Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The angry brigade: why are Liverpool fans perpetually annoyed?





The vilification started within minutes of Luis Suarez sinking his teeth in Branislav Ivanovic's arm. Forums and social media networks buzzed with anger, and by 7pm the villain of the peace was being hung out to dry by fans, incandescent with rage. The villain being Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, who had the temerity to point out at a press conference that, no matter how good they are, “all players are replaceable”. 

Later, Ian Ayre, the club’s Managing Director, would also feel the wrath of Scouse social media mob for his handling of the incident – though his competent performance, and action of getting Suarez to apologise within a couple of hours of the event, was in sharp contrast to the bungling that characterised the Evra affair. 
Yet Suarez, whose moment of toddler-like madness started the storm, escaped the worst of the criticism. On Twitter and the forums – and it's the forums that dictate what being a Liverpool fan is these days – some Reds criticised our mercurial Uruguayan, but others, many others, laughed it off, and directed their vitriol at the manager, Sky TV (and its “agenda”), Sky’s pundits, the press, the FA, Chelsea fans, Liverpool fans, Ivanovic. Everyone except the man who’d started the whole thing off with his bizarre impression of Rod Hull’s Emu.
To an extent, this is understandable: Suarez’s presence has far more of a bearing on Liverpool’s fortunes at the moment than Rodgers’ (or if he were to come back, Rafa Benitez’s) tactics. But this wasn’t really about matters on the field, this was about turning to what has become the default position in the red half of the Scouse nation over the last few years: anger. 
Quite simply, Liverpool fans are seemingly in a perpetual state of annoyance. There was, in the not-too-distant past, a “Liverpool way” that was defined by a devotion to the men in red, a sportsmanship that involved applauding those who’d performed well against us and an ability laugh at both ourselves and those unlucky enough not to be Liverpool supporters. 
And it wasn’t purely a myth, this Liverpool way – it was, bar the odd “welcoming committee” for away fans in the late-’70s to mid-’80s – real. Real enough that even today, one of the main accusations against Suarez is that he betrays it. Far from hating us, the individuals who make up the modern media grew up admiring Liverpool, supporting us in Europe as a surrogate for the poorly performing England team. We revelled in our status as carriers of the Scouse flame, an exotic strain of Britishness, part Beatles charm, part well-travelled merchant seaman. For the most part, others fans didn’t want to fight us when we came to town – they wanted to look at us, meet us, be us. So what happened? When did we become so sensitive? When did jibes about the lack of employment opportunities really get to us? When Man United’s fans sing about us, why does it prompt pages of outrage on our club forums? Seriously, who cares? If you went to Anfield in the mid-’80s when we were at our peak, United got it in the neck every week. And not just about their lack of success on the pitch.
A Liverpool fan recently said to me that the club’s supporters had become “addicted to negativity”, and there’s something in that. When Liverpool’s Spirit of Shankly fans organisation formed to combat the cancer that was the leveraged ownership of George Gillett and Tom Hicks, its brilliant campaign helped end the Americans’ reign at Anfield, bringing Liverpool supporters together into a cohesive unit, making them realise just how powerful they could be. And that felt good. 
On the field, the Yanks’ disastrous tenure led to the downgrading of the team and eventually the sacking of Rafa Benitez, who spotted they were shysters from the off, and called them out on it. When he was sacked the fans protested once more, as was their right, and again made them feel part of something, a rarity in modern football. 
Since then, we Liverpudlians have revelled in our anger, felt it out, got used to its power. When the Suarez/Evra affair took off we defended our man to the hilt, researching the street slang of Uruguay to – in our minds at least – prove his innocence, forgetting our reaction was based purely on the fact he played for Liverpool (the same, of course, could have been said about United).
Yet when Suarez then went on to embarrass the club’s greatest ever player, Kenny Dalglish, by refusing to shake Evra’s hand in the return match, we blamed Sky, Man United, anyone – except the player himself. “He’s like a Scouser,” we told ourselves. “He’s one of us,” – forgetting the long-lasting effect he had on a man who really did sacrifice everything for Liverpool FC.
We fumed and fumed, and even abused Liverpudlian journalists for expressing honestly-held opinions that didn’t follow the standard Kopite response. But when people who love the club are “cunts”, what does that leave us to say about vermin like Kelvin McKenzie? 
Since then we’ve fumed about the press conferences of Brendan Rodgers, the refereeing of Howard Webb, the supposed Manchester bias of the Football Association, the songs of Sunderland and Man United, and Evra’s joke with the plastic arm at Old Trafford when United won the league. When we got knocked out of the FA Cup there was a weird sense of satisfaction because it meant we weren’t following the now-hated “traditional” priorities. Scouse not English at the expense of everything else. Supporting a football club is supposed to be fun. It gives a predominantly young audience the chance to travel, bond and witness moments of the highest drama in the flesh. But at the moment, following Liverpool feels like entering a perilous den of mistrust where the slightest word out of place can result in castigation. 
Today, with a team that’s languishing just above mid-table, the voices demanding the removal of Brendan Rodgers are getting stronger, as Liverpudlians realise once again that they hold the career of another man in their hands. The fact that with our matchday revenue dwarfed by that of the Top Four, there isn’t a manager alive who could make Liverpool a title-challenging force again is irrelevant. The knives are out. And to those who wield them, it feels good. 

