Following our humiliating defeat, I’ve had a few words with Liverpool fan Jaimie Kanwar from Liverpool Kop, to balance the opinion of Liverpool fans we have on this blog over the past few days. Guaranteed he will not mention Munich once and his opinions may surprise you.
RoM: So, after Saturday, how do you rate your title chances?
JM: As great as the victory was, Liverpool’s title chances have not improved. This is not pessimism, it is realism, and the euphoria of an almost perfect footballing week should not obscure the fact that this year’s Premiership title was there for the taking before Liverpool spectacularly blew it. United started badly; Chelsea and Arsenal were both in transition and Liverpool were quickly flying high. Predictably though, Rafa Benitez’s ultra-cautious approach, nonsensical team selections, needless public griping and spurious personal agenda conspired to derail the club’s forward progress. In short, Benitez is the reason Liverpool are out of the title race yet again. The Premiership is still United’s to lose, and barring an absolutely catastrophic collapse, the title is regrettably heading back to Old Trafford.
RoM: Who was your man of the match (other than Vidic, obviously!)?
JM: Fernando Torres without a doubt. The Spaniard produced a masterclass of devastatingly effective forward play and was a constant threat to the best defence in the league. Special mention also to my favourite player, Sami Hyypia, who continues to produce outstanding performances at the heart of Liverpool’s defence. A true legend and a true gentleman.
RoM: Liverpool fans sarcastically sung “He’s crackin up!” back to us before the final whistle. Are they right to back him?
JK: I’m sure many fans see it as their duty to back the manager irrespective of the problems surrounding the club, and that is, of course, their prerogative. In public, many fans will put on a united front, but I know that privately, many fans – myself included – have serious doubts about Benitez’s ability to bring the title back to Anfield. In my case, I have maintained since the day Benitez was appointed that he was the wrong man for Liverpool in terms of winning the title, and thus far, I have been proved right. I do not hide the fact that I am in favour of managerial change at the end of the season. Benitez’s selfish personal agenda, constant public politicking, endless moaning in the media, appalling treatment of players (and damaging favouritism for certain players), inexplicable rotation policy and depressingly cautious approach have conspired to stunt the club’s forward progress on the pitch.
RoM: What did you think about Rafa’s ‘facts’ speech?
JK: Utterly ridiculous, self-indulgent, completely pointless, cretinously ill-timed and totally unbecoming the conduct expected of a Liverpool manager. Nothing positive came from Benitez’s rant and Liverpool’s form on the pitch suffered as a result. Furthermore, Benitez displayed his incredible naiveté by basically falling into Fergie’s mind-games trap, only he didn’t fall, he jumped in head first!
RoM: Steven Gerrard kissed his badge after he scored the penalty. How does it make you feel when you see him do that?
JK: If I felt it was genuine and heartfelt, then I would feel good about it, but considering he’s spent the best part of his Liverpool career selfishly pointing to the name on the back of his shirt when he scores, I’ll take his sincerity with a pinch of salt.
Perhaps I’m being a little harsh – I suppose the fact that Gerrard has stayed with Liverpool for another four years after the dual Chelsea debacle of 2004/2005 counts for something. His stunning lack of loyalty during those two Chelsea approaches has changed my view of him forever, hence my cynicism above. I mean, here was a 23 year old Liverpudlian, blessed with the ultimate privilege of captaining his hometown club, something millions of fans could only dream of achieving. All we heard from Gerrard was how much he loved the club and blah blah blah. Yet as soon as Chelsea flashed some cash, his head was turned, not once but TWICE. Once is understandable, if not condonable; twice is unforgivable, and makes a mockery of his apparent love for the club. Bottom line: Someone who genuinely loves the club, does not try and leave twice.
RoM: Who do you hate more – us or Everton?
JK: I don’t hate either club. I know this will be anathema to most Liverpool fans but I have a healthy respect for both Man United and Everton. Of course, this means I cannot be a proper fan. In order to be a proper fan I should be slagging off Fergie, Ferdinand et al and cursing Moyes and coming up with all sorts of offensive nicknames. For me though, such behaviour is the mark of the lowest common dominator type of fan. Friendly banter is one thing, but nasty yob-like personal attacks are pathetic. In my view, real fans respect the opposition; criticise when it is necessary, give praise where it’s due and have the ability to assess contentious issues objectively, instead of being unfairly biased toward the club they support. If Gerrard dives, fans should have the balls the admit it. Same goes for Ronaldo. If Liverpool get a penalty at Goodison that is blatantly not a penalty, the fans should admit it, not just accept it because it gives the team an advantage.
If I had to choose though, I’d say United, purely because of the never-ending succession of unlikeable players you seem to attract, i.e. the likes of Ronaldo, Rooney, Ferdinand, the Nevilles etc.
When it comes to Everton though, I have lots of time for David Moyes, who I believe is one of the best managers in the league.
RoM: What would Liverpool have to do this season for you to class it as a good one?
JK: Drop the cautious approach and ridiculous team selections that have blighted much of this season and go for broke in every game from now on. This means no more playing ‘not to lose’, no more league draws (10 already – unacceptable), and no more taking the foot off the pedal during games. Bottom line: Champions League final and second in the league, culminating in Rafa taking his tiresome roadshow to Madrid and Liverpool appointing Martin O’ Neill.
RoM: Would you like Wayne Rooney at your club (if he didn’t ‘hate’ you)?
JK: Absolutely not. Rooney is as far away from a ‘Liverpool-type player’ as it is possible to be. His attitude on the pitch is a disgrace and he is a terrible role model for youngsters hooked on football. For me, talent is not enough – a footballer’s character and attitude are just as important, which is the principal reason I have such a problem with Gerrard. Rooney is incompatible with Liverpool FC’s Shankly-led, socialist philosophy, the very thing that drew me to the club in the first place.
RoM: How do you feel about the possibility of us matching your 18 titles this season?
JK: Sick to the stomach. It should never have been allowed to happen but, regrettably, it seems like it will happen very soon. Despite this impending dark day in Liverpool’s history, I have nothing but respect for Alex Ferguson and his tenure as United boss. His aim all along has been to smash Liverpool’s dominance and he has certainly achieved that. Rivalries aside, he is quite simply the greatest club manager in world football today. Still only the 4th best manager in British history though, after Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley and Kenny Dalglish 😉
RoM: Would you seriously consider emigrating if we win all five?
JK: I won’t have to consider it because it’s never going to happen!