Moving On?

Posted: May 20, 2012 by mcdonaldtaf in Business, Finance, Liverpool FC, Manager Talk
Tags: , ,

In a bizarre twist of events our club finds itself on, what appears, a sound financial footing yet still tearing itself to pieces. Maybe that’s too strong a term, for what could well be the over exuberant and noisy minority? Although, it still appears there is this clique bitching about that clique, while frustration continues to surface. Maybe frustration will remain until performances match the very high expectations we demand (and the word is demand) from our club. Are we really only able to stand together when we are riding high or on the precipice of destruction?

The negative reaction to FSG’s swift culling of senior figures at the club seems to have come too early. Perhaps proving that the scars left by the club’s previous Amercian owners remain. Itching and irritating from time to time, making us sensitive and likely to react at the first signs of more pain. In fact, while I don’t agree with some decisions, I’d go as far to say that it’s refreshing to see such definite action delivered with respect. Who wouldn’t be up in arms had it transpired that FSG had talked to other managers over the past few months? They said that decisions would be made at the end of the season and that is what has happened. Their need to maintain the respect those senior individuals deserved (befitting of the Liverpool way of old) means that a delay will be incurred. This should be applauded rather than the frantic search for a panic button.

The key decision was clearly whether or not Dalglish should have survived to manage the club next season. Personally I think he’d done enough to warrant another season at the helm – but I don’t have millions (or tens of millions) of pounds resting on the finishing position of the club. There had been signs of the potential, which was simmering away, being delivered. But for every boiling point we mustered (usually against the bigger clubs) the old habit of going tepid against smaller sides continued to plague us.

So we have a fresh start from next season and maybe that’s what we really need after the past few seasons. Finally, in many different ways, a line can finally be drawn and we can turn a new page. Even the new retro warrior kit has a real ‘fresh’ feel to it (despite some mis-handling at launch). It can sometimes be the small changes which makethe difference, particularly when a cultural and/or structural change is required. Culture is a strange animal to manage in any organisation, never mind one where the culture is of such importance to all those connected to the club.

This fresh start is I assume one of the hurdles in seeing the return of Rafa Benitez to Anfield. The majority of the kop would back such a move from FSG, I feel. Elsewhere in the ground I’m sure an increasing number would still be holding their lack of faith in Benitez as a reason to express their dis-satisfaction. This would be despite Benitez’s success prior to and during his stay at Anfield.

In many ways I think what Benitez brings should fit FSG down to the ground. Despite the ludicrous levels of mis-information,which even persists today, he had a successful transfer record at Anfield. Not only in the way he took us so close to the title with financial restraints (compared to others) but also in the value he created from players he signed in terms of both performance while they played and cold hard cash once they left. Unless there is Man City type money locked in the Anfield safe we’re not being told about, then this type of value can play a pivotal role in club success.

Benitez’s ability to take players and improve them on a (generally) consistent basis is too often overlooked. Instead his detractors will point to players like Ryan Babel who never quite made the grade. Especially when other managers never got it wrong  – Veron anyone? There is no point pulling out all the figures again. If you’re not convinced that Benitez’s signings made a profit overall for the club then you’ll never be convinced – black and white clearly not being black and white enough for you.

You can probably tell who I’d go for. That said I do accept that such a move could be seen as a backwards step; when the club is desperately trying to gain momentum moving forwards on all fronts. To some Benitez also became a divisive figure towards the end of his tenure; although his working conditions left him with an unfair and inhospitable environment within which to operate – and thus unfair to judge him on. To be fair I think he often got caught in the middle of things and became a focal point because of his love for the club. Is this a bad thing?

I suspect that Rafa won’t get another try, this time round. Indeed his next opportunity may only arrive at Anfield once he’s found success elsewhere. At which point I’m sure some will be banging on FSG’s email inbox asking why they didn’t take him when they had the chance.

Because, as in life, FSG (unless we have immediate success) will be damned whichever way they go. We’ve become very good at showing our dis-pleasure – perhaps a little too good? We can share views and opinions immediately and we can also shape opinions through the explosion of social media.

