Winners and losers

May 23rd, 2012

The last couple of weeks has been pretty interesting in the football world. Manchester City beat Manchester United to the English Premier title by goal difference. Chelsea won the misnamed European Champions League in a year they were least expected to. The two Edinburgh clubs contested the Scottish Cup final, while Rangers stagger from crisis to crisis. And Liverpool sacked Kenny Dalglish.

While most people seem to think the most important of these for football is Manchester City, and it could be argued that the eventual fate of Rangers could have major repercussions for the Scottish game, I feel the most significant change lies at Liverpool.

Dalglish has been a legend there for longer than most of their supporters have been alive, not only for his exceptional contributions as a player and manager on the field, and not only for his loyalty when he could have gone to any club in Europe, but even more so because he has earned the respect and love of everyone in the city for his exceptional conduct through the most traumatic and tragic times. Attending countless funerals and being the personal face of the club to bereaved families. It was a task that eventually took a great toll on him and caused him to leave football for a while.

But it’s not just that the American owners have sacked a legend – they’ve also severed the old “bootroom” connection, probably forever. It was from Shankly’s time and through Bob Paisley’s golden period the embodiment of the continuity and support that created stability and an orderly transition through managers and eras . It was that loss during the Gillett and Hicks era that many believe caused Liverpool’s decline and it seemed that Dalglish, with his old school sense of values and tradition might be able to bring it back.

Without it, and without the sense of connection to the fans that Dalglish also embodied, it seems likely that Liverpool will join the trend towards football as simply a TV commodity and business opportunity, with no loyalties amongst either players, managers or owners, and the fans taken for granted or for a financial ride. For a club and a community like Liverpool that would be a tragedy.

Entry Filed under: sport

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