Author Topic: #SHANKLY100 Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961  (Read 18070 times)

Offline Paul Tomkins

  • Believer
  • ******
  • Posts: 9,475
#SHANKLY100 Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« on: January 23, 2005, 02:02:39 PM »
It may surprise some people to be reminded of this, but Bill Shankly's first two seasons at Liverpool (then a sleeping giant) were not an outrageous success; he steadied a sinking ship that was taking in great gulps of water in the middle of the old Second Division, but he didn't have that patched-up ship sailing hard and fast for a good couple of years. What the fuck was he playing at?

Clearly 末 after two consecutive third-placed finishes 末 he was taking the club nowhere. I mean, this was the Second Division! Not even the top league, for Chrissakes! Why should Liverpool fans have been expected to put up with such mediocrity?

Thank God the internet and radio phone-ins didn't exist back then, eh? Poor performances were witnessed by the 50-odd thousand present; not millions across the globe. Liverpool fans grew to become famed for their patience. Much has changed in the game since then, but it's proof that even the very greatest managers can't wave a magic wand, and cure all the team's ills.

In fact, it seems to be many of the older fans (who perhaps should know better) who are losing patience quickest with Rafael Benitez; in no small part down to the glory days that arrived later in Shankly's reign, and carried on for another twenty-plus years. Now, as when Shanks arrived, we are a sleeping giant; only this time we're slumbering in fifth place in the top division. Not such a disaster, given we have no rightful place at the summit; we have to earn it all over again. Earning things in life takes time; unless you prefer to steal.

The natives and non-natives are restless, and on the warpath. Is it me, or are fans getting less and less patient by the season? There seems to be residue of hostility for Gerard Houllier carried over into the reign of Rafael Benitez. The frustration of last year is spilling over into this.

It's easy to rant and moan and vent spleen (and we all need to do it from time to time), but it's harder to think rationally and actually look at what's going on.

It's not about accepting mediocrity, or admitting that 4th place is the ultimate goal 末 as no Liverpool fan wants to think of eternally chasing 4th in the table. It's about accepting that the route to greatness has no short cuts. Rome wasn't built in a day; Milton Keynes most probably was.

I am not saying Benitez is the new Shankly; no-one can replicate that great, great man, and such comparisons help no-one. But Benitez 末 only seven months ago 末 reproduced Shankly's greatest season: winning a major league title at the same time as the Uefa Cup. I am merely saying that even the greats take time to get everything the way they want it.

It's hard to think of a new manager at a struggling big club (and struggling is the key) who has made an instant impact. Any suggestions? Alex Ferguson (I cannot bring myself to use the 'Sir') had a torrid first six years (and even in their Treble season of 1999, he remarked how they didn't have one serious injury 末 a nod to the good luck they had on that front; how can someone with serious injuries into double-figures be expected to succeed first time out?). Gerard Houllier's first two seasons were pretty dire; only the third saw us hit the heights of the Treble; his problem was that he didn't have the flexibility to build  a long-term plan on top of that, but it was still a very special season by recent standards.

Arsene Wenger made next-to-no difference in his first season at Highbury; in his second he won the league. I doubt Benitez will achieve that next year, but I do expect us to be in a far better position.

Despite this grim week, we're still in two cups (with one foot placed 末 albeit tentatively, at the time of writing 末 in a final), and the teams around us in the league have (thankfully) been equally poor of late. There's still plenty left to fight for.


Tough on new boys

It's similarly difficult for the new players. Benitez is right to bring to mind the case of Robert Pires; Thierry Henry is often mentioned, too, as someone who struggled in the first half of his debut English season. (Henry clicked into gear in the winter, while Pires took until Easter to first impress).

While players like Nunez, Josemi and Luis Garcia may (obviously) never come close to emulating those two great Arsenal players, that is not the point of the comparison; the point is that even Footballers of the Year (in the making, as they then were) 末 experienced internationals who had played in World Cup and European Championship-winning sides 末 could look like absolute turkeys when they first arrived here. It doesn't mean every hapless overseas player will turn into some graceful goalscoring machine or creative midfielder (El Hadji Diouf and Bruno Cheyrou certainly never); it does mean that if even the best can struggle, than merely decent or very good players cannot be exempted from the same problems. If Arsenal had quickly written-off Henry and Pires, they'd never have won the double in 2002.

