Friday, 31 December 2010

Liverpool's heroes and villains of 2010

As we stand on the precipice of a new year many will take time out to reflect on the previous years' events and look forward to what 2011 could hold and, while our focus should remain on the future, the events of 2010 must be remembered for their historic impact on the future of Liverpool Football Club.

In a year of twists, turns and turbulence many unexpected heroes have claimed a place in Anfield folklore with their contribution to the club, while others will forever be despised for their role in the destructive reign of our previous American owners.

In this piece I identify three heroes and three villains from 2010 and assess their impact on our great club.


1. New England Sports Ventures (NESV)

With the club in turmoil ahead of the approaching bank deadline that could have thrown our club head first into administration and financial meltdown, NESV patiently endured the frustrating legal battles between Hicks and Gillett and RBS that were blocking their purchase of the club. They could have quite easily dismissed Liverpool as a club in crisis, cancelled the deal with the Liverpool board and flown back to America.

However, they saw the historic opportunity to own one of the world's most loved sporting institutions and refused to buckle under pressure from Mill Financial and the former owners. Now, after they have removed the previous owners' acquisition debt and returned the club to a stable financial footing, they appear to be the right owners for the club's long-term future.

Their record with the Boston Red Sox suggests a willingness to invest significantly when necessary but also an emphasis on youth, self-sufficiency and the long-term health and prosperity of the club. Not only does this philosophy make commercial and sporting sense in the modern era, it also perfectly fits Shankly's ethos of the Liverpool Way and provides a platform for the club to compete for the club game's biggest trophies on a regular basis while also remaining faithful to the long-held and world renowned traditions of Liverpool FC.

2. Martin Broughton, Christian Purslow and Ian Ayre

Employed by the banks to sell the club Broughton, Purslow and Ayre were key players in the sale of Liverpool. Despite initial fears that they were acting in the best interests of the parasites rather than the fans, they eventually displayed a sincere determination to rid us of Hicks and Gillett and sell the club to the right owners.

They risked their own livelihoods by entering a vicious civil war with the previous owners that dragged the club's good name through the mud of public scandal. However, the High Court judged in their favour and allowed them to remain on the board and complete the final stages of the sale process.

Although Purslow's role in the removal of Rafa and the appointment of Roy casts a shadow over their time at the club, their passionate desire to rescue the club from Hicks and Gillett will be remembered far longer than their negative effect on the field, and, for the first time in the club's history, will see three businessmen become Liverpool legends.

3. The supporters

The fans' role at the club has always been vital. All dedication and passion displayed be players and the manager derives from the people backing the club to the hilt on the stands. However, the usual role of supporters was dramatically changed this year when fans accustomed to discussing all things football were suddenly given a crash course in Law and Economics as we attempted all routes of action to remove the lying parasites destroying our club.

Whether it be marching in a protest, organising email campaigns or participating in boycotts so many fans' groups played a vital role in utilising the strength of feeling against the owners and effectively portraying that to the local, national and even international media.

The supporters truly demonstrated fan power in action and achieved the aim of removing Hicks and Gillett and their debt that was saddling the club and halting on field progress.


1. Tom Hicks and George Gillett

After three years of debt, lies and broken promises 2010 saw the hated reign of Tom Hicks and George Gillett come to a eventful and painful end. While the demise of George Gillett was relatively unspectacular as he defaulted on a loan to Mill Financial, Tom Hicks was never going to leave without kicking up a massive fuss.

Under pressure from RBS they put the club up for sale in April however the unrealistic asking price of £800 million remained a stumbling block to any deal and, when the board finally agreed the sale of the club, Hicks refused to leave, instead attempting to fire Christian Purslow and Ian Ayre and replace them with two of his puppets, Mack Hicks and Lori Kay McCutcheon, who would vote with Hicks and block the sale.

The resulting legal battle led to the re-constitution of the original board however Hicks still didn't give up as he dragged the club through the British and, bizarrely, the Texan legal system. Finally the club was sold and possibly the biggest villain in Liverpool's history was defeated by the fans.

2. Javier Mascherano

Formerly a firm fans' favourite Mascherano's relationship with both the club and its supporters soured significantly as he left the club in a typically petulant fashion this summer. While supporters may have understood his desire to leave a club in turmoil both on and off the pitch, more loyalty was expected from a player whose career Liverpool rescued.

The current Argentina captain was rotting in West Ham's reserves when he joined Liverpool for over £18 million after impressing during a brief loan spell. His energy and determination earned respect from supporters and his crunching tackles proved vital to the defensive stability of the team.

However, in August he was the epitome of everything wrong with player power as he stubbornly went on strike and refused to play in our crucial match away to Manchester City, demanding a move to Barcelona. Liverpool missed his strong presence in the middle and succumbed to a miserable 3-0 defeat. With few alternatives the club granted his wish and sold him to Barcelona for an insulting £13 million, leaving Liverpool lacking a world-class defensive midfielder and out of pocket.

3. Roy Hodgson

Brought in to 'stable the ship' and revive our on field fortunes Hodgson has abysmally failed to fulfil this task and has marginalized himself from the club's supporters in the process. Under Hodgson Liverpool have collected their lowest amount of points at this stage for 57 years and lie only three points above the relegation zone after eight defeats and only six victories in what has been a dreadful League campaign. Partner that with his outdated, negative, ineffective and boring tactics and it's not hard to understand why upwards of 95% of fans want to see the former Fulham manager sacked immediately.

To make things even worse Hodgson has embarrassed both himself and the club with his comments in the media. Criticising the supporters for protesting against the previous owners, describing our derby defeat as the best the team has performed under his guidance and suggesting that he may have to sell some star performers to Manchester United are examples of only a few of Hodgson's howlers.

The final straw for Roy arrived following the pathetic performance in the humiliating defeat at home to bottom side Wolves. After the match he even blamed the club's fans for the predicament we find ourselves in currently. Although he has since apologised and claimed his quotes were taken out of context his relationship with the fans has been damaged irreparably. In attempting to take on the Kop Hodgson has effectively signed his resignation letter already.

That concludes my review of what has been a fascinating year supporting Liverpool Football Club. This has also been my first year writing about the club I love and, although there hasn't been much good news to write about, I have enjoyed every moment.

Let's just hope that next year I'll be writing about footballing heroes and villains and not the antics of some boardroom members.

Happy New Year!


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