Debunking the Mythology of Liverpool FC

The dust has begun to settle from the Liverpool vs Chelsea match, a match that could prove to be a pivotal moment in the title race for both teams and especially for Manchester City. Liverpool are an interesting club in the Premier League for a myriad of reasons but at the same time some unsavory and frankly ridiculous assumptions and mythology has sprung up around Merseyside’s most famous football club (sorry Everton but the statistics do not lie). Here I will be addressing the most common pieces of mythology surrounding Liverpool FC and debunking the most common chest-thumping arguments that come from their fan base.

“Liverpool should be revered for their History”
It’s only appropriate that I begin here. I’ll admit that this one has a kernel of truth in it but this thread has been spun to absolutely absurd extremes. Look, there is nothing wrong with admiring a club or individuals for their achievements but there comes a point when one needs to stop using past glories as a crutch, as a pain-killer, and as a clamor for unmerited attention. Some of the most respectable players to have ever graced the Premier League (and its previous incarnations) have come to call Anfield their home-away-from-home and their trophy cabinet is impressive… But that is all history and just that. The contemporary incarnation of Liverpool is like a C grade version of the cast of The Expendables: A group of players, fans, and figures desperately clinging on to any shreds of historical glory to up-themselves. Like that movie analogy that practice gets grating very quickly when contemporary results do not come even close to matching the hype the club generates.

Your history is well-and-good but you need modern results to back it up, otherwise you just end up looking like old-timers desperately stoking the embers of a fire that has long since gone out.

“Most ‘neutral’ fans want to see Liverpool win the Premier League”
This is one that appears a lot and even more-so this season. This piece of mythology is so spectacularly wrong I cannot believe that more media outlets have not called it out on its bogus pretense. Therein lies the problem though. There are an absolutely absurd number of former Liverpool players, managers, and long-time fans who remember the glory days adoring the halls of media power and at the keyboards of columns and tabloids. Graeme Souness, Jamie Carragher, Michael Owen, Phil Thompson, Jamie Redknapp… The list could go on and on but I trust you get my point. As a current undergraduate I have been rigorously taught to scrutinize the provenance of everything I see, read, and hear – something I take with me into all walks of media and something that has not failed me since. I suggest more ‘neutral’ football fans do the same and they might find a pattern emerging: That the majority of articles who claim that the love, adoration, and respect for Liverpool is universal are in-fact written by those who continue to be associated with the club itself.

The media has given Liverpool an aura of invincibility, something that has rubbed off on a sizable portion of their fan base which has in turn made them bitter, boastful, and at times pretentious. You are not gods-gift to the Premier League as those who write the news would have you want to believe.

“Liverpool deserve to win the Premier League because of Hillsborough”
This one seriously pisses me off. Make absolutely no mistake, the events of the Hillsborough Disaster were a tectonic tragedy for English football and remain a scar that may never full heal but the way that it has been milked by the football club has been atrocious. The families of the victims were absolutely right to pursue justice for what transpired and I continue to wish them well in their endeavor but this is a matter that should have been confined to courtrooms and news bulletins to promote the cause, not something that is imposed on every club around the country. The tragedy of Hillsborough has since become a ‘victim’ card for Liverpool to play whenever they feel threatened and in a way, that card is valid – just not valid at all participating stores. Liverpool has every right to be disgruntled and to feel betrayed by the establishment not only for the disaster itself but for the events and subsequent cover-up that followed and they should follow their path to justice to its ultimate end. On the other hand, Liverpool has absolutely no right to press the matter on other clubs, the fans of other clubs, and the media to guilt-rip them into certain point of views – that is moral blackmail and coercion, not sympathy.

If a disaster made a club entitled to win awards then why have other clubs who have just as much a claim to play that card not kicked up a fuss whenever things have not gone their way for an extended period of time? Why have Manchester United, your nearest and dearest rivals, scarcely brought up the Munich Air Disaster anywhere near as much as Liverpool have brought up Hillsborough? Why have Bradford City FC not guilt-ripped the nation into remembering their club’s stadium fire on an annual basis? Above all, why on earth have Juventus not made anywhere near as much a ruckus about the injustice Liverpool fans inflicted upon them during the Heysel Disaster? To make matters even worse, Liverpool’s then-chairman John Smith attempted to shift the blame AWAY from Liverpool fans onto the fans of OTHER clubs who were not even involved. That is absolutely disgraceful.