Getting back to Liverpool, last season Steve Finnan was widely criticized for being rather useless. He spoke English, had grown up in English football's lower divisions and had spent the last handful of years in the Premiership 末 he was even voted into the Team of the Season while at Fulham, as the best right back in the country. This season, he seems settled into his new environment, and while not quite making the right-back spot his own, he had (until injury) shown what a fine player he was. So if he can struggle in his first season at Liverpool, with all he had going for him, why can't others be excused struggling? It takes time to settle; if you don't allow players that time, you run the risk of disposing of people too quickly, and merely bringing in another new face who'll go through the same tribulations. Some players settle quickly (such as Alonso). Others don't.

I'll admit I was crying out for Josemi to be dropped before injury struck. He was proving a liability. That didn't mean I felt he wasn't good enough for Liverpool; just that he wasn't playing well enough for Liverpool. If you ditched every player who struggled initially, you'd be buying and selling 30 players a season, trying them out like an American teenage princess in a Rodeo Drive store, trying on everything in the shop before going mental with Daddy's credit card. As a manager you have to balance out the act of showing faith in the player (as you know his capabilities, and trust him if you've purchased him) or dropping him and potentially destroying his confidence. It's a tough call.

With Josemi it had reached the point where the lad needed withdrawing, to save the team, and to save himself. But is he a bad player? Is he a bad signing? It's too early to tell. Same with Nunez 末 anything he does well is ignored, every mistake highlighted.

Luis Garcia has joined Josemi in starting brightly before fading miserably, and is becoming the object of much ire. He is clearly a fine talent, and his early displays were scintillating; you could see why we paid the money 末 he showed how good he can be; but flair players are confidence players, and his has dipped dramatically. He works hard, he makes a surprising amount of tackles, but he is easily shrugged off the ball, and his incessant clever flicks have turned into infuriating concessions of possession.

He is not one to be written off; but perhaps a spell on the sidelines is due (maybe he would have already had one, if Benitez had a full squad to choose from). His future may lie as the different option on the bench, to be unleashed if other methods are failing. He has shown he can score goals, but he is an off-the-cuff maverick who has lost his way. Whatever happens, he has already scored as many league goals as El Hadji Diouf and Bruno Cheyrou managed between them in their entire Liverpool careers.


Transition   

This is a transitional season. There is no other way to look at it. (If this isn't a transitional season, someone please tell me what is? 末 could much more have changed at the club in the last six months?). I have maintained after every great win under Benitez's direction that there would be further dips into despondency. Consistency is always the hardest thing to find in an inconsistent situation. Ups and downs; that's how first seasons tend to go.

I feel a lot of sympathy with Rafa Benitez at this moment in time 末 things just aren't going his way, and those who expected Valencia-like success within months are starting to get disillusioned (the calls for his head have already been heard). He's made mistakes, and admitted as much himself. It's a group learning process, for all involved. The manager is having such a torrid time with injuries, and now nearly all of his signings are being questioned; some understandably (if a little impatiently); others rather unfairly.

Look at what has backfired for Rafa this week. The team that was sent out against Burnley let him down; there were four full internationals in our team, and a whole host of U21 internationals who we've been hearing about 'breaking through' for the last few years. The same kind of line-up had done brilliantly at Millwall and Tottenham, and on paper this was an easier game. One totally inexcusable mistake cost us the game (as a manager, how do you legislate for such stupidity?), and while we were very poor, the players 末 including a selection of young Brits, who should have been hungry for the chance 末 failed to show either the requisite amount of fight or composure. It was not disrespecting the cup, but it was not the club's finest hour in the competition, either.

It was tough on the fans who travelled, but everyone knew what kind of team we'd put out; and so many fans love the chance to see the kids play 末 after all, there are constant cries to give them a chance, as "they can't do any worse, right?". The same people who hailed Benitez for (unlike the previous manager) giving the kids a proper chance and the responsibility to show their talents and develop their games, were now castigating the decision to play them (as they were seen as the weakest part of a weak side).

These kids were then duly excused (despite only Raven and Whitbread having decent games), and the older pros blamed; if that's the case, fair enough, but it can't also be Benitez's fault in terms of fielding a weakened team when his senior players were the ones who let him down the most. The senior players had also been poor against Watford 末 sometimes a manager hopes hungry kids will use these kind of occasions to bust a gut and prove their worth. After all, shouldn't the Academy lads understand what the FA Cup is all about, and be the kind of players you'd want in an up-and-under blood-and-guts cup tie? As ever, too many people were wise only after the event.

There's too much going against Benitez at the moment to be too critical of him. He is fighting to make his own luck, but not really succeeding on that score.

To make matters worse, Hyypia is now injured (how severely I'm not sure, but it didn't look good), and Gerrard is playing like Salif Diao on account of a nagging groin injury.

Then there are the latest new boys.