36 comments:

  1. Fine article - I am one of those who is actually guilty of many of the accusations being leveled in this piece. Rather less so do I rage at our own supporters.

    The Evra arm thing was very comedic how a city that prides itself, indeed sells its soul on its humor; yet could not howl laughing at such a clearly funny image. It purely shows where we have landed in our faux rage at almost anything that may slightly blight us.

    It would seem Liverpool fans can no longer laugh at themselves anymore, we have to choose what types of football fans we want to be and lose our arrogance as we find ourselves no longer seated at the top table.

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    1. Thanks for the support, Chris – good points. At least we're not Everton. Yet.

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    2. Anonymous6:53 pm

      And there, after some semi laudable self awareness and with one click of a key pad on your first reply your mask slips.

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    3. Anonymous8:38 pm

      Yes you're below us in the league! Joking aside that was a really good article. It takes a red to say these things, if anyone else does, it's seen as an attack.

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  2. Anonymous7:34 pm

    You use an extreme example to "argue" against another extreme example.

    Of course fans are "angry" when trying to formulate arguments with a 140 characters or in the comments sections of various newspapers.

    I've read the same anger amongst Chelsea fans and even City fans when they feel they are under attack.

    Social media doesn't lend itself to common sense, just as populist journalism doesn't.

    It seems that maybe you are calling for more common sense, but - somewhat ironically - you lack it in your own argument.

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    1. How do I lack common sense? My view is perfectly valid.

      It's not just on social media, it's in the ground, on the forums everywhere.

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  3. Anonymous7:42 pm

    Erm if we are angry its because of the media the police the Fa and most other fans around the country for the 23yrs of lies and abuse about hillsbrough you retard

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    1. You call me a retard, then bring up Hillsborough. Were you there?

      I was – I spent April 15, 1989 on the Leppings Lane terrace watching the dead being carried out around me, while my mum and dad became ever more certain I'd died as they watched it unfold on telly. That day taught me that the ins and outs of everyday football is not worth getting angry about.

      To associate that day with whether you think a South American millionaire is innocent of a misdemeanour on the field shows how warped our priorities have become. You then go on about the "media" and the "FA". Have a look around the forums of other clubs – they all think the media and FA hate them too. Ask Evertonians if they think the media have got it in for us. I reckon the huge amount of ex-reds and LFC fans who work in the media might be persuade them otherwise.

      The whole point of the piece was to show that anger amongst Liverpool fans over trivial stuff like Suarez, the FA, the media was damaging us a fanbase. You calling a Hillsborough survivor like me a "retard" after I commented on it proves my point.

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  4. Anonymous7:49 pm

    Bits of this I agree with. There is a lot of negativity. Although I havent heard anyone even mention wanting Rodgers out, and don't know where you've got it from.

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    1. I've heard mates talk about it, and people on forums/social media etc.

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  5. Anonymous7:52 pm

    I really hope this article is read by the masses. There is a worrying theme running through alll things LFC currently. The negativity has to shift to positivity, because all we have is the fan base and an ever diminishing aura of The Spion Kop (big games only). At last a sense of reality. Really good piece.

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  6. I suspect it's all to do with a feeling of betrayal and impotence that began with Gillett and Hicks and the sacking of Rafa and continues because of the high handed behaviour of the absentee landlords. The fans now feel alienated, and that their club has been stolen from them by Americans who see it only as a financial investment. It might be about money to the owners, but it represents a lifetime investment of loyalty for the fans.

    Yes, Rafa did some odd things, but some terrific things, too. He was a hard act to follow. Hodgson didn't understand the job and should never have been hired. When Kenny came back he was given an almost impossible job of fixing things quickly with a mountain of money.

    Carroll obviously cost far too much, but Suarez was a brilliant buy, and, much as Rodgers has criticised them, Henderson and Downing are now mainstays of the team - chosen ahead of his own purchases.