Personally I think it’s time to just let things crinkle out for a while and give FSG some breathing space to make decisions. We have after all only just finished the season.

I’ve seen that some individuals have been singled out for having direct contact with the club. I’m a little bemused as to why. I find it refreshing that views are being sought from outside the confines of the board room. Views which shouldn’t just be restricted to those delivered from the supporters committee – as good an idea as the committee is. I can only assume there is some dis-satisfaction with who is and (perhaps more importantly) isn’t being contacted. If I owned the club I’d want views from far and wide, but we all know I could never take on board views from everybody. I hope those who were singled out do not withdraw from any involvement (as minor as it may be) with the club. Then the majority lose out, for the sake of the few.

From a management perspective I see nothing to be worried about at this juncture. If we’re two weeks from the start of next season with key people missing then we can start to bang the drums. Let’s face it if the club announced all new appointments today we’d start shouting about them rushing things. Once, not so long ago, there was a time for action. That time has gone and hopefully will not return. Now there is a time for a more dignified unison from the club’s supporters. That time should start… now!

Coming soon… full review of 2011 LFC accounts (subscribe on the left to be notified once published) 

  1. Sam Wanjere says:

    I was always pro-Benitez McDonald, just like KD (NOT Hodgson). Why Rafa back? He knows the club inside out and made real effort to immerse himself in LFC. I remember the way our Spanish players would stress Benitez making them learn and respect Anfield culture.

    His transfer record comes to us through the same media that hounded then crucified RB and so objectivity is often lost. We didn’t overspend on players. How could we when G & H had sucked LFC coffers dry with loan repayments? The work he did on a shoestring budget is the stuff of legends but rarely acknowledged – unfortunately, even by our own.

    What was Rafa’s vision? To unify all playing elements of this club and make them work as one. He revolutionized our playing style from the lowest teams to the highest, recruiting those who’d help him attain his vision of one style – not unlike Barcelona’s La Massia.

    I see him as a good fit too, in the right climate, and possessing the requisite character to weather the hostile English media. He is also proven at the topmost level and a winner any way you look at his formidable record.

  2. Jim Craig says:

    Great piece, nice to see something written thoughtfully and positively amongst all the howling and wailing.

  3. Ed Margerum says:

    The dismissal of Dalglish and the Press Secretary is as much for mishandling the Suarez affair as for mediocre performance on the pitch. LFC and FSG depend on the “kindness” of sponsors for cash. The Suarez incident soured the sponsorship market. This doesn’t exonerate the Football Association honchos for their equally botched handling of the Evra charges. I was sorry to see Kenny go, but he didn’t effectively deal with the media, a difficult, but important task, and often his explanation for poor performances against lesser teams was kindly rather than informative, i.e., “The lads were tired.”

    • mcdonaldtaf says:

      I can’t disagree with that – although, I think it’s part of Kenny’s make-up to put the team ahead of anything. Which isn’t a bad thing and is a tactic employed by other managers.