Morientes and Pellegrino arrived in good condition from training, but lacking match fitness. So what do you do, if further training is not really going to sharpen them up? You can but play them 末 ideally they'd have got a game at Burnley, but neither was eligible. So they have to play in league games; alas, it's proving a tough baptism for both players. Patience is thin on the ground on Merseyside, after the previous two seasons of mediocrity.

I can understand the reasons behind adding both players to the side; neither the defence or attack was broken (so why fix them?), but at the same time, they weren't looking totally inspiring either. Since both players have come in, things have suddenly appeared to be broken.

Did Rafa need to throw Morientes in straight away?

Well, everyone agreed we needed a new striker; opinions differed on just who exactly, but I don't recall anyone saying we didn't need anyone. We had been scoring a decent amount of goals, but not killing teams off, and the attacking part of our game needed an experienced fulcrum, to act as the steadying influence on Baros' improvisational skills. In the circumstances, playing Morientes as soon as he signed made perfect sense.

So far the Spaniard has looked rather shell-shocked, as many newcomers to English football initially tend to. He has displayed some fine touches, but the pace of the game will take some getting used to. You cannot do that from the stands, can you? He's also struggling to understand or second-guess what Milan Baros is going to do; whoever plays alongside the Czech must be driven mad, not having a clue when he's going to pass 末 if at all. That's all part of Milan's effectiveness 末 taking people on and getting shots in. Opposition defences can't read him, but nor can his teammates. If anyone can gel with Baros, it's Morientes; but the Spaniard may struggle for a good few games yet.
   
His introduction has been further impaired by the fact he's yet to start with either Kewell or Nunez 末 two oft-derided players, but two players who stay wide and look to deliver crosses. Instead of playing it out wide, we've grown narrow (in Houllier-esque fashion) and hit long balls from the back, as if Emile Heskey was back in the side; suddenly we've stopped creating chances, and by going to two up front (what nearly everyone was crying out for), are getting out-numbered in midfield. Morientes is better attacking crosses, not playing like Niall Quinn. I felt we'd resist the urge for those kind of passes given the football Rafa wants us to play, but it seems the players have taken that easy Route (One) to often. These kind of mistakes will not continue, as Benitez is too clever to let them.
   
Morientes' arrival has resulted in confusion in our attacking play; but better to get him in now and get used to the situation, than to avoid dealing with our attacking shortcomings, and merely crossing our fingers and hoping for the best.
   
Then there's Pellegrino, whose introduction has reeked havoc to our defensive stability. Did Rafa need to make changes at the back?
   
Carra and Sami had been doing extremely well, having struck up a fine understanding, but we've kept very few clean sheets; tending to concede one (often costly) goal every game. It made sense to add another proven winner to the backline, and some valuable experience 末 but of course this has caused some uncertainty, and a lack of pace.
   
It's very rare that you change the backline and it reap instant dividends; is it teething problems, or a sign of something more serious? The problem is that Pellegrino may already have done irreversible damage to his reputation, and lost the faith of the fans. The Argentine had a nightmare at Southampton, but Warnock 末 who all the fans wanted to see given a game, as a local and a gritty Brit 末 was equally culpable on both goals. But Pellegrino copped all the blame.
   
Unfortunately, too many people will have now made their mind up about Pellegrino, and closed off any chance of changing their opinion; just as they did with Nunez after his inauspicious start, before he began to show real signs of improvement. Nunez, Morientes and Pellegrino all have suffered from making their debuts in English football when the season was already well under way, and when they were lacking match practice. It's only made their task that much harder.
   
What Rafa is doing now will serve us well next season; but fans tend to care only about this week. I said at the start of the season that we'd probably have a more successful season this time out if we kept Gerard Houllier 末 it would still be disappointing, of course, but we could be mediocre due to the consistency of keeping the same staff in place; stagnating, but gaining (a few) benefits from sticking with a management team familiar with both its own players and the opposition personnel and tactics. The trouble with that is that next season would end up the same, or worse; whereas after a year of bedding in, Benitez could be expected to reverse the downtrend and set his La Liga-winning ideas into practice. It's taking time for things to fall into place, but that was always likely to be the way. It really was. If you didn't believe that, more fool you.

It gets worse for Rafa.
   
He has had the misfortune of Everton having their best start of a season for donkey's years. (The wheels are now falling off, thankfully, regarding the race for fourth place; but we need to get our own house in order first). Being below Everton only increases the pressure on a Liverpool manager, and shortens the patience of the fans. If Everton were 19th now, things would be much rosier, wouldn't they?

