When an ex-Manchester United player takes shots at Liverpool, you'd expect outrage. That some of his points are made in a measured way slightly softens things, and there is a depressing air of truth for Liverpool fans of what Gary Neville is saying about the Anfield club.
The Sky Sports pundit focuses on the latest developments in the Raheem Sterling situation in his column in the Telegraph to level criticism at Liverpool and warn them of future problems. There are three main areas that Neville is warning the Merseysiders about what they need to improve to avoid repeating the unsavoury Raheem Sterling situation that is unfolding in a very public manner:
Players Wanting To Leave
The prospect of losing Sterling will be a major concern for everybody connected to the club, but the uncomfortable truth is that this is nothing new for Liverpool.
One of the things that Neville says that Liverpool need to be concerned with is the sheer number of young players that have wanted to leave the club in the last 15 years. The likes of Michael Owen, Steve McManaman, Javier Mascherano, Xabi Alonso, Fernando Torres and Luis Suarez all decided to "leave Anfield to pursue bigger and better things elsewhere" in much the same way that Sterling is demanding now.
Sterling shouldn't be blamed for this, but Liverpool need to address the culture of being a selling club if they want to retain their talented players. Neville contrasts Liverpool to Man United and claims that only Cristanio Ronaldo moved from United when he wanted to, "rather than when Sir Alex Ferguson wanted it to happen".
There is no mention of David de Gea's future in Neville's column, but that's probably for the best.
I can’t think of any United or City players who would socialise or go for a meal in Liverpool, but I know of several Liverpool or Everton players who do exactly that in Manchester.
Neville thinks that the passionate culture of Liverpool the city could be holding the club back. It both adds undue pressure on Liverpool players given the volume of support that prevents them from being able to walk the streets of Liverpool, and prevents them from being up with the other top European clubs in terms of commericial marketing despite being one of the biggest English clubs in the world.
Liverpool has an incredibly community-minded mentality and in many ways that spirit, pride, passion and togetherness is one of the city's great strengths.
It is a wonderful old stadium, with a fantastic history and atmosphere, but when I drive towards it through the narrow streets which surround it, you just feel that it is in the wrong location and that it is another symbol of Liverpool looking to the past rather than the future.
It's that passion and history in the city that has prevented Liverpool from growing with the rest of Europe's top clubs.
Liverpool tried for years to move to a new stadium in Stanley Park, but the history and culture of Anfield and the Kop prevented them from doing so each time. Neville compares that to Arsenal's willingness to leave Highbury for the Emirates, Man City moving from Maine Road to the Etihad and with European clubs like Ajax and Bayern Munich also moving to new homes. Europe's biggest clubs have either moved or re-developed their stadiums like Barcelona, Real Madrid and Man United have done.
Liverpool are far behind the top clubs in this aspect, and are only moving to develop Anfield in the next few years.
Great football clubs like Liverpool will never go away, but they need to find a way to arrest the slide and make themselves a team that players want to play for rather than one they try to leave in search of bigger things elsewhere.