Unprofessional Foul


September 23, 2010

Notes On A Shambles

Bit of a shower, really

In the summer of 1955, Allen Ginsberg wrote Howl, his stirring Beat poem, an ode to those peers and intellects left destroyed and ravaged by life in America during a difficult, oppressive Post-war period.

Today, his achingly raw words take on a fresher tone when applied to myself and fellow Liverpool fans struggling to make sense of the modern football culture that’s alarmingly close to leaving us behind, for we are the ones “destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,” and “burning for the ancient heavenly connection” to the glory days that are now distant memory.

This might seem a bit too hyperbolic or melodramatic, but I woke up this morning to a soccer universe in which Liverpool were beaten out of a rather unimportant tournament by a team some 70 places below us in the current Football League pantheon. Northampton Town fully deserved the win, and in defeat, this team finally deserves my own disparate, disgruntled thoughts.

On a micro level, losing to the Cobblers of League Two seems like yet another embarrassment in domestic cups, indistinguishable from the rest on face value. Last season, it was a home defeat to Reading in extra time of a FA Cup Third Round replay, outplayed on home turf like we were last night. In 2008-09, it was Barnsley, also at home, in the FA Cup. And so it goes.

This is less about the lack of priority given to these tournaments, but about the fact that when your second string team, dotted here and there with players purported to belong to the first XI, can’t beat a League Two side, it stands to reason that playing other teams is, and will be, equally laborious. This is 2010-11 at Anfield, folks. A Sisyphean struggle to stay within touching distance of the teams that actually matter.

Do we blame Roy Hodgson? Too early to tell. Though his pedestrian, modest practices have dovetailed too regularly with the Control Freak that was Rafa Benitez, he’s doing what he was hired to do: handle the squad with limited budget and maximum restraint. Keep things in a holding pattern. Steady the ship. Keep the shape, etc.

Do we blame the players? They’re certainly part of the problem. Coddled yet seemingly bulletproof to overwhelming dissent from outside the ranks, they’ve responded much how I’d expect: by playing and doing everything within their power to try not to lose. With all these emotions internalized and brooding, their style is timid. Dull. Overly protective. Afraid to do anything that might make the situation worse.

Do we blame the owners? They certainly take a slice, for their endless remonstrations with banks, lenders and investment groups for more rope with which to hang themselves have led the club to be labeled, perhaps forevermore, as a “toxic asset.”

Solutions are few and far between, all involving wholesale change. This is a club that cannot heal slowly, for everyone in England’s top flight is living in borrowed time. Ask the Icarus that was Leeds United, gambling away their future for a chance to take one more ride in Europe. It failed, and so did they. The effects lasted nearly a decade.

Ultimately, we shouldn’t read too much into one calamitous result in the Carling Cup, though that in itself was just one more mark against a season of disappointment so far. It’s so utterly strange to think that opening day’s 1-1 draw with Arsenal might well be considered the high point of this long, long campaign.

About the Author

James T


  1. Pacheco was played out of position. He isn’t a wide player, he plays behind the striker. Playing him out right made him useless, which made that side easy to exploit as Kelly isn’t a natural fullback and while he played well there was nobody in front of him to help out. When Eccleston came on he was played as a left winger. He’s a striker. Ngog and Babel were left on way too long. When Pacheco came off it should have been for Amoo who is a natural right winger. Shelvey should have come on way earlier as he had the most experience of anyone on the team playing against lower league competition (and when he came on in extra time he completely changed the team).

    So what I’m saying is. Hodgson has no f**king idea what he is doing.

  2. Outside Mid

    @ James T: Rage, rage against the dying of the light./ Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail./Dylan Thomas’d & Ralph Emerson’d

  3. James T

    @Georger’s New Name
    I accept all that, but I have to draw the line somewhere. Are these guys so hopeless that using a player 10 feet left or right of his ideal position renders him inept and useless?

