Having been a Rafa fan for a long time, even I must admit that enough is enough! What will make or break Rafa is not the next few results, but rather the next few team sheets.
Pick an attacking side, out to win emphatically, to overpower, to push forward, to manopolise the other team, run at defences, control the (attacking) midfield and Rafa, you may just stand a chance, maybe even if the final results dont go exactly the way we want (need).
Pick another team with the mindset of defending against the opposing (usually weaker) team with the hope that Stevie G or Nando might (a big might given the despondency setting in) pop up with a one off show of world class skill that we all know they are more than capable of, and Rafa, it hurts me to say it but your as good as gone.
Liverpool, the Liverpool I grew up in the 70’s watching from the Kop didnt ‘adjust to other teams’. We didnt worry about other team selections. We were Liverpool, other teams adjusted their teams to play us, never the other way round.
We played the same week in, week out. Teams knew how Liverpool were going to play, you could even predict the team yourself, dead easy – it was the same as last week (as long as injury didnt disrupt the flow). They knew we would play 4-4-2. It wasnt rocket science, just pure football. Shankly once said “Football is a simple game based on the giving and taking of passes, of controlling the ball and of making yourself available to receive a pass. It is terribly simple.”. Nothing has changed in that, if anyone knew what they were talking about then it was He.
A Christmas plea to Carra and Stevie; now is the time when we, your supporters and fellow scousers, need you to keep your heads more than ever, to lift them high, to wear the liver bird with pride. See this if you will as a call to arms, a call to bestow the belief and pride and passion to the other players who are not fortunate enough to have been a part of the proud history of our great football club that you know about and even more importanly, understand!
We, and You, the Team, are Liverpool.
Ours is a name that still sends shudders down the spines of the top clubs and managers and coaches around Europe. Never mind ‘theatres of dreams’, ‘fortresses’, pathetic marketing cliches are not the Liverpool Way. The sign in the tunnel says it all – “THIS IS ANFIELD”. He (Shankly) also said “A lot of football success is in the mind. You must believe you are the best and then make sure that you are.” Read it and believe it.
A Christmas plea to every member of the team. You should take time out from training this week to walk alone around Anfield. As any true Red knows, when entering Anfield you can still feel the atmosphere from years past, from amazing European nights, the St Etienes, many fantastic league and cup games, the Newcastle 4-3’s, countless derby days. You can feel the passion coursing around the stadium. At times it feels like the ghosts of Liverpool Legends are willing you to achieve, commanding you to walk tall, I dont believe it would be possible to pull on that infamous red shirt and walk out on to the hallowed turf, reading THAT sign in the tunnel on the way out, without the hair standing up on the back of your neck.
Next, take in the glittering Trophy Room, then the Museum of the most successful team in Footballing history, finally sit on the Kop alone with your thoughts and dreams. Ask yourself why you are here? Try and imagine a swirling, heaving mass of some 20,000 fanatical supporters, unreservedly the best in the world, singing your name, applauding your every pass, cheering your every move, willing you on, sucking the ball in closer to the goal with every gasp for breath in between the songs and the witty and just as legendary banter from the Kop.
Thats the Liverpool Way.
If you can feel it, breathe it, sense it, believe it, then you can also achieve it. If when making your way around Anfield you cant hear the crowds that are not there, cant feel the tension that has past, cant hear the ghost like whispers of great players and managers alike, if you cant understand what wearing the liver bird on your chest really means then all I ask of is for you to very carefully fold your shirt, place it on the changing room bench that you have been lucky enough to be allowed to sit on week after week, walk out the ground and dont return. If you can feel it then soak it up, fill your mind with it, let it eat away at every part of you so that your nerves are on edge with the very thought of being a part of it. Overload your brain and your senses, feel, hear, see and smell the success til they swamp your every thought.
Thats the Liverpool Way.
Thats how I felt every time from child to man that I walked up what was in the past a dark, noisy concrete stairway at the back of the Kop, only occasionaly interspersed with shafts of light cascading through the odd plastic corrugated sheet window like some divine sign shining through a footballing Cathedral window, my whole body welled up with the expectation, the belief, the excitement, the Passion. Great Liverpool Legends didnt just walk that extra mile for Our Club, they ran and fought and battled through to be able to say they were part of it. They most definitely didnt drive the extra mile in their new Bentley.
One question to ask Yourself is if there was a level playing field acorss Europe, if there were no ridiculously high wages, no sponsorship deals, no world stage, and no fame would Your desire still be there to wear the red shirt of Liverpool? If not, then you know where to leave your shirt, please close the Shankly Gates on your way out.
This is a time for Pride to do the talking not Paypackets, for Integrity not Indecision, for Passion not Pathos, to Stand and be Counted, not to Stand and Watch.
We have all sang about it an inumarable number of times, in good times and bad – but never before has it had such meaning – we are walking through THAT storm THAT wind and THAT rain, we just need THAT golden sky, That silver song of the lark.
But most of all there is just one thing to remember, one thing that should speak to you about all of the above and more – We Are Liverpool!
Now is the time that we cannot walk alone, put yourself in the place of THAT infamous Scouser Tommy, to stand strong and proud, to feel the passion running through your veins, to feel that high, to remember great days and nights, of countless battles fought, of amazing comebacks, and of outstanding wins.
attack, Attack, ATTACK!