by Tony Attwood
One might have expected that after Liverpool’s win of the league last season they might have been able to bask in the glory of that campaign for a while. After all they did have a very good run especially as by late February this year their league record showed played 27, won 26, drawn 1. A record every team would have loved to have had; they were utterly idolised by the media.
But now the media is not so impressed. The idols have fallen from their pedestal. Why is that?
First we must notice that the idolisation did involve ignoring some games. No one really bothers too much about the FL Trophy games in which the under 21s play the first teams of three League One and Two sides, although my pals and I like to go and see who’s up and coming. Arsenal get through the mini-league most years, so seeing results showing Liverpool lose to Oldham and Accrington (the latter by 5-2) and draw with Fleetwood, and thus exit in the group stage was interesting, although the media chose to ignore it.
Defeats to Villa (again 5-2) in the league cup, and Atletico Madrid twice in the Champs League, followed by the unexpected 3-0 away defeat to Watford, and losing to Chelsea in the FA Cup, gave us a slight smile – they were winning the league by a mile and a half, but at least not getting a double or an unbeaten season. Of course, by the time those potential attainments were off the table, we were in dire trouble ourselves with a second managerial change after years of stability, but few outside of our fan base were really interested in Arsenal by then, apart from those who wanted to gloat.
From that 18 February defeat in Madrid onward, Liverpool played 15 games in the Premier League and the Champions League winning seven, losing six. Arsenal’s last 15 games saw us win 10 and lose four. They won the League (of course the much bigger prize), we won the FA Cup. Few seemed to notice their decline in form. Or our cup win!
When a large number of Liverpool fans gathered to celebrate their title win, there was some condemnation (we were after all in lockdown) but little comment on the fact reported by the BBC that the local council were reduced to asking people who had friends in the crowds to text them to ask them to come home. Normally the authorities losing control of the city is news, but not in Liverpool it seemed. So it was forgotten, rather like the seven wins in 15. After all, they’d won the League for the first time in 30 years, and this virus thing, well, Boris was in charge and we were going to have a world beating track and trace system, so it was all right. Wasn’t it?
Then later, much later, when John Henry and Joel Glazer proposed Project Big Picture, Liverpool weren’t particularly condemned for it. Indeed some reported that Henry was saying his PBP had been a victory as the PL agreed to discuss the idea further in the now promised strategic review! Few disagreed in the media.
As we’ve noted before, the Glazer family’s “B” shares in Manchester United give them the right to a mega annual dividend no matter whether the club makes a profit or not. And so the club does need a profit to keep that family in the lifestyle of opulence and luxury which they demand. Thus perhaps it was not surprising that the plan said nothing about the biggest problem in football finance: clubs gambling on their future.
The current structure encourages Championship clubs to get into mega debt as they attempt to buy their way into the Premier League by spending more and more on players. And it encourages Premier League club owners to spend as much as they wish on players. And I write that knowing full well that Arsenal spent more than any other club in the last window.