Also, Jose Mourinho has made an amazing start at Chelsea, but comparisons with Benitez's task are not fair: the Portuguese has spent lots of money, in addition to inheriting a team on a dramatic upward curve, and with great players like Cech and Robben already signed by the outgoing manager. It's easier to jump into the cockpit of a purring Formula One car and speed away than it is to jump-start a classic Rolls Royce that's been in the garage gathering rust due to neglect.


Excuses, excuses

It's not about making excuses for Benitez; it's about appreciating the extenuating circumstances. Ideally Morientes would have joined pre-season, when Owen left (ideally Owen would have stayed). Ideally we wouldn't have suffered so many serious injuries. Benitez hasn't inherited an ideal world.

My general (although scientifically-inexact) rule of thumb to supporting a manager is that in his first year, he gets my full unequivocal trust (unless he goes totally insane and sells the entire squad and replaces them with a collection of small woodland mammals). The second season is when I expect to see consistent signs of improvement, and the third season is when I expect the club to be at its strongest. After that third year, if things stop improving and start regressing, you need to worry; and two poor years, consecutively, at that point, is unacceptable.
   
It's the same with players; the first year can be treacherous; the second is often the one when it's make-or-break.
   
To draw this installment to a close, let me give you an example of where jumping to conclusions can let you down; it did in my case.
   
Zonal marking was the first major concern of the Benitez era; I have to say I was far from happy with it at the start, and made my dislike of the new system at set pieces known. We didn't appear to know what we're doing. I looked on, understanding the theory, but the practice was just not the way things are done over here. It would never work. Why cause all these extra problems so unnecessarily? I am happy to admit I was 末 on current evidence 末 very wrong.
   
When was the last goal we conceded from a corner or a (crossed) free-kick? There was the Joe Cole goal at Anfield, where an unmarked man headed back and a shot outside the area deflected flukily in; not exactly the fault of zonal marking, but the first header could have been cut out. But before that? Joe Cole's goal at Stamford Bridge fully three months earlier?
   
I've just seen the goals from a Premiership game  末 Norwich vs Boro 末 where both teams were man-marking at set pieces, and witnessed five goals come from a failure to man-mark (four corners, one free-kick). I watched each thinking "we'd have had a man in that zone, ready to deal with the danger". Did anyone mention man-marking as the fault of such shoddy defending?
   
Zonal marking is a good example of how something can take time to get right, but once got right, it can lead to great benefits. No doubt we'll concede another goal from a corner (no system is completely infallible) and zonal marking will be lambasted by all and sundry.
   
This whole season is going to be like zonal marking: making radical changes that may backfire at first, as the changes bed-in and take shape 末 leading to mistakes and misunderstandings 末 but from then on, it should be a steady improvement. That's how football works.
   
It's tough, but fans need to take a step back. Difficult, when you're still paying for tickets and travelling the country. But if you wanted quick and easy fixes, then there couldn't have been much of a problem to start with, could there? 

As ever, to register a (purely provisional) interest in purchasing my book on LFC when it is published this summer, please email tomkins_lfcbook@btinternet.com. Many thanks to the hundreds to have so far expressed an interest.


ゥ Paul Tomkins 2005
« Last Edit: July 18, 2013, 04:17:27 PM by MichaelA »

Offline hide5seek

  • RAWK Supporter
  • Believer
  • ******
  • Posts: 9,551
  • We all live in THE 5 EUROPEAN CUPS
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2005, 02:47:12 PM »
This post should be put on every Liverpool football site, absolutely fantastic :wave :wave :wave

Offline hooded claw

  • Foiled by the Anthill Mob
  • RAWK Supporter
  • Believer
  • ******
  • Posts: 23,413
    • The Plate Licked Clean
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2005, 02:48:03 PM »
Another tersely-worded slapdash five minute job Paul?  ;)
I pity the postmen delivering the book when it's published- there are some posties who'll be putting in sick claims for massive hernias!  ;D

Thanks- I needed that as an antidote to the negativity and understandable frustration we've all been feeling. Specifically, the problem of the defence; Rafa is obviously loath to play Henchoz (for whatever reasons, ignoring the rumours, he must have some justification for them) and so has been forced into playing Pellegrino.
It's easy to underestimate the length of time the inter-league transition takes; I remember Jaap Stam looking like a right floundering muppet on his United debut.  Instead of criticising Rafa for playing him when he has been found wanting for pace and distribution, it's balancing to read the reminder that he will only get up to speed by playing and acclimatising to the Premiership.  It's an object lesson in the thinness of the squad we have, that he has to be thrown in immediately rather than spend a few eeeks in the reserves or coming on when the game's already won.
But your basic point, that Shanks woould have fallen foul of the McSoccer mentality, the 'give me success now and we won't wait' approach? Spot on.


