Brendan Rodgers has revealed he'd be open to a Liverpool return, in a new book ‘LOST? Liverpool FC and English Football at the Crossroads,’ by Anthony Carragher, available in selected bookstores and online. Here are some thoughts and quotes from a thoroughly enjoyable read.
‘For Country and Religion’, reads the Shankly ancestral crest. We’ve been chatting for what seems ages, reminiscing on the past, musing about the future. The coffee has run dry. Bill Shankly’s grandson, Christopher, turns to me, a proud look in his eye and reflects on the legend that was his grandfather - “I don’t think you’ll ever get somebody like him. His religion was football, from day one until the day he died’.
Shankly’s statue outside the Kop captures his triumphant pose. Arms raised, stretched out, fists clenched in glory, the great man milks the adulation from his adoring flock. Another title lifted, the dark days of Second Division wilderness now long forgotten. Shankly declared that the club ‘exists to win trophies’ and his statute acts as a permanent reminder that yes, at one-time, that was what we did, repeatedly. But this was all a long time ago, in what seems like a galaxy far, far away. Of course, old big ears was lifted for a fifth time in Istanbul, making Liverpool the fourth most successful side in European footballing history, behind Madrid, Barcelona and Milan. However, at home the ‘bread and butter’ task, as Shankly’s able student Paisley described it, of lifting the domestic title, hasn’t been achieved for 27 years and counting.
With Christmas approaching, it is fair to guess that we can flip over the number 28. The years keep ticking by, as the once mighty Reds of Liverpool wander adrift in the footballing wilderness. Lost it seems?
Former legendary Boot Room stalwart Roy Evans could never have envisioned where Liverpool are today, all these years without the crown.
No, not in a million years. I thought we would win it in my time. It was always about trying to win games. We scored a lot of goals, we made defensive mistakes too, but that was part and parcel of how we played, with the players that we had. One year we got very close, but we didn’t get over the line, but from there on you would have expected to go forward. Brendan made a good challenge, but between those times it’s never really been that close.
The biggest thing is winning. I’m a Liverpool lad. I stood on the Kop and understand the football expectations of all our supporters. It’s like Jürgen at the minute, he’s saying some great things but eventually you’ll always be judged on what you achieve and what you win.
And as Manchester City spent whatever oil dollars spewed from the Abu Dhabi wells it seemed that the task of winning was becoming harder and harder. ‘Year on year, it gets more difficult you know,' Brendan Rodgers told me, ‘It is tough, but it is a fantastic challenge and that’s the great prospect when you manage Liverpool.’ Rodgers has since proven his managerial mettle at Celtic. I ask would he return one day to Liverpool and he doesn’t hesitate with his reply ‘Yeah, 100 per cent’. When that might happen, who knows, but many would welcome his return.
The old stadium has been redeveloped and now rises high to gaze out over the Irish Sea. Terry McDermott looks to the imposing stand and reflects wistfully, 'Bob Paisley, Bill Shankly, Joe Fagan, they would all have loved it. All great people’. The man vying for greatness today is hipster German, Jurgen Klopp. A charismatic, charming firebrand. In Germany he felled the goliath Bayern. Can he slay the nouveau rich of City and Chelsea? Is it possible? These great clubs waited 44 and 50 years respectively before financial doping brought League silverware again.
Who said ‘the drugs don’t work’?
Klopp insists that Liverpool will have to win ‘the Hard Way’. He talks of things that are alien to the modern game – long term planning, patience, youth development. Echoes of the great man Shankly abound and again the tone is religious. Klopp implores us to ‘Believe’. Faith will most certainly be needed, for all the tangible evidence points to continued drought. Our American owners have ended a curse once before, back in their homeland with the Boston Red Sox. That one lasted a long 86 years. When they landed in Liverpool over seven years ago, they proclaimed proudly that ‘they came to win’, yet the trophy cabinet lies eerily bare. Millions and millions wait for the drought to end.
Are Liverpool lost? Can Klopp lead them home?