What Smokescreen? A Response to David Maddocks

Posted: March 23, 2010 by mcdonaldtaf in Business, Finance, Manager Talk
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Today David Maddocks posted an entry on his mirror football blog. I have only had cause one other time to respond on my blog about a work of journalism and, while this entry won’t be as ‘loud’ as my response to Henry Winter, there are some points I want to get off my chest. However rather than writing thousands of words I’ll quote David and then add in my own thoughts.

“Why the ownership issue has been clouding the real reason for Liverpool’s struggles this season: Rafa Benitez”

The title of the piece and already hinting that the struggles endured by the whole team, and not only Benitez, this past season should not be used as an excuse for poor performance. I’m sorry but no matter where you work, what you do and who you work for if there are political shenanigans, a lack of capital investment, auditors casting a material uncertainty over the club’s future, a director telling a customer to ‘go away’, demonstrations against the club, fans chanting about a dislike of the owners etc. (and I really could go on) it will affect all levels of the club/company. This is as true of Tesco or Ford as it is of Liverpool Football Club.

This need to pick up a big bag of ‘blame bricks’ to tie to one person to ensure they sink is naive and dangerous. There aren’t enough fingers on my hands to point at all who are responsible.

“First and foremost, things have gone wrong because the easy, cheap credit on which their business model was based disappeared overnight in the global economic meltdown of 2008. Basically, too many people like Hicks and Gillett were consumed with the greed of making quick bucks, and the banks got their fingers burnt, so suddenly pulled the plug on lending.”

This I can agree with. Timing conspired against the owners when they bought the club, had it been two years earlier we would now have a new stadium and be reaping the additional revenues required to compete. In fact I suspect that H&G would have by now sold the club on, reaping a large return on their investment in the process.

But the timing wasn’t right and this is the main reason why we aren’t moving forwards, didn’t have the ability to sign a striker in January, have no stadium under way, our banks are applying pressure and our auditors have cast that material uncertainty over the future trading of the club. All of this has understandably led to mass un-rest amongst fans, which in turn has caused the demonstrations etc. All of which must have an affect throughout the club and for none of which the blame can be rested at anyone other than the owners’ feet.

“Hicks – and again you’ll have to take a leap of faith with me here – is actually a respected businessman in the States, perhaps in the top two in what he does, and a man who rubs shoulders with Presidents.”

Hicks, like many other wealthy people, has lost a huge chunk of his wealth in recent times. I’m not too sure (if he is) how being respected by other businessmen (I take it David is excluding the creditors of Texas Rangers) helps if the majority of your customers have no respect for you. From what I read Texas Rangers are on a downward spiral and have been since Hicks’ tenure started. I read somewhere that he invested heavily at the start of his tenure but didn’t invest very wisely and the club has been slipping ever since.

He may know (or knew) how to make money but that does not always equate to having the club’s best interests at heart. The blue print I think went something like this – 1.buy club (c.£200m), 2.borrow against club assets, 3.build new stadium, 4.increase revenues, 5.sell club (c.£800m) (NB wear hat and scarf when at Anfield).  Now I have argued and will continue to argue that businessmen have every right to make money, but between step 2 and 3 came ‘unexpected credit crunch’. Hicks and Gillett could have done the morally right thing and put the club up for sale at say £300m and not lose money but not make it either. The club then could have been handed to others with more capital resource – but that wouldn’t have made business sense to the two Americans as they’d still see it as losing millions!

“The fact that the two couldn’t get on, and still don’t, is one of the biggest single reasons behind the mess of the last few years.”

No David I’m sorry. A lack of ability to inject capital investment into the club to progress the stadium while competing on the field is THE single reason for the mess. It is also the reason Moores sold the club, he couldn’t inject the required capital either so sold the club on to people he thought would. Yes they’ve argued and done some stupid things (Klinsmann) but that is a sideshow to the real problem.

“There have been fewer blunders since Christian Purslow took over, only the PR gaffe of Tom Hicks junior bad-mouthing fans causing ripples”

Those who read my blog regularly will know that I have/had the greatest of respect and hope for Christian Purslow. But David seems to have forgotten the matter of the Spirit of Shankly meeting minutes debacle. I have concluded that there are three possible outcomes of that situation:

1. He is a liar and is not to be trusted running our club, or,

2. He is incomeptent, didn’t control the situation at the meeting and is not to be trusted running our club, or,

3. He specifically released details which, while working to the benefit of Spirit of Shankly, had to be against the best interests of the club’s owners while weakening any negotiating position and is (yes you guessed it) not to be trusted running our club.

“Others, such as Albert Riera, Fabio Aurelio, Yossi Benayoun, Ryan Babel, Lucas, Emiliano Insua, David Ngog, and Damien Plessis are good enough players, but good enough to be champions?”

I’m not sure if David is suggesting that every player has to be to the standard of Torres. I never knew that Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea started every game with 11 world class players.

The rest goes on to Rafa and his tenure and just how bad he has been at his job. You can read that if you want. I’m not getting into all of that as well.

Don’t get me wrong Rafa, like others, have to stand up at the end of the season and take a fair proportion of the blame. I think he has made some mistakes in his 5 years but the thing that annoys me about the Maddock’s post is the writing off of so many off field distractions as if they’re just not that important. It’s like he thinks Rafa and the team are race horses with blinkers and falling at a fence can only be their own fault. If only life was that simple, if only we could quiet the outside noise with a click of the fingers. But we can’t and even suggesting that the situation off the pitch is used only as some sort of smokescreen for Rafa and the team is, in my opinion, ludicrous.

  1. Chris Lawley says:

    Maddock is a, well I could swear, but I will just call him a Gary Neville, and we all know what I mean by that. I think everyone must take a share of the blame for whats happened this season from the owners, the Manager and his staff, the players and even at times the fans

  2. RobboHuyton says:

    He’s a Bluenose, end of.

  3. tracey says:

    First, since when do you dump a manager after ONE bad season? It’s LFC not Chelsea. Second, if you sack Rafa you’d better be sure you can get someone better. Those who think Jose or Fabio are sitting waiting for a phonecall probably think Angelina Jolie is dying for a date with them too.

  4. 2yyiam says:

    Great points, what a complete c**k!
    Could you post the link for your article rebutting Henry Winter please – I don’t think I’ve read it.

  5. Peter A says:

    Great response. If I could be bothered to write to Maddock I would but that would be just the response he’s after. I’m so tired of the garbage written in the press against Benitez. There is an agenda among the press against the manager which has been going on for years and has climaxed recently due to our problems. The irony is that we pay the wages of these journalists by purchasing the papers they write for.

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