Black mark on soul of Reds

I wrote yesterday that if they sacked Kenny Dalglish the last vestige of soul would disappear from Anfield.

Grandiose stuff, and fairly blinkered too, I guess.

In the last 20 years any shred of honour, truth or integrity has been squeezed out of this sport as a whole. We’re certainly not the only ones to suffer.

A summer of introspection lies ahead. Football fans are nothing if not pragmatic. You can detest cheating, but if it won your team a late penalty you can always whistle and look skywards. You can even pretend to have seen a touch of the ankle that sent your forward plummeting towards earth in excruciating pain. Morality and eyesight always wear your club’s colours.

You can despise those who found billionaire sugar daddies that collect players like others collect seashells but, offered the same resources, we can all bend over and pretend we’re different, a business maximising ‘the brand’ and all that rot.

Player accused of racism? You’ll do hours of research on the cultural divisions of continents, berate the accusers, demonise the authorities and fixate on any double standards thereafter. Because you care.

Some men rise above the commonplace, represent something better, something to believe in — and when ‘your’ club dumps on those men from a great height there is nowhere left to run or hide, no corner of consolation to sit in and wait for the whole wretched fiasco to fizzle out.

For me, and thousands of others, Dalglish was such a man. Not perfect, in football there is no perfection, just a slightly less flawed man who earned the right to respect 100 times over.

If I’m honest the soul of Liverpool Football Club was reduced to ash in 2007. What we see now are the consequences of that ill-judged, ill-prepared change which made profit imperative to any success or any notion that this was a club to be proud of.

Just consider this. The men who made this abominable decision know nothing about football. To date they have appointed nobody who can take charge whilst they take care of their real business in Boston.

The same men will determine who replaces Dalglish. Are you happy about that? Seriously? It is a generational thing for sure. Those who watched him play (and could he play) will feel differently to those who grew up in another era entirely.

Does that impede all empathy though? I never saw Liddell play but he is always in my all-time top five, precisely because I was brought up to believe that. It doesn’t matter if grainy black and white footage says otherwise, he was a genius.

Benitez, Hodgson, Dalglish; time is no longer part of your remit, Mr Manager. Get it right immediately or you will not be around for much longer. What’s more, that decision will be made by men who know or care nothing about your club, your city or your sport.

Our lives are nothing to them; just your credit card and your bank balance, like everything else in life.

We knew Kenny could be prickly, his contempt for journalists matching our own. Now every hand-biting, backstabbing scumbag has been handed a month of exultation. People like me were making excuses for him, too many I confess, but some of those reasons had validity and weren’t merely the face-saving protection of a favourite. They can’t just be swept aside and ignored.

The next guy will be making those same claims, because this team isn’t lolloping back into the higher echelons any time soon. And what happens then? “We will become like everybody else,” I wrote yesterday.

Now that speculation becomes reality, I actually think it’s worse than that.

More than Hicks and Gillett even, Fenway have hacked at the root of LFC. We weren’t too happy with the season but we reached two cup finals and it has been deemed unworthy.

Even worse, they have slashed at the very fabric of the sport, the glory and (yes) the sentiment of the game itself.

See you next season. Maybe.


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