It’s depressing enough being a Liverpool fan just by looking at the league table or that big taxi-meter style counter totting up the ridiculous daily interest payments the club has to make. Then you find yourself trying to reason with people who have far more interest in seeing the manager replaced than finding ways of making the owners sell up more quickly. People who are so set on seeing that manager gone that they just won’t stop for a few minutes and consider that maybe, just maybe, it’s not all as simple as blaming one person for all the ills this club has to endure.
Then you realise that many of those people you’ve been trying to reason with haven’t got the courage to step away from the little group they’re in and actually think about things all by themselves, to make their own minds up, to question the joint opinion of their little group on all things LFC and to maybe even risk finding themselves drummed out of that little group. So, briefly, you wonder why you even bothered trying; they’ll not change their minds until one of their leaders or advisers tells them to.
That’s when you realise that you’re not talking to them, not really. They won’t change their minds in a hurry, but a lot of people listen in without getting involved. And they are the people you’re talking to really, people who will listen to all that is said and make their own minds up. People who don’t just follow their leader. People with the sense to see that people at the club are using fans for their own ends.
Elsewhere someone else is trying to reason with people who won’t admit to Rafa making any mistakes at all – but if they did admit those mistakes they’d soon be able to turn the conversations back to the people who have wilfully messed things up for this club, deliberately acted in a way that put this club to so much harm. Rafa makes mistakes. Others made no mistake – they knew full well what they were doing.
Since Rafa Benitez signed his new contract, as negotiated by Christian Purslow back in March 2009, Liverpool have not spent much at all in the transfer market. In fact they’ve spent less than they got back in, with the profit since then currently standing at £6.3m. And that’s including the purchase of Jonjo Shelvey, who is of course yet to play for Liverpool.
An £8m profit on player trading in terms of players available for the season just gone and the priority is to get rid of the manager? Yes, Aquilani was a gamble and it didn’t pay off. But is that enough to make it right to send this message to the owners, this message that they’ve spent more than enough, thanks very much? Is it enough to tell them that, in fact, we’re so happy with their work on our finances that we’ll gladly let them free up money to pay a bit of that interest by selling more players this summer without reinvesting the proceeds into the squad?
Some people have started to turn on Rafa perhaps because they’ve started to think it’s the only change that could actually happen if they shout loudly enough. The reasoning seems to go that although it won’t fix the problems with the owners, and the new manager would probably have to sell some star names to get the funds to build a new squad, maybe it might work.
It might not.
And it will buy yet more time for owners who should have put up or shot off a long time ago. It buys more time for an MD who negotiated a contract that it is claimed would cost Liverpool £16m, to be paid within 24 hours, to terminate. If that’s true he should resign for that one major gaffe alone, if it’s false then maybe we need to talk about whether it’s right for Liverpool’s MD to be talking to the media the way he does. It also buys time for a chairman who promised a sale within a matter of months – I can hear it now: “The appointment of a new manager has caused us some delays in attracting a buyer; they are very keen on buying the club but wanted to see how well the new manager settled in first. It’ll be a done deal in a couple of months.”
There are still claims being made that the manager got his new contract so it all looked good to potential investors. Obviously that pretty much cancels out the idea that Rafa would have a contract that has to be paid in full the day after he is sacked, because that just does not look good to potential investors. But that expensive pay-off is being touted as the only reason he’s not yet been sacked. And then we’re told there aren’t any problems at the club, that Rafa is well and truly loved by his board and we shouldn’t even dream of suggesting otherwise – not with those potential investors ready to make a billion-dollar decision on the strength of an article on a website somewhere or other.
Potential investors need to know something very important. This club is a long way from being harmonious. And maybe, just maybe, that is the best way this club will find a buyer.
What’s the point in inviting people to buy a perfect, sparkling, well-tuned club? They’re only going to be disappointed when they get here. And the fact they were brought here under false pretences means they’ll be gone quicker than the money from the Standard Chartered deal.
So tell the truth. Tell the buyers they’ve got work on their hands. They’ll need to appoint a new chairman (Broughton made it clear he’ll be gone after any sale), a new chief executive (we still haven’t got one) and they’ll need to get rid of the MD (we won’t need one with a CEO in place, and the MD is not a suitable CEO for this club). They’ll need to talk to the manager to see if they can give him what he asks for – and if they can’t then they need to make sure he knows that – no point making promises that won’t be kept.
And they’ll need to be honest with the supporters from day one. Those protests, the ones the MD pleaded should be kept to a minimum to avoid upsetting potential buyers; they’re not done because people see making anti-owner banners as a bit of a hobby. They’re not shouting to keep warm, they’re shouting about something that made them extremely angry. If those new owners can’t do what’s needed to stop those supporters being angry then they might as well go and buy some supermarkets or something.
If you think you can make money out of this club today, sell it today. If you think you can get a finder’s fee or a big chunk of commission then get it and go. Take your money and run.
If you think we’re annoyed now, just wait and see what happens when this renewed anger bubbling under the surface finally erupts. There’s more harmony amongst fans than you think. We’ve been stuck in this limbo far too long. Sooner or later we’ll snap out of this depression and stand up to you once more. Sooner or later we’ll stop arguing with each other and we’ll turn to you and your banks. Sooner or later we’ll make it impossible for you to pretend everything’s okay. The day that happens you’ll not be able to smooth-talk your way out of it. You’ll not be able to hide; you’ll not be able to run. You’ll wish you weren’t here. And you’ll not see it coming.
Sooner or later we’re taking our club back.