  4. Shane

    At least Everton lost, eh?
    Liverpool: the home of football. Sounds like a winner to me!

  5. Chris D

    On a more positive note, a much more positive note, I have the new Belle & Sebastian! A week early. Get at me if you want it.

    /trying to do anything to keep himself from thinking about this post and what it means.

    But Steven Gerrard seems encouraged. And not ready to jump ship. See football365.com.

    Soon after the war in the 50′s people became happy and things immensely turned around you know. They bought cars that looked like space ships and became happy with suburban simple life. Maybe LFC’s future is really bright. Maybe Jay Spearing is like the cars the look like space ships. Maybe I’m nuts.

  6. If it’s one person, no. When both your fullbacks aren’t fullbacks and both your wide players aren’t wide players it is going to f**k up the flow of the team. Especially when the central midfield consists of Spearing and Lucas. More about not being able to actually use their talents rather than them being useless.

  7. Who cares about Baby Shambles? Didn’t it break up after Doherty went on his drug binge?

  8. By the way, Georger, congrats on getting your doctorate.

  9. Outside Mid

    William Burroughs: “Desperation is the raw material of drastic change. Only those who can leave behind everything they have ever believed in can hope to escape.”

  10. Keith

    @Georger, PhD: So what you’re saying is Fire Hodgson?

  11. the majority of ManU fans may be bandwagoners or frontrunners, chelsea fans johnnies-come-lately, arsenal fans…(well, i like arsenal fans), but every single liverpool fan i know (this includes several friends) has an outrageous sense of entitlement such that they somehow deserve to always be great. the amount of whingeing that comes out of the lot of you is absolutely staggering.

    face it, your team is no good right now and they might not be good for a while. the “blame the owners! no, blame the coaches! no, blame the s**tty players! who else can we blame for this?!” game is f**king tired as hell.

    i love coming to this site, you all do a great job, but this s**t gets ridiculous. have a little patience and perspective.

  12. James T

    Entitled? More like “I just want a team that’s competitive.”
    Oh, and regarding blame, I guess you’re right. We just suck, and there’s nothing more to it. Looking for answers or reasons is folly!

  13. Shane

    Captain Murphy: “Alvis was the holiest man ever to slap iron! He killed for your sins!”

  14. Outside Mid

    Capt Murphy: “Attention all personnel: the black death is here. The great pestilence is finally upon us. Repent! Repent!”

  15. James T

    It is funny that the first time I bitch about LFC in forever, I get called out for it. Still, Alex, your point is taken in good spirit. Believe me when I say I’m trying hard to have patience, but this team is headed for a bottom-half finish at this rate. I don’t see how that could be construed as acceptable or satisfactory in any way, shape, or form.

  16. Tno

    “blame the owners! no, blame the coaches! no, blame the s**tty players! who else can we blame for this?!”
    So what should fans do? Sit around, watch the game, go to sleep repeat? We support teams to second guess coaching decisions and ownership moves. Get mad at players for not caring as much as we do.

  17. Outside Mid

    @ JT: It doesn’t seem like you’re bitching, more like an overdue lament for the club’s current form. Most of the posted content lately has been on the comedic acts of Stadler, Waldorf, and the LFC board as opposed to how and why the club is performing poorly. Perhaps an early season assessment of how the “Big 4″ has shrunk to a Big 2 or 3 and why those other clubs expected to be vying to be in the Top 7 have been underperforming this season is needed?

  18. Outside Mid

    @ JT: In short, it’s your supported club and your blog, you don’t have to be so restrained on your Liverpool critiques.

  19. @JT: yes, entitled. who doesn’t want a competitive team?

    perhaps i find myself getting aggravated because of the consistency of the complaints, or that there are just so many ‘pool fans around, but that doesn’t change the tone in which they’re uttered (which to my ears boils down to: “we’ve always been the best! this cannot stand!”).

    frankly, your plight isn’t that bad. if you get relegated like newcastle (or leeds or pompey) did then i’ll have a little more sympathy. but i don’t see that happening. arsenal haven’t won anything lately but the relative volume of their fans’ collective complaint is comparatively minimal.