Offline zigackly

  • ...is Cassius Clay
  • RAWK Supporter
  • Believer
  • ******
  • Posts: 9,433
  • You're ferpectly right.
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2005, 02:48:38 PM »
Another great read, particularly poignant after the doom and gloom of the last week or so.
A liar will not be believed, even when he speaks the truth.

Offline coltmanaman

  • Kopite
  • *****
  • Posts: 747
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2005, 02:52:36 PM »
Can't add much to that apart from another excellent piece Paul.

Offline SeanPenn

  • Anny Roader
  • ****
  • Posts: 381
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2005, 03:07:03 PM »
Superbly written again!

Thank you Paul. I needed that. Thank you.
-"Matthias, Son of Deuteronomy of Gath"
-"Should I say yes?"
-"Yes"
-"Yes"

Offline crontonred

  • Main Stander
  • ***
  • Posts: 143
  • A cup of tea would have been nice.
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2005, 03:07:07 PM »
Paul, your support for Rafa is admirable and giving the manager a couple of years is probably the least every Liverpool fan should do.

Do you not think though that the club's current problems could be reversed with an injection of cash to buy players and that the major barrier to achieving this is Moores. We are crying out for investment and egos at a senior level seem to be getting in the way. Is it right that Moores should be looking for a Lotto like pay out to relinquish his control of the club, given that his personal investment is somewhere in the region of 3 to 4 million pounds?


Offline zigackly

  • ...is Cassius Clay
  • RAWK Supporter
  • Believer
  • ******
  • Posts: 9,433
  • You're ferpectly right.
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2005, 03:11:22 PM »
Paul, your support for Rafa is admirable and giving the manager a couple of years is probably the least every Liverpool fan should do.

Do you not think though that the club's current problems could be reversed with an injection of cash to buy players and that the major barrier to achieving this is Moores. We are crying out for investment and egos at a senior level seem to be getting in the way. Is it right that Moores should be looking for a Lotto like pay out to relinquish his control of the club, given that his personal investment is somewhere in the region of 3 to 4 million pounds?

Moores will be listening to Hawkpoint and the rest of the board. He's not working in isolation. Plenty of other threads on this subject though, would suggest you have a trawl through the LFC forum.
A liar will not be believed, even when he speaks the truth.

Offline sirKennyDaggers

  • Believer
  • ******
  • Posts: 2,282
  • We all Live in a Red and White Kop
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2005, 03:15:33 PM »
This post should be put on every Liverpool football site, absolutely fantastic :wave :wave :wave
Beat me to it.
Marvellous assessment. 
And spot on.

Offline docker

  • Believer
  • ******
  • Posts: 1,563
  • We all Live in a Red and White Kop
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2005, 03:31:48 PM »
nice read paul, but and its a big but, shanks wasnt a foreigner, shanks knew the market he was in, and he knew the players he wanted for the job, rafa so far has proved he doesnt, a, know the market, b, the players for the job. you see, everyone knows the names of the best players, its the no-names were a good manager who knows his job thrive, unless you have talent coming through, which lets be honest rafa hasnt. you buy, he buys from the market he knows best ie spain, but be honest, only one is capable at the moment, and two have come for the big pay day.
block 107

Offline Paul Tomkins

  • Believer
  • ******
  • Posts: 9,475
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2005, 03:38:23 PM »
nice read paul, but and its a big but, shanks wasnt a foreigner, shanks knew the market he was in, and he knew the players he wanted for the job


Shanks also wasn't a proven manager; had he won anything before coming to Liverpool? No.

Swings and roundabouts, my friend.

Everything you've said could be applied to Arsene Wenger; under your thinking they should have appointed Howard Wilkinson in 1996.

As for Rafa not knowing the players he wants, lord strewth, let's wait to see most of them, eh? I am sure not every player Shanks signed was a revelation within his first few games.

Offline 18-4

  • Kemlynite
  • **
  • Posts: 32
  • Our history is our destiny
    • LFC Stats
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2005, 03:50:06 PM »
A good read and whilst I agree that it's pointless to get on the manager's back (not least because we can't afford another 」10m to change manager) the tone of the article is rather too apologetic for my liking.

We don't have the luxury of allowing a new manager a year or so to find their feet. Our long-term future is linked to Champions League qualification EVERY season.

No 4th spot means another big loss for the Club (although off-set by Stevie G's inevitable departure), the inability to attract top players and a further slide down the table.  We are where Leeds were 4 seasons ago except that I don't recall them or any other top 4 side conceeding that they were unable to compete in 4 competitions a season.