    The Suarez and Evra episode was appallingly handled by the club, but the Press was hysterical. As John Barnes said it made a mountain out of a molehill. Was Suarez a prat in saying what he did? Of course. But did he fully realise quite how offensive the word "negrito" might be on an English football field? Probably not. If he had, it's unlikely he would have so readily owned up to it. Was he a double prat for not shaking Evra's hand. Absolutely, although it must be said that Evra milked the situation.

    Which brings us to Rodgers. Kenny made mistakes last season, but he brought a cup, Wembley and wins against the top teams. Loyal to his players, to the point of naive career suicide over Suarez, he is also dour on TV and doesn't suffer fools gladly.

    At the beginning of the season Rodgers talked a good match, and every word he said seemed to imply criticism of his predecessor. He had a philosophy, he told the fans. But he's struggled to win matches.

    So little by little the fans feel the world has turned against them. It hasn't, but emotions are involved here. They feel cheated by two administrations of owners, both of whom promised them a new ground, and neither of whom knew anything about football, and let down by Hodgson and Rodgers. Now supporting a mid-table team, their bitterness is taking the form of lashing out at anyone who criticises it - however justifiable that may sometimes be.

    If the owners were clever they would immediately re-employ Dalglish as head of football, and find a role for Carragher - in other words bring the club back to the fans and heal the wounds.

    And if the results continue to go against Rodgers next season, there's always that Spanish chap waiting on the Wirral at Christmas.

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    1. Great post, Ray – the scars of Rafa's sacking still show in our support. I felt that some Reds wanted us to fail to prove they were right over RB. Even though I was one of his biggest fans, I still wanted to us to do well with RH at the helm. Shame he was useless.

      Liverpool are in a state of transition and it looks like there's no way out. But times change, and things move on. All great empires go through a state of flux, this is ours.

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    2. Anonymous2:11 pm

      For the ten billionth time, Suarez never used the word 'negrito'. That was mis-reporting. Look up the report - the word was 'negro'. 'Negrito' was never uttered by anyone involved.

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    3. That's true, Anon – worth pointing out. If I remember, and what I allude to in the piece, is his defence was that it means "mate" in his culture.

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    4. Anonymous8:42 pm

      For the ten billionth time why is anyone alluding to somebodies race, what ever they said, when shouting at them on a football pitch. Why is this action being defended by any sane person.

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  7. Thats what 23 yrs of league failure while your most detested rivals streak off into the distance will do to you... I'm starting to think we'll never get back to the top as we always seem to get the mix wrong, be it on the playing,coaching or board level. We can't even make the transfer market work for us properly. All that frustration year after year just builds & builds to what you see now. 2 yrs ago while i was sitting on the kop i witnessed the guy ( in his 50's-60's) 2 rows in front of me turn round and hit the young guy in front of me for daring to voice his opinion that the team weren't playing well enough in losing 1-0 to WBA.Last year at the cup final scuffles and fights broke out in the LFC end when we were 2-0 down. Add the post-istanbul fan into the mix and thata why LFC fans are now constantly angry....

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    1. All true, and all depressing. You're right about the Cup final, it was horrible, whereas the semi against the Ev was boss.

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  8. There is enough to be frustrated about. When you add to the lack of progress and wins, the subtle and seemingly anti-LFC position of the FA, it gets your blood boiling. Notice how swiftly Suarez was dispatched with the quickness in "Suarez vs Evra"? Compare that with how the same issue was handled in the case of John Terry. FA didn't feel the need to pursue the Jermaine Defoe biting of Mascherano any further since a yellow card had been issued. Watch the same FA stack double digit ban on Suarez....... Or, are we to start accusing the FA of Xenophobia?

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    1. I think that it's easy to say the FA or the press are against us. The problem with that is that all football fans think that it's their club the media/press/FA hate. Have a look on United, Chelsea and Ev boards and see if they think we get a rough deal.

      However, you're right in the Suarez/Eva thing. It was just one man's word agains another. My view: LFC should have apologised, said that the word was not meant as an insult (though only LS knows whether it was or not) and stuck a four-match ban on him. Anyway, we've learnt from that – but Luis needs to sort that side of him out.

      Anyway, cheers for commenting – check out the magazine I edit and co-publish, Umbrella. Go to www.umbrellamagazine.co.uk to see every issue.

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    2. Anonymous2:12 pm

      It was not 'one man's word against another'. Suarez ADMITTED IT FOR FUCK'S SAKE.

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  9. There is enough to be frustrated about. When you add to the lack of progress and wins, the subtle and seemingly anti-LFC position of the FA, it gets your blood boiling. Notice how swiftly Suarez was dispatched with the quickness in "Suarez vs Evra"? Compare that with how the same issue was handled in the case of John Terry. Also, the FA didn't feel the need to pursue the Jermaine Defoe biting of Mascherano any further since a yellow card had been issued. Nw Watch the same FA stack double digit ban on Suarez....... Or, are we to start accusing the FA of Xenophobia?