  20. Tno

    Arsenal has been in the group stages of the Champions league the last two years.

  21. @jt: also, i don’t mean to take it out on you personally.

  22. Tno

    I think OM was trying to say “It’s your blog, you can cry if you want to.”

  23. Outside Mid

    @ TNO: You would cry to if it happened to you/Leslie Gore’d

  24. Keith

    Hodgson was recently spotted wandering the training ground singing this:

    Frankly, Spirit of Shankly, this position I’ve held
    It pays my way, and it corrodes my soul
    I want to leave, you will not miss me
    I want to go down in managing history

    Frankly, Spirit of Shankly, I’m a sickening wreck
    I’ve got the 21st century breathing down my neck
    I must move fast, you understand me
    I want to go down in managing history, Spirit of Shankly

    Fame, Fame, fatal Fame
    It can play hideous tricks on the brain
    But still I’d rather be Famous
    Than righteous or holy, any day
    Any day, any day

    But sometimes I’d feel more fulfilled
    Making Christmas cards with the mentally ill
    I want to live and I want to Love
    I want to win a trophy I might be ashamed of

    Frankly, Spirit of Shankly, this position I’ve held
    It pays my way and it corrodes my soul
    Oh, I didn’t realise that you wrote terrace chants
    I didn’t realise you wrote such bloody awful terrace chants, Spirit of Shankly

    Frankly, Spirit of Shankly, since you ask
    You are all dithering pains in the arse
    I do not mean to be so rude
    Still, I must speak frankly, Spirit of Shankly

    Oh, give us your money !

  25. Ryan

    If Northampton can beat Liverpool, they may be good enough to earn promotion. I wonder how they’ll fare against MLS sides next year?

  26. James T

    Frankly, we haven’t always been the best. Not for 10+ years have we been the best, and even then we weren’t. It’s just dispiriting in the short-term to see us go from 2nd in 2008 to god-knows-where in 2010. That would be unacceptable for any supporter, regardless of team history.

    @Tno @Outside Mid
    I’d rather not cry, because a) that’s uncomfortable and b) no-one wants to read that post. This was a bit more measured, though not by much. If I, or UF in general, hadn’t said anything about it, that would have been a shame, because last night did happen and can’t be hidden.

    That was your best one yet, mate. A+++


  27. Any time we get full Smiths lyrics adapted to mock Liverpool, I am a happy man.
    +1 Keith

  28. Keith

    @TSE: It’s even more mocking because the Moz is a Manc.
    @JT: As Paul McCartney and Keef Richards have proven, the best songs are the easiest.

  29. White Speed Receiver

    @Shane Stevie G does a damn fine Douglas C. Niedermeyer impression.

    All is well, indeed.

  30. Outside Mid

    @ JT: OK, no crying in football. Have you seen this video of Woy discussing TACTICS? How does his take on 4-4-2 jive with the players he currently has at his disposal?

  31. Anonsters

    Count me among those who didn’t think this post was anything near irritating-whinging, but a thoughtful soliloquy on the state of the ‘Pool. On the other hand, also count me among those who think Liverpool supporters display a remarkable sense of entitlement (although I hasten to add that that’s not directed at JT specifically by any means).

  32. Goosie

    Once again, completely unrelated. BUT. I think that “whinging” is a FANTASTIC word. I’d never heard of it until reading this blog. Initially, I thought it was just people misspelling “whining” but then I googled it and found that it’s a legit word.

  33. Anonsters

    @Goosie: I felt the same way about “whilst.” It’s British-English, but I love it.

  34. @anon: yeah, that’s why i tried to tell JT that it wasn’t directed at him personally. however, my foot was still in my mouth at the time so it came out garbled.

    having said that…PLEASE, PLEASE BEAT MACKEMS this weekend!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>