(The following post was written by Liverpool fan Antoine Choueiri, who has already contributed to the blog before. As I could not possibly write anything related to Liverpool, and since this blog is about having all sorts of views, I'll let him do the talking or as he simply puts it "I was asked to review Liverpool FC’s season in a page before we lost the FA Cup final. Could have done a 10-page formal report but here’s my not-so-posh-one-page shot".)
It’s May, and just like every year since the mighty 1964, we Liverpool fans look back and count the trophies we’ve won this season. (Well, it’s been a while since we needed a calculator, but it’s an old tradition you know)
Liverpool Football Club had already lifted a (the smallest) major trophy in February, and was looking to lift their ultimate prize this season, the oldest and most prestigious football trophy in history that is the FA Cup. A few centimeters away from our most successful season since 2001 (a single European Cup trophy is still a single trophy), we saw our hopes crushed by a composed Chelsea performance (who happen to be going through the most exciting times of their entire history since their formation in 2004), easily cruising past a silent, shy, lost, poor, or simply shite Liverpool team.
It’s both funny and unfortunate that our most important game of the season perfectly summed up the last 9 months. Poor, but yet underachieving expensive signings, all looking lost ; two goals conceded from defensive mistakes, shyness up front, and most of all, bad luck. It could have been all different had the eleven Liverpool players celebrated the so-called “ghost goal” like they did in the 2005 semi (the ball DID cross the line, Mourinho), it could have been all different had the linesman just seen the ball behind the line. It could have been a great season. But it wasn’t.
After last year’s events and our finish on a high (we were unplayable), and the money recouped from the players’ sales and the owners’ contribution, the least we could expect was a fine season. What we got is 8th (?) in the league and the Carling Cup. Turns out it takes much, much more than that to get a sport institution like Liverpool FC back to the top. We’ve had to deal with new owners, new managers, the Suarez saga, Carroll’s negligence, the other signings’ under-performances, Lucas and Gerrard’s injuries, a thousand woodworks, and the endless list of harmful factors and bad luck.
Who’s at fault? Laying the blame on Kenneth Mathieson Dalglish alone, the man who’s won 28 major trophies at Liverpool, won us finals by himself, gave us 14 years of magical memories, picked up the club in the aftermath of Heysel and kept it going, and attended every single one of the 96 Hillsborough funerals is bang out of order. The same man who’s built arguably the strongest Liverpool team ever (1987/1988) and one of the most exciting sides in football history, and brought back flashes of this classy brand of football when he replaced Roy Hodgson. Even the greatest human associated with LFC is not immune of criticism, but the issue is much, much bigger than that.
In October 2010, Liverpool Football Club was on the brink of administration, hours away from rotting in financial crises and eternal mediocrity, at best. If you’d come at the time and told me we would win a domestic Cup, finish Runner-Ups in the other, we’d have professional owners, no debts, money to spend, be on a firmer footing, and have Kenny fu**in' Dalglish as our manager, I’d have told you to piss right off.
For the first time since David Moores sold the family silver to a pair of cow-boys, Liverpool FC looks like the unity carved by Bill Shankly himself 50 years ago, the Holy Trinity, the managers, the players and the supporters (and the owners). Liverpool FC is a club in transition; the once colossal, conquering bastion of invincibility, has been reduced to a pitiful, sinking ship, only to be rescued at the last-minute, and is still going though a steadying process. The (shameful) people who are calling for Kenny’s head are the same ones who called for Rafa’s head a couple of years back, and they got Roy Hodgson. Let’s not make the same mistake. Let’s not lose the man who said he will forever be in debt to Liverpool FC. Let’s not lose the man that is everything this football club is about. The least we owe him is another chance, another season and a proper backing.
Prior to the final whistle on Saturday, 30,000 Scousers, heads and scarves held high, burst into one of the most loud and passionate YNWA renditions ever, even though we were losing the FA Cup final and our season dwindled in the most disastrous of ways. A Wembley message of forgiveness to a team which had let them down for sixty minutes (and most of the last 9 months), but which had then responded impressively but belatedly. The fans stood with their players, their manager and their club in their moment of shared despair, pain and disappointment.
That is something the plastic-waving Chelsea fans will never have, or understand. It’s something you cannot buy, something Bill Shankly would have been proud of. It’s what makes Liverpool Football Club special.
Hold your head up high, and bring on next season. A Golden Sky awaits.