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  10. Scouse by birth, now living in Corsica, every single word of this could be (and has been) written about Bastia too. Apart from that fact that we really are punished unfairly.

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    1. Bastia sounds great… will look it up. Are there any Corsican wools? If so, I'm in.

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  11. There's everything in Corsica ... you just have to know where to look or who to ask :-)

    Video of the first Bastia match I went to: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xqsxrh_l2-2011-12-bastia-2-1-nantes-a-festa-in-furiani_sport#.UXeu6KCcH3w (got tempted back after laying a wreath in the name of LFC the week before for the 20th anniversary of the Furiani disaster).

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    1. Looks great, that – another one for the holiday list.

      Going to research them now. Ta.

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    2. If you need any advice on where to stay or what have you, do ask! BTW, http://www.lana-corsa.com/ seems to need an English wool expert to translate its site ...

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  12. Anonymous11:13 am

    It started going pear shape from 1991!!!!! David Moores era.... When you look at Michael Knighton who tried to takeover Utd with loads of money making vision ideas,they then put the infrastructure in place. liverpool left behind again!!! It's too easy to blame the Yanks!!! Now it's just a snowball effect! Not sure what has to happen to change things...

    From

    Man of few words

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    1. Let's fuck it off and get into cricket. Much more mellow.

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  13. Anonymous1:29 pm

    Love cricket and Rugby union Tony! First love is footie though! Ex warrington lad now living in Cape Town... Very mellowed until I watch the Redmen haha, Anybody looking for info or accommodation check out my cottages www.beachcombercottages.co.za

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  14. Agree with a lot of your points but believe you're sensationalising it. We have much more moany fans now than ever. This Suarez argument is boring, he's a cock, he deserves to be banned, he'd be lucky to play again for us, we move on, there's the few Liverpool supporters that argue it. Man Utd have a higher percentage of twats than any other team. We're after having the worst few years in memorable history, performance wise, and are going through a huge amount of transition, that plus the recession, everyone is moanier. Moores used to uphold Liverpool's tradition of sticking with a manager, after Houllier we changed that, now fans areallowed to do a Chelsea and believe a manager brings instant success.
    There will always be fans who are 'c*nts' luckily we still have fewer than United.

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  15. Anonymous10:50 pm

    I think it goes deeper than Hicks and Gillett yes they had a role to play but this bitterness started I believe after Hillsborough, when the papers were writing the vile comments and it ripped the soul and joy of being part of a fantastic club, the club and the clubs fans were under an unjustified attack being blamed for the Hillsborough disaster and the fact it has gone on for 25 years and were still waiting even now for justice to happen who can blame the fans for feeling bitter and let down by the everyone. When anger is allowed to fester this is the end result and maybe when we finally get justice the fans will be able to have closure and we can move on and so can the club. Dont get me wrong a lot of people have been fantastic but some people have been vile and disgusting and still to this day blame the fans for that day, and it hurt not just Liverpool fc and their fans it hurt the city of Liverpool. Everton have been amazing and I have so much respect for the everton chairman Bill Kenwright, whilst the fa have apologized and the prime minister has what have they actually done since to help find justice? from there the club went down hill Dalglish left then probably one of the worst managers ever Souness took over the only good thing he did was sign rob jones. What hurts even more about not winnning the title is were not even close to challenging it we can see the club falling backwards and it hurts, there is a despair within the camp because we cannot see an end to this, Hodgson was woeful Evan could not defend Houllier started off well but it died a slow death same with Rafa great start great but just died in the end. When Rodgers came in first off I liked what he was saying especially the 6 second rule but that lasted one game, I personally want a manager who comes out and says I want to win the title and has a steely focus on finishing first, we so need a strong manager personally I dont think rodgers is the man he is out of his depth imo. JFT96

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    1. Great comment, Anon. I suppose my point on Rodgers is that I don't believe LFC can challenge for the title until the ground is extended. We simply cannot afford to compete with Arsenal, Chelsea, Man United and City.

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  16. I agree with most of the article (some of the best stuff i have read this week) and i even admit that i am one of those lashing out fans but with good reason.

    But i have i missed something ? WHO IS NOT BEHIND BRENDAN RODGERS ?
    I haven't seen anything on rawk or twitter or a Liverpool match for that matter that fans want Rodgers out.

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    1. At the match and in the alehouse, there's plenty of grumbles. Online, he get's the dog's abuse from some. I think it's a relic of Rafa's departure – the club's never been the same since.

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  17. *oops commented with the wrong profile.

    Its a shame about Rodgers. With all things considered his done ok in his first season as manager and deserves the full backing of Liverpool fans just like Benitez got.

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