  4. Steve says:

    I disagree that FSG have the luxury of time. The new manager, whoever it may be (including Rafa, although not so much), needs as much time to get his feet under the table as possible (its probably going to be small, with little room to get his (or her) legs between the chair and table and lots of uncomfortable ‘oohs’ and ‘ah’s’ slotting into place, before he (or she) finds out its giving them back problems). If our new leader is going to be given a war chest of funds to imprint his (or her) master plan into action, he (or she) will need to work quickly in the transfer market. Most people can see where the weakness’ lie within our current squad, but I for one do not want random decisions forced by the lack of time, made on choosing new playing staff as much as I do not want to see the exact same squad as this season, next season. That is assuming they will be given money to splash (hopefully unlike coins into a wishing well), however conservative it may be.
    With the Euro’s knocking at our front door (for England that being a trap door), it must be in the minds of all agents that they will have an opportunity to raise the value of their player (N.B. Torres, good luck with that). There is the benefit that it will only be the European players who will be in the shop window, but still, no one at LFC wants us to be buying off the back of a good International performance (Diouf!).
    Its not just the transfer market that worries me, the new manager will need to meet with the likes of Gerrard, Suarez, Reina, Skrtel, Agger, Carra and co, to give them confidence that he (or she) will be driving the club forwards. If this is not done soon enough, you can forget about the Twitterati getting as shaky as an overweight woman on a wobble board, it will be the players and their agents that I would be worrying about, putting their Salad Finger feelers out and maybe even making written agreements (with invisible ink, naturally).
    I was looking forwards to this coming season and seeing our much changed midfield (Charlie Adam aside) finding their collective feet under the guidance of King Kenny. Now I have come to terms with owners choice of a new direction (yes its intended to sound like an innuendo), I do not want to see a mass exodus (which is unlikely I know) just to have to go through the ‘bedding in’ period (Pre-May is the best month to plant summer seeds my Mum tells me) all over again.
    I think it is a good thing that FSG are window shopping, they should be looking in more potentially red lit boxes than a sticky palmed, trench coat wearing, first time Amsterdam visiting pervert in my opinion. Also, I do not worry when I read about potential suitors start pulling their curtains back and closing the door in their faces, but I would have hoped that they already had a good idea of who they wanted, the minute they decided to let Kenny go. If they have, this text will have been a moot point and we will be reading (pre-Euro 2012) about our next ‘glittering’, ‘all star’, ‘no holds barred’, ‘man of the moment’, ‘great potential’, ‘unpolished diamond’, ‘wannabee’, ‘oh he’ll do’. ‘why didn’t they give it to Rafa’, ‘I didn’t know he was still alive’ appointment.

    I’ll support the poor sod, whoever it is.


  5. Ed Margerum says:

    I agree with Steve that FSG is under the gun. While the domestic supporters are loyal until death, there are sponsors to be satisfied and far off support to be grown. It’s hard to grow support with a near mid-table standing. The Reds have been “once upon a time” for too long. I think FSG realizes urgency is needed.
    I don’t know enough about football to say that Brendan Rodgers is the answer. However, he’s young, forceful, hungry, demands control and has a fine record to build on. He wants to make a name for himself and now he has the opportunity.

    • mcdonaldtaf says:

      I must confess that after speaking to a few people I’m becoming increasingly more comfortable with Rodgers.

      • Ed Margerum says:

        The past season did nothing to diminish Kenny Dalglish. He is a Liverpool hero and icon. He always will be. I had high hopes that he would be able to lead the Reds forward. He won a cup and had a chance to win two. However, something went wrong in the new year. Liverpool stopped winning and ended up in 8th place with a meager 52 points. That’s the lowest position and the fewest points ever garnered by Liverpool in the Premier. It wasn’t just that the Reds were getting beaten with the coming of 2012. It was that they were losing to Wigan, Fulham, West Brom, Bolton, Sunderland, QPR and Swansea, some of whom admittedly played very well. It looked as if Kenny had lost the thread or that the opponents had figured out how to beat him. Add on LFC’s difficulty winning home games. So Kenny got the axe. LFC had lost faith in his ability to move the club forward and, I believe, they were right.

        Some say that FSG are in it for the money. They may be rich bastards, but they’re not morons. Only morons sink their money into sports to make more money. Very few club owners turn a profit. Rich bastards buy teams to show that they are smarter and more powerful than the other rich bastards. FSG wants a winner. LFC’s decline after the New Year indicated Kenny wasn’t the one to lead FSG into the promised land.

        Kenny is a good and decent man and will always be loved by Liverpool supporters, and everyone else who appreciates good and decent men. However, he’s not the one to lead LFC back to glory. LFC needs somebody younger with skill, vision, a fire in his belly and the desire to make his name. LFC needs a man who can provide the supporters with lively, aggressive football.

        Any new manager, regardless of reputation, must prove that he is the right man for Liverpool. That man could be Brendan Rodgers. Rodgers is coming in under his own terms and definitely will be the man to praise or blame. I wish him well.

  6. Ed Margerum says:

    An error in the above: “LFC had lost faith” etc. should read “FSG had lost faith…”

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