The Long and Winding Road Back.Posted: October 4, 2011
A year has passed, 365 days, 52 weeks, 12 whole months. A year has passed since what says you? This day last year Liverpool Football club was rock bottom. Our fan base had been knocked down numerous times by two conniving, conning Americans who ended up ruining one of the biggest footballing institutions in world football. We had taken a beaten, we were battered and bruised. The deadline set by the banks for Hicks and Gillett to pay back their loans was less than two weeks away. From Huyton to Hobart, Reds everywhere chewed every nail off their finger for the next two weeks and after a lot of toing and froing a hearing in a Kangaroo court in Dallas and of course, 2 trips to the High court in London, and of course, the obligatory Internet terrorism we all heard the news we wanted to hear. Hicks and Gillett were no longer custodians of our club, but who could have imagined such a vast improvement in fortune over such a short period in time?
The turnaround since October last year has been nothing short of miraculous. From the 11 that started on that horrible Sunday afternoon against the tangerines, only 4 remained for this weekend’s Derby day win over Everton at Goodison Park (For the record, we ended that day in the relegation zone, we now sit 5th). A massive turnover in players and staff has started to pay dividends for the reds. And most of the credit has to go to club legend Kenneth Mathieson Dalglish (Or King Kenny to you) for this amazing turnaround. Despite jibes from, lets face it, Mancunians, ‘that he had been out of the game too long’ and that ‘it was them sentimental scousers at it again’. He has restored our pride, and more importantly, had everybody singing for the same thing.
The emphasis over the past 6 months has been to replace the overpaid, mercenaries who had blighted our squad for the previous two years with young, hungry professionals who have a future in the game. Dalglish may have overpaid for his players this summer, but there has been no doubt that a significant improvement has been made. Another important factor to remember is that they are his signings, his first choice (which previous managers were not able to do ). Over the summer, many fans were questioning his sanity for spending big money on Stewart Downing instead of going for some Spanish wonderkid who has a skill rating of 20 on Football manager who has ‘inio’ on the end of his name, but, so far so good and hopefully these players will continue to steadily improve over the rest of the season.
Of course, the improvement on the pitch hasn’t been just the appointment of a manager who is worth his weight in gold. The strange sight of competent, sensible (so far, anyway) owners of the club has been a luxury enjoyed by Dalglish which the previous two managers never enjoyed. However, exactly 12 months ago, when news broke of NESV’s (New England Sports Ventures, later changed to Fenway Sports Group) bid to buy the club. There was huge scepticism when we first learned that Martin Broughton and co had decided they were the preferred bidders.
The main worry was that we were jumping from the fire-pan and into the fire. The fans had a right to be worried about what the future had in store, especially that our new overlords were from the same continent as the previous ‘yanks’.
So far, it has turned out, thats where the similarities ended. The Fenway sports group set about solving all of the problems that the previous cowboys had left behind. The huge burden of debt was wiped out almost immediately when the sale went through. They met with the fans and tried to get a feel of what the fans wanted.. Damien Comolli was appointed as Director of Football strategy to help prize the young talent from Europe and re-locate it to L4.
But, perhaps the main thing that impressed the fans was the briskness in which the £50m that the club received for Fernando Torres was spent. The owners could have easily kept the money and told Dalglish to get on with his job, but he was backed in the transfer market and the owners trusted his judgement. A fresh change from years gone by.
As of right now, no decision has been made on whether a new stadium will be built in Stanley Park (which has been the plan for the last 10 years) or whether FSG’s preferred option of redeveloping Anfield will come to fruition. One thing is for certain it is a totally different approach is being taken by the owners and it is nothing like the ‘There will be a spade in the ground in 60 days’ that Hicks and Gillett spun us.
It has been an a rollercoaster ride over the past 12 months. And nobody would have imagined after the Blackpool game last year that we would be in a sound position on and off the field. There is still a lot more to come from this team and with Arsenal in turmoil there is no reason why a top 4 finish wont be achieved at the end of this coming term.
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