Liverpool Have Officially Sold Out, So Who’s Left?

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Lucas is upset at having his footballing innocence whittled away to… a very whittled thing.

As I’m writing this I’m eating a big plate of chocolate chip pancakes. Taking an already unhealthy breakfast food and adding chocolate is a uniquely American thing – like the Big Mac, or segregation. Another trait strong in Americans is the tendency to root for the underdog. Liverpool, for a variety of reasons, have always been the people’s team, a less-talented side that wins through the kind of working-class determination that resounds throughout the world. People can identify, for instance, with the exuberance of Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher throwing themselves around the pitch for the club they idolised growing up. Mistakes can be overlooked because, well, they tried their best.

Of course, Liverpool have just been purchased by Americans Georges Gillet and Tom Hicks, who honestly don’t know a damn thing about football, except that it makes money. (“Liverpool Reds”, anybody?) This is a sad, sad thing for me. Though I don’t support Liverpool, and indeed support Tottenham Hotspur, who have been rumoured to be on the verge of a buyout for a long time now, it always made me feel just a little bit better about the Premiership to know that there was a top side that wasn’t just a sham for the rich to play with. It’s hardly the first instance, of course, with Chelsea and Manchester United already under ownership from foreign businessmen, but Liverpool were holding out as the history-rich exception to the rule.

The purchase of Fernando Torres amid legions of other imports marks an end to the era in which there was something even remotely resembling a “people’s team” in England’s top flight. Liverpool weren’t my second team but it was nice to see someone with true English values doing well – Stevie and Jamie, Anfield and the Kop. But Rafa has been gradually moving the squad in the direction of the modern hodge podge of foreign talent and it’s clear he intends to take it even further with his newly minted owners.

So who are we supposed to half-heartedly root for in secret? With 34 million pounds spent already this off-season, it can’t be Spurs. With the amount of jackassery surrounding their last six months, it can’t be West Ham. And with Newcastle doing whatever it is Newcastle normally do, it can’t be them either. Everton are probably our best bet, but in picking up the English footballing spirit they’ve also taken on the mediocrity that comes with it.

What I realized writing this, though, is that there really isn’t room for a people’s team in the Premiership now. With the amount of money coming in, there really won’t be a time when you can look at a team and respect them for playing the right way in the face of financial and talent inequalities. What does the average person have to say about Ashley Cole publishing a book strictly, it seemed, to bitch about money? Or Frank “It’s not about the money” Lampard holding out over an already ridiculous amount of cash? Or, indeed, anything Kieron Dyer has done in the last five years?

I guess in the end you have to not think about it. Simply watch the game because you love it and want to be entertained, and try not to consider that maybe half the players don’t care nearly as much as you do whether they win or lose, because they’re going home to a mansion after the game, and some wannabe model will fellate them just because they’re famous? (Why oh why didn’t I train harder!?)

The sun will rise, the sun will set, and watching football will get more and more depressing.