It's no good blaming poor form on having half a team of players that have never played in the Premiership and need time to adjust.   Noone insisted that the manager only buy players without Premiership experience.  ManUre have managed to sign Premiership players - Smith, Saha and Mr. Potatoe Head - and they have made an impact in their first season.  Two of these players were well within our means as was Anelka, Wright-Philips or Ledley King - in fact, we could probably have signed all of the last 3 for less than the 」14.5 paid for Cisse.   I'm not getting at Cisse, he might turn out to be a sensation in the Premiership but the fact is that we took a huge gamble on an expensive 'import' when we might have been better off -injury or not - putting our eggs into a number of baskets.

Don't get me wrong, I think Benitez is a good manager despite almost every statistic - points, league position, etc - currently saying otherwise.  I just hope that the Chairman has made it clear to him that the Club can't afford another year of standing still or going backwards.
 

Offline Paul Tomkins

  • Believer
  • ******
  • Posts: 9,475
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2005, 04:05:33 PM »
It's no good blaming poor form on having half a team of players that have never played in the Premiership and need time to adjust. Noone insisted that the manager only buy players without Premiership experience.


What about the example of Finnan? What about Kewell - he was bought from the Premiership? Did they have great first seasons? Not entirely. And what about Alonso? Surely he has been great? It works both ways - and you're missing that point. When Morientes starts banging the goals in (as he surely will), what then?

You can talk all you want about Wright-Phillips and King - and you're talking about pie-in-the-sky. I am talking about fact, not fiction; what HAS happened, not what might have happened had we done it all differently. Anyone can do that.

But SWP might have struggled under the pressure of a huge price tag; Saha might have broken his leg just like Cisse did, or gone on a 30-game barren spell (who knows?). Also don't forget, Rafa tried to buy the brilliant Jonathan Woodgate (look at Newcastle without him last season and this). But we were quoted 」14m for an injury prone player who won't kick a ball this season.

Feel free to stick to 'what might have been' and I'll try to stick to dealing with facts.


Don't get me wrong, I think Benitez is a good manager despite almost every statistic - points, league position, etc - currently saying otherwise.

If you want to judge his leadership by statistics, you can't ignore that he's still reigning Spanish and Uefa Cup champion.

Those statistics tell you he IS a good manager. He just needs time.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2005, 04:10:05 PM by Paul Tomkins »

Offline theolonius

  • Boys Pen
  • *
  • Posts: 0
  • We all Live in a Red and White Kop
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2005, 04:12:07 PM »
I searched high and low to find a decent LFC forum and finally I have found it. Paul I have been a fan of your work for just over a year, keep up the good work, your articles are such a breath of fresh air compared to the myopic reporting in both the tabloids and broadsheets. A little biased but you wouldn't be a liverpool supporter if you weren't  :D,

The most significant thing about your articles is that it give all true and mentally balanced Lfc fans hope that there will be light at the end of the tunnel

Excellent point about the zonal marking, it has quietly slipped of the lawerenson and Hansen agenda on MOTD and, The one thing i really like about benitez is his lack of moaning I have not once heard him complain about the number of injuries to key personnel throughout this season, I KNOW EVERY TEAM HAS THEM BUT WE HAVE BEEN PARTICULARLY UNFORTUNATE THIS SEASON. Cisse, Gerrard for 2 months, Alonso , kewell, Kirkland, finnan, smicer, allright i know Vlad isn't everyone favorite but seeing the improvement Riise,Finan, Biscan and djimi (prior to burnley in both cases) why not Vlad as well.
Slightly off the point but that was one of the problems with GH, players would come to liverpool have a fantastic season and then regress as players i.e. dudek and riise, Rafa has the ability to improve players throughout their career.

As much as burnley's defeat hurt , I have to be honest and say the thought of no Champions lg football next season hurts even more and would aid the tabloids in their eternal quest to pry SG from our arms.

Finally on SG I am so sick of the press constantly linking him with other clubs as soon as we have a poor result, I truly hope he gives rafa another season, but I have my doubts!!

Offline Hinesy

  • RAWK Editor. Giving it BAFTA痴. 57'sy. Caramel log dealer and comma chamaeleon
  • RAWK Staff.
  • Believer
  • ******
  • Posts: 20,307
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2005, 04:34:38 PM »
lovely read Paul

My only gripe is that Rafa set himself up to be shot down this week with his comments post Burnley.

Saying that 4th place was more important ( and it is for him, to have the money to fund his team next year), but only to lose in that fashion reflected badly on a couple of choices for me. Namely Warnock and Riise that way round. Having Didi/Sami/Pelle, all slow men defending the box when we've been caught on the break by them last season....

