RED WATCH: Fans becoming problem rather than solution
Jan 23 2008 by Our Correspondent, Liverpool Daily Post
Fans becoming problem rather than solution
THERE was a time when a crisis at Liverpool was being only two points clear at the top of the table. And actually being in second place was considered such a seismic disturbance that the papers would trumpet ‘what’s gone wrong at Liverpool?’
In those days such melodramatic headlines could be smugly laughed off, safe in the knowledge that soon all would be well and that normal service would be resumed shortly.
Nowadays we can draw no such comfort from the current crisis surrounding Anfield, where for once the hyperbole of the national Press cannot be dismissed so easily.
For the truth is that the wheels are coming off at Liverpool. On the pitch, off the pitch and in the stands, the team are facing challenges on a scale unprecedented in recent times.
And no-one is emerging with any credit from our response.
Of course the absentee owners form an easy target for the fans to vent their spleen against, and their behaviour in recent weeks has been rightly castigated.
The crass announcement about the courtship of Klinsmann has undermined Benitez, perhaps fatally, and the continued speculation about their intentions, irrespective of their repeated protestations, is deeply unsettling and feeds the media frenzy currently surrounding the club.
But are they directly to blame for the frankly awful performances on the pitch we have witnessed this season?
Is it their fault that we’ve seen more draws this season than in 20 ‘Carry On’ films?
Is it their fault that many of our first team squad seem incapable of withstanding the pressure of playing for a big club?
These shortcomings have not just manifested themselves since the Benitez spat became public, they have dogged us from day one.
Looking at the season as a whole, the periods of success can be seen as the ‘blips’ in an otherwise depressing period of under-achievement, rather than the other way round.
The current turbulent backdrop has merely given some of our weaker players the excuse to under-perform. And it wasn’t the co-owners who signed them.
So what has so irked the fans who noisily voiced their protest against all things American on Monday night?
Their lack of support for Benitez can be rightly decried, but it appears that the threat of saddling the club with the debt incurred to fund the new stadium is the catalyst for this outpouring of disgust.
Now I haven’t researched this particular point, but I suspect that any such undertaking would have related to their purchase of the club, in contrast to the Glazers’ acquisition of Man United, rather than the funding of the stadium.
Some fans seem to believe, and indeed expect, that the Americans should build the stadium out of their own pockets, and then just hand it over to the club as a free asset. Cuckoo.
What I’m absolutely certain of is that the sort of prolonged protests staged during Monday night’s match will do much more to distract the players than any amount of backroom financial wrangling.
Was this display of unrest consistent with the ‘Liverpool Way’ we all profess to hold dear?
By all means express displeasure before or after the match, preferably in a civilised manner, but once the team cross the white line, all our efforts should be focused on supporting the team.
So far the fans have occupied the high moral ground but any more nights like Monday and we’ll be part of the problem, not the solution.