WILL YOU EVER WALK ALONE?

Posted: December 30, 2010 by thecognitivenomad in Football, Opinion

Chandrasekhar Jayarama Krishnan

My couch, Chennai

October 23 2010

The argument here is not that Liverpool failed to do what the big clubs achieved quite brilliantly, so far. There are no stunning contrasts in evidence yet; success and failure are to be measured by very narrow differences. Even the best of clubs have been through phases where their positions were placed under severe strain, by either the constant drain of resources or futile administrative battles.

It takes a great deal of blame storming to specifically examine the causes of collapse, often zeroing down on precise moments in which the destinies of empires were determined: A storm over Persia, the fall of Carthage, a battle for Rome and the rusty gates of Anfield Road. The greatest triumph of one is always the beginning of the end of another.

There is little doubt that each powerhouse that followed the last got better and better in its quest for national and continental glory, by devising devious strategies (through foreign ownership mostly) to proclaim its divine throne on the rest of the nation, stepping over the little clubs and holding them by their leash. Even Manchester City, just like those clubs before this era, will rise and fall, sooner or later. And a day will come when people will talk about such clubs as a long gone, forgotten concept, an idea that was meant to grow endlessly and read about in books of football history, remembered for what it was and what it could have become.

Just like Chelsea before them and Real Madrid FC, the men from Maine Road are now busy with their empire building, both in the continental and global branding sense. They are their own destiny; they make rules and break them – an invincible force trying to clutch the footballing world firmly in their hands of dominion. It sounds crudely mercantilistic to express it this way, but money is needed to acquire and protect glory these days.

If there is any trend that keeps coming back, it is that great powers come and go. No one can stay in the top forever. The cricketing heroes from the Caribbean saw it towards the mid-eighties, the Australian ‘invincibles’  have climbed down to P5 in the ICC rankings, few hardly remember the Chicago Bulls of the 90s, and Ferrari aren’t the dominating force they once were.

Liverpool FC has been through, and is going through, a phase where one too many a decision maker appears a fake conservative. There is no organized power that can restore the glory overnight, and with the dependency escalating dramatically, the only solution towards a repeat of ’89 and ’05 is patience. For a football world wary of Capitalist exceptionalism, this cannot happen too soon.

The argument here is not that Liverpool failed to do what the big clubs achieved quite brilliantly, so far. There are no stunning contrasts in evidence yet; success and failure are to be measured by very narrow differences. Even the best of clubs have been through phases where their positions were placed under severe strain, by either the constant drain of resources or futile administrative battles.

If a club over-expands itself strategically, it runs the risk that the potential benefits from expansion may be outweighed by the greatest expense of it all – a dilemma which becomes acute if the market has entered a period of economic decline. Or if the investments have gone haywire.

The story at Anfield has been a misapprehension towards entangling alliances like those with Messrs Hicks & Gillette. In fact, the loyal Kop were only too happy to see them disown the club and pass it over to yet another American capitalist. But it wouldn’t, essentially, enable us to return to the fairly isolationist posture that had brought many a laurel to the Kop.  Liverpool remain a great club because of the European might they once possessed, but they are in no sense an Empire, nor was there any real chance that they would try and become one.

There is still a great manager who should not be thrown out in haste; Hodgson’s basic views are still valuable and provide the basis for a compelling argument that right now, it is not within our right to be involved in the rat race to the top. The Soviets, once, could have quickly overextended to administer all Europe and would have tipped into an even more rapid decline than the one they eventually sank into. The state of affairs at Merseyside are partially polemical, a purpose to portray Liverpool as a club in decline and to cast doubt upon the most faithful of supporters as to where the fulcrum of the problem lies.

It is okay to get drawn into a rat race, provided that you seek to win it and return the club to its days of glory and preparedness afterwards. But we live with change every day, changes that may prove drastic enough to sweep old standards away forever. The great wheel turns, always forward, never back.

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