Otherwise once again I agree with your excellent thread - but like you I am a long termer...
Yep.

Offline the BIG fella

  • Kopite
  • *****
  • Posts: 648
  • What We Achieve in Life, Echoes in Eternity
    • The RUSH Band - Manchester Live Wedding and Corporate Band UK
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #15 on: January 23, 2005, 04:41:55 PM »
Nice one Paul, good read and clever perspective used.
It made me feel better as well.  ;D

On Pellegrino - David Weir across the park at some three years older than Pellegrino has made a miraculous recovery of form to star in a stubborn and tight Everton side. Although I'm unhappy at the moment, the lad does look like he's got the class or he's had it - and shall shocked is a word which best describes how he probably feels at the moment. His distribuition yesterday flitted from woeful to top drawer as he tried to find tight balls through to the strikers, which often got intercepted.

Also, have you noticed that we seemed to be bypassing the midfield two because of this - do you think this is a change in strategy, because as a result, we worryingly seem to be giving the ball away too oftern.
To book bands and live music visit
http://www.bandtube.co.uk

Equally if you need an amazing band for any Wedding or Event
The RUSH Band
http://www.therushband.co.uk
Listen - https://soundcloud.com/therushband

Offline Paul Tomkins

  • Believer
  • ******
  • Posts: 9,475
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #16 on: January 23, 2005, 04:45:55 PM »
Cheers, Mr Hines! I think Rafa was being honest. These days, being in the CL not only gets you a lot of money, but it's what attracts the best players. They are not interested in the FA Cup anymore - it's nice, but not a reason to be at a club to a player. Of course he wanted to win the game, but he didn't want to lose key players to injury with so many other games coming up. He gambled, and it didn't pay off; but we could still have lost with a stronger team, as well as losing players to injury, etc.

Cheers, theolonius. I can't be totally objective - I do have a vested interest, as a fan!  ;D


Btw, just watching Newcastle currently losing at Highbury. Souness is a British manager, and all Newcastle's recent signings (Kluivert excepted) have been from British football. They've spent big in recent years, and look at where it's got them... But even Souness will need time to get things going how he wants.

Offline fish, barrel, etc.

  • How long for them sausages? Maggie May's Mythical Turkish Delight. RAWK's Expert Sausage Monster! Oakley Cannonier is fucking boss. Likes blowing his friends? Who nose?!
  • RAWK Supporter
  • Believer
  • ******
  • Posts: 8,225
  • This looks like a nice spot...
    • Flat Back Four
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #17 on: January 23, 2005, 04:59:27 PM »
the problem with articles such as this one, Paul, is that your analysis deprives posters of their self-appointed right to come up with pithy solutions to problems both imagined and real... ;D

if everyone read this, why, the no-Spanish, no-foreign, only-English, only-Scouse, Houllier-better-than-Rafa, we-have-no-heart-or-passion, club-is-not-the-way-it-used-to-be, Championship-Manager, Morgan-in Moores-out, no OOT's (have i missed any of the major groupings) folk would all have nothing to do with their internet time.

it's a lengthy, well-argued and well-crafted piece, but it's theme is a beautifully simple one.

Quote
Earning things in life takes time; unless you prefer to steal.

I wonder how many posts on RAWK could be found by searching that refer to "7 months having been enough time" for Rafa to "fix" things?

a good read, and an important presentation of a reasoned analysis and prospects for the future.

kudos...
Since haste quite Schorsch, but Liverpool are genuine fight pigs...

Offline Col

  • Shaves his tongue and shares makeup tips. May be a little camp.
  • RAWK Supporter
  • Believer
  • ******
  • Posts: 18,273
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #18 on: January 23, 2005, 05:03:52 PM »
Paul, you should work for the PR office lad ;)

Good piece
I don't have to sell my soul... he's already in me.

Offline Thommo's Beak

  • Main Stander
  • ***
  • Posts: 244
  • Fly the flag my Red Army!
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #19 on: January 23, 2005, 05:13:20 PM »
Good post mate, it's what I've been waiting for all weekend as there is far too much nonesense about LFC being said at the moment.

As for zonal-marking, I've been saying to people for ages now; when was the last time 'commentators' mentioned it in relation to Liverpool? That bandwagon has well and truly left town and people need to remember this, things need time.

 :)
A spectre is haunting Europe - the spectre of Liverpool

Offline Paul Tomkins

  • Believer
  • ******
  • Posts: 9,475
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #20 on: January 23, 2005, 05:20:03 PM »
Cheers, lads.


