The following email has been sitting in the Anfield Road inbox for a day-and-a-half now. As the hours have ticked by the sense of bemusement at what it contains has grown.
In the wake of the board’s decision last week to get rid of manager Rafael Benítez whilst retaining the services of the (temporary) managing director Christian Purslow, it was felt necessary to vent some anger at the man whose name was on the announcement. That man being the new Chairman, Martin Broughton.
The email pointed out that if Rafa Benítez had been considered a failure, surely Christian Purslow was one too? Wasn’t his main task, the main point he was hired, to find some new investment for the club? People who’ve spoken to him will recall how Purslow bigged himself up as some kind of saviour from the owners and their own failings.
Yet Purslow is said to have completely ignored a genuine, firm, proposal to finance the new stadium. Maybe there’s a good reason why the kind of person with access to funding for a £300m stadium isn’t even worth meeting up with when urgently looking for £100m investment in the club.
If the email had been sent a day or two later it may not have been written with quite the same tone. The anger was at Christian Purslow still being in his job as much as the departure of Benítez. The email was sent with thoughts about leaks from “senior sources” fresh in the mind. The email was sent because there would have been enough evidence of those leaks and that failure for Broughton to act and to end that temporary appointment.
He had the power, yet the line coming from the club was that he was only there to sell the club. The senior source was very insistent that his new boss wasn’t really his boss, just there to sell the club.
And that begged the question – was the chairman just there to sell the club, or did he have the power to do far more? He certainly seemed to be involved in the removal of Benítez, so why was Purslow still there?
The subject of the note captured the emotions of the moment: “Thank you for killing my club”.
And the note called, in no uncertain terms, for Broughton to resign and to take Purslow with him.
No reply was expected.
There was no obligation for the Chairman to reply, but to give him his due he did reply. It took him a week, but he’s said to only work one day per week for the club so that’s not an unreasonable timeframe.
He completely ignored the criticism of Purslow, perhaps because he couldn’t find a way to defend that criticism. But he wanted to defend his involvement in the removal of the manager, explaining that although his “principle remit” was to find those new owners, he was still Chairman.
So that justified his involvement and closed any doubt as to how much of a part he can play in the running of the club. If it’s important enough, he can get involved. If it’s a board matter, he’s the Chairman; it’s his job to lead the board.
But when it came to justifying the decision to let the manager go his justification was a bigger surprise than actually getting a reply.
The expectation might have been for him to list the number of games lost, the points dropped or league positions moved downwards. Maybe a mention of large parts of the squad being unhappy with the manager (which it now turns out is not as likely to have been the case as some previously claimed) or even a vague mention of how all parties involved had discussed the situation and reluctantly decided it would be better for all concerned to part company.
But no, it was none of those reasons.
He wrote: “I’m sorry you think like that but you are entitled to your opinion. I note your opinion doesn’t seem to be shared by the media.”
So forget results, performances, transfer spend or (in this club’s case) transfer profit. Forget team spirit, supporter feelings and ticket sales. None of that is as important as checking those back pages.
Does that include the stories including the obvious briefings against the manager from “senior figures inside the boardroom”?
Is this how Liverpool Football Club now hires and fires its managers? It checks the media for their view?
It analyses the views of all those ex-players, many of them paid to be outspoken or asked leading questions to get them to answer a certain way?
Does it exclude the articles by writers who support this club and have always known how it works? Not the ones with axes to grind or revenge to be served, the good ones. Does it include the articles by those journalists who had clearly been briefed by “senior sources” against the manager?
There’s not a great deal to add to that really.
Except for this: Listen to those ex-players now. Some of them agree with you that Rafa had to go. Some of them don’t. But they all want you to choose Kenny Dalglish as the next manager. Very few of them can see a reason to put Roy Hodgson or Martin O’Neill above the man who really does know how this club works.
The one man, as it happens, who might just help you to sell this club – assuming you want to sell it.
The only man who can really bring unity back to the supporters. The only candidate to have won the league. The man who has a lot of unfinished business to get on with.
The man who knows how to deal with the media. Ask Kelvin McKenzie about that one. Actually don’t, because nobody from this club should speak to Kelvin McKenzie, and he knows this. Kenny told him.
You’re better with Kenny on your side than against you.
He might even teach you how to make better use of the media.
The email from Martin Broughton, email addresses removed for obvious reasons.
Date: 10 June 2010 12:40
Subject: Re: Thank you for killing my club
To: Jim Boardman < >
I’m sorry you think like that but you are entitled to your opinion.
I note your opinion doesn’t seem to be shared by the media.
You may also recall that I am Chairman with the principle remit of finding a new and suitable owner for the club. I am nevertheless Chairman and I’m surprised you don’t seem to think that releasing the manager from his contract is a Board matter.