Stop playing the victim card and stop imposing guilt-ripping practices on the rest of the football world. Justice will come to the families of the 96 in due time, the judicial service will see to that.

“That club has no history! Compared to us, they have no right to win anything!”
Do I really need to go into why this is such an idiotic argument? I do? Very well.
Unless you are a follower of the noted historian Edward Hewlett Carr you’ll agree with me that history does not follow a teleological tangent. Teleology basically implies that history has a pre-determined course and that history as we know it is heading towards a definitive end. This concept applies to Liverpool on the basis that some of their fans seem convinced that although their reign has come-and-gone nobody else deserves to rise in their place. One swift overview of world history will tell you straight away that this logic is absolutely stupid. Football clubs rise and fall on the tides of history. Leeds United fell from grace, Manchester City ascended like a phoenix from the ashes, Manchester United have encountered a spectacular dip in fortunes recently, Chelsea’s ‘Roman Empire’ is almost certainly doomed to collapse in the coming years, and once upon a time Newcastle were challenging for and winning league titles. The only club that has ever maintained some level of consistency throughout football history is actually Arsenal.

Lashing out at other clubs because they are enjoying the bounties and benefits of the position Liverpool once held themselves does not make them better than others. It makes them envious, bitter, angry and full of resentment – like that petulant child who screams at the top of his voice that the other children have better toys than his old one.

“Our fans are the best in the country!”
No, they’re not.
Heysel Disaster that got all English clubs banned from European competitions for five years.
It’s not just an historical thing either.
The stories just keep coming.
This happened only a few days ago.

Look, this is a slippery slope argument that will end up going nowhere and will end up in a whole lot of finger pointing and ad homemim attacks. Suffice to say football fans in general, no matter their allegiances, have a tendency to do stupid shit. Cut the holier-than-thou act as nobody else really fancies playing it.

“Steven Gerrard is the idol of English football! He deserves to win the Premier League!”
What..? Is this the same Steven Gerrard who tried his utmost to engineer a move to Chelsea once Roman Abramovich took over? Is this the same Steven Gerrard who ran over a youngster? Is this the same Steven Gerrard who, with a group of close friends teamed up on a DJ and put him into the local hospital? Genuinely decent footballers such as Juan Mata, Ricardo Kaka, or Andrea Pirlo exist but suffice to say Steven Gerrard is not one of them. Just because he’s not won the Premier League with Liverpool does not make him entitled to do so, this is Liverpool’s unfortunate sense of entitlement emerging again. Just because something hasn’t been doesn’t mean it should be.

“Brendan Rodgers is doing football the right way! He’s a tactical mastermind!”
Wrong again. Rodgers plays a front-heavy and relentless style of football that, unless stemmed quickly often results in a beating for his opponents. As soon as he comes up against a manager capable of preempting his moves he draws a blank and subsequently has no Plan B to save his side. Jose Mourinho absolutely humiliated the Liverpool manager the other day at Anfield by doing exactly this, he knew how Rogers was going to approach this and stayed several steps ahead of him the entire game. Media pundits and Liverpool fans crucified Chelsea for their hyper-defensive display but in reality Mourinho set his side up perfectly to completely negate Liverpool rather than play into their hands. If Liverpool fans cannot come to terms with the fact they were not only outplayed on the pitch but also out-thought then they need to acknowledge that their manager is not ‘all that’.

The fact of the matter is that Liverpool are where they are now through a perfect storm of luck, dubious refereeing decisions, the misfortune of their rivals, and their distinct lack of fixtures in comparison to their rivals. Since they were eliminated from all cup competitions at early stages and since they have no European fixtures to concern themselves with Rodgers has been able to keep his key players in pristine condition while their rivals have been beset by much bigger workloads. Liverpool’s good fortune will not persist into the next season when they find themselves on even ground with their rivals. Then we shall see what Rodgers side is really made of. Until then, Liverpool should refrain from gloating.

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