced. It makes little difference to the fact that as of Wednesday Dirk Kuy was waiting for Rafa’s contract to be agreed before his own was discussed – but it would have been better to mention that Parry’s position had changed since then and that there was no indication of how this might impact Kuyt’s talks.
The quotes actually sounded very similar to comments Kuyt had made three works earlier, in an appearance on Dutch Television. The programme was “Studio Voetbal” and was recorded after Liverpool’s 3-2 win against Portsmouth. Kuyt was responding to recent reports linking him with interest from Juventus. He was a guest on the programme and talked for a while on a number of issues as well as his own situation at Anfield.
Although at first it seemed somebody was once again trying to stir trouble at the club. Like the Mourinho story on Thursday night, it could have been agents trying to stir some action for their clients. For this story in particular, it could even be an attempt to push the club into getting the contract sorted out much more quickly. It was still another reminder to be wary of taking anything you read or hear about the club at face value, but at least it wasn’t – on this occasion – anyone trying to put a spanner in what’s left of Liverpool’s works.
It wouldn’t have been the first time a translated interview had been reported without any reference to the original source, with parts missing and no real context given. And it wouldn’t have been the last.
There is still a war going on, and until it’s over we all need to be wary of propaganda, even small pieces of it.
We also, myself included, need to be wary of how we react to pieces of information we see in the media or online. Without knowing the full situation as to why Rafa is telling Kuyt to wait for his contract, we can’t really attack Rafa. Conspiracy theories are so common at Anfield now there is a chance the new stadium will be called “Area 51”.
When the accusations are wrong, it doesn’t make you decide it’s time to call it a day, or to run away, it makes you want to stand up and fight to clear your name.
And that is something we all need to keep in mind if we are going to fight to get rid of anyone from the club. Fight them with lies and they’ll never go away. Fight them with the truth and it surely can’t do any harm to the club.