April 2012 And What It Means To Liverpool Football Club
In the life of Liverpool Football Club, this season has been one of those that will be consigned to the history books for several different reasons. We have watched as our beloved king, Kenny Dalglish has taken the brunt for things that many people believed he and he alone could have prevented. That of course is totally untrue, as sometimes things can go out of control and in a perfect world, those above him should have stepped in and put a damage limitation exercise in place. They did not, and ultimately it sent the club and the team into a backward spiral.
That backward spiral was brought to a head during last week when John Henry and Tom Werner flew into Liverpool, having decided between them that something had to be done about the failings of the team in the Premiership. A series of meetings were then set up at the Hilton Hotel and Kenny Dalglish along with Damien Comolli was asked to attend. They were, it transpired both asked to explain why the signings that had cost so much money, had performed so badly on the pitch.
Now nobody apart from those within the hierarchy at Liverpool Football Club, were aware that John and Tom were already in the country - most of us believed that they would attend the FA Cup Semi Final - let alone that a series of meetings were taking place. Meetings that if the media was to believed would take place once the current season had finished.
But take place they did and around 10.15 a.m. on Thursday morning the story broke that Damien Comolli had left the club by mutual consent - in layman's terms this means, he has been sacked but an agreement has been put into place to ensure he stays quiet and a compensation package has been agreed.
Now I have never been a fan of his - he always seemed like an imposter to me and having listened to Arsene Wenger and Harry Rednapp over the last few days, he certainly was not the man he claimed to be and it appears his C.V. contained rather a lot of fabricated statements.
Why he was sacked, everyone has said that he has taken the blame for the massive prices paid for the players since his tenure began. There are also several other factors involved which I suspect we will not know anything about for many years to come, but one that does come to mind is that during the Louis Suarez debacle, he changed his statements and also spoke to the referee, when it would have been better for him to literally have kept his mouth shut.
He is gone now thank goodness and Kenny can get on with his job without any interference. He will hopefully be able to set up his own scouting network and find the same sort of gems that Newcastle have managed to do for a portion of the funds that Damien Comolli parted with during his tenure.
Now everyone wondered if the timing of this was perhaps a little odd, but as it transpired twenty four later it was to ensure that John and Tom were back in Boston for a baseball game. A game, that quite frankly only needed one of them to be in attendance, the other could and should have been at Wembley on Saturday and at the Remembrance Service for Hillsborough victims on the Sunday.
The other thing that everyone seemed to be worried about was, if Damien's departure would affect the player's preparation for the FA Cup Semi Final. Now, if what we had known about the job specification for the Director of Football was in fact correct, there was no reason for it to do so. But like a lot of things surrounding Damien, I had my suspicions about his actual involvement around team matters and I get the feeling that the players felt intimidated by him. I may be wrong on this of course but the upturn in the form of Andy Carroll tells me I am not.
Andy as we all know has been struggling for form since his arrival from Newcastle in January 2011 and I get the feeling that he was constantly being reminded about his price tag from within the club. Whether it was Damien Comolli doing this or not, I will never know for sure, but I am pretty certain the players were made aware that something that something was afoot and that an announcement was imminent. This could well have been music to Andy's ears and with the shackles off, we saw an absolutely fantastic performance from him on the Tuesday when we went to Ewood Park.
The Andy Carroll that had a regular in the Newcastle team, suddenly appeared in the Liverpool team and being a massive critic of Andy, I have to say, I was extremely pleased by what I saw. Everyone I spoke to in the media felt the same and the next question on everyone's lips was, will his performance in the semi-final be just as good if he is picked to play.
Now that semi-final was due to take place at Wembley on the day before the anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy and the FA had asked the Hillsborough families if they would like a minutes silence to take place before kick-off. They said yes and with our opponents being Everton Football Club, everyone hoped that it would be observed without trouble.
It had also been arranged that Stevie G and Phil Neville would present two of the Hillsborough families with a bouquet of flowers on behalf of the Football Association. This was done with the dignity it deserved and with the players of both teams as well as the match officials around the centre circle, referee Howard Webb blew his whistle to signal that the one minutes silence had begun.
There is not much you can say here, except thank you to all concerned as it was observed with the upmost dignity by both sets of supporters and if someone had dropped a pin, you would have heard it.
The match itself started with the same hesitancy that always appears to be present when the Merseyside Derby's take place and for the first 20 or so minutes, the passing from either team was not as good as it should have been. This led to a mistake by Jamie Carragher and Jelavic being the prolific poacher and striker that he, picked up the ball and it was straight into the back of the net.
Now there was nothing that stand-in goalkeeper Brad Jones could have done to prevent the shot and on the day when fate and little Luca decreed his dad should be in goal, it looked as though Liverpool were on their way out of the FA Cup.
The Liverpool team that we were watching appeared to be the Liverpool team that could not give a damn and rather than try and pull one back, they just played with the ball until the half time whistle came.
Now I have no idea what Kenny said to the players during the half time team talk but within minutes it looked as though the teams had gone through a role-reversal situation. Liverpool suddenly took the game by the scruff of its neck, whilst Everton believing that they had the game in the bag, sat back and hoped that the clock would tick down quickly.
This attitude of course leads to mistakes and Syvain Distin was the first Everton player to suffer the consequences. Luis Suarez picked up one of his short passes and with had a clear run towards the goal. A run, that culminated in the ball going straight passed goalie Tim Howard, to bring Liverpool back on level terms.
This seem to fire Liverpool up and with Kenny making several changes - Jordan Henderson who seemed to have lost his way once again, appeared to be doing everything he could to get sent off - was taken off along with Stewart Downing. They were replaced by Craig Bellamy and Maxi Rodrigeux in that hope that the second goal would arrive.
It did off course and the scorer was Andy Carroll. Everton had foolishly given away a free kick and Craig Bellamy time his shot to ensure it met with Andy's head. With three minutes to go Liverpool were now in the lead and it was simply a matter of either trying to score another or to ensure that Brad was not bothered at the other end of the pitch.
Now Andy who in the second half proved again that the shackles had come off, was doing all he could to either help his team mates or indeed score another goal. It did not happen of course and the only other change fell to Maxi Rodrigeux who somehow managed to miss a fantastic goal opportunity.
It did not matter though, and Liverpool Football Club will be back to play at Anfield South in three weeks' time on the 5th May 2012.
We still have a couple of games to play before then and hopefully with the players now on a high we can look forward to reaching a better position in the league.
If not, it will not matter that Andy, Luis, Stevie and the rest of the team have found their form, because the day of the long knives may well happen once again.
Off the pitch matters also as I have said above take place in April and the most important one is the Hillsborough Memorial Service on the 15th. This year it was as always attended by the relatives of the Hillsborough Victims, Liverpool Football Clubs first team and reserves, along with manager Kenny Dalglish, his wife Marina and Assistant Manager Steve Clarke, as well as the club's supporters.
It was a wonderful service and included readings from Ian Ayre and Dirk Kuyt. The Hillsborough Anthem was sung as was You'll Never Walk Alone. Margaret Aspinall gave a wonderful speech and I hope the young man in question actually takes note of what was said as he needs to learn several lessons.
This time next year hopefully the service will be in part a celebration as the results of the Hillsborough Panel should be known. Results that will ultimately give the 96 victims, the peace and the justice that they deserve.