"the no-Spanish, no-foreign, only-English, only-Scouse, Houllier-better-than-Rafa, we-have-no-heart-or-passion, club-is-not-the-way-it-used-to-be, Championship-Manager, Morgan-in Moores-out, no OOT's"

;D



Offline flying red

  • Kopite
  • *****
  • Posts: 607
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #21 on: January 23, 2005, 05:21:40 PM »
Good post Paul.  I agree with your argument about the need for patience.

I too noticed how the foreign players took more flak after the Burnley match when, IMO, the spotlight should have been on why the likes of John Welsh were so poor.  I remember a few seasons ago when Stevie G had obviously broken through bigtime that Welshy was being touted as "the next Steven Gerrard."  Likewise, if Warnock had tracked his man on Saturday, Pellegrino wouldn't have been caught on the ball.  Xenophobia is alive and well! :-)

In support of your argument about players needing time to settle in, not too far across Stanley Park our bitter rivals have a new 」6m+ striker who hasn't set the world alight yet - it's noticeable that they've started to struggle since changing their system to accommodate their personnel changes.

What I'm finding frustrating is that, as we know we're short on quality in the squad, we're being outplayed by sides whose players wouldn't even get a trial at Melwood.  How come Burnley and Southampton's honest toilers outbattled and outplayed us?

It's pretty obvious to all now that the way to match and beat us is to pack the midfield and play a pressing game.  Our Spanish imports are getting caught in possession, where they would be allowed time and space in La Liga.  We've got to be better on the ball, retain possession better and work the ball patiently.  Surely that can't be beyond our current squad?

FR

Offline fish, barrel, etc.

  • How long for them sausages? Maggie May's Mythical Turkish Delight. RAWK's Expert Sausage Monster! Oakley Cannonier is fucking boss. Likes blowing his friends? Who nose?!
  • RAWK Supporter
  • Believer
  • ******
  • Posts: 8,225
  • This looks like a nice spot...
    • Flat Back Four
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #22 on: January 23, 2005, 05:26:44 PM »
Cheers, lads.


"the no-Spanish, no-foreign, only-English, only-Scouse, Houllier-better-than-Rafa, we-have-no-heart-or-passion, club-is-not-the-way-it-used-to-be, Championship-Manager, Morgan-in Moores-out, no OOT's"

;D


i think i nicked a tiny bit of your Christmas/Boxing Day sarcasm supply before typing that... ;)

naughty...

Since haste quite Schorsch, but Liverpool are genuine fight pigs...

Offline Alf

  • RAWK Supporter
  • Believer
  • ******
  • Posts: 15,802
  • Leader of Alf Quaida & the Scaliban
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #23 on: January 23, 2005, 06:04:25 PM »
Good article Paul.

Offline jimmy_case

  • Boys Pen
  • *
  • Posts: 10
  • We all Live in a Red and White Kop
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #24 on: January 23, 2005, 06:48:46 PM »
That was a long one!

But well worth the read. I've flitted about a few forums today, thinking and reading about yesterday's match and one thing that kind of horrified me in the way is how some fans have jumped on, for example, Pellegrino already, some making up slag-off names for him or just spewing vitriolic spite ridiculously out of context to the facts of his actual peformance. Its like a load of Man Utd fans were masquarading as Liverpool fans on our forums or something - I can't see how the player himself deserves such a lack of respect for being thrown right into the deep end after a season on the sidelines. 

As you well state, the players that have been derided by many short-tempered, impatient fans, have all been pretty much up against it from the off due to starting mid-season, nevermind the fact that they are only here a very short time. I really wish fans would be more considerate of the cess-pit of misfortune our club has had to wade through this season - take a deep breath, sing out their support of our great club, and play the part of the twelfth man that will hopefully keep us in contention for a Champ League place, whoever (or from wherever) is out playing in the red jersey.

And good luck to Pellegrino - he looks like a colosous of a man, I'm sure he will put in some strong performances before the season is out. 

Offline Dermot

  • Rent this renovated space for just 」3.99/month. Price includes neon backlighting. Best league in the world ョ
  • RAWK Supporter
  • Believer
  • ******
  • Posts: 6,772
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #25 on: January 23, 2005, 06:57:33 PM »
Getting back to Liverpool, last season Steve Finnan was widely criticized for being rather useless. He spoke English (indeed, was English, whatever his international record suggests), and had spent the last handful of years in the Premiership

Steve Finnan was born in Limerick which is in Ireland and he has Irish parents. How does that make him english?
The cheek of that mon, deserves a shlap

Offline JMarsh

  • Wise beyond his years
  • Believer
  • ******
  • Posts: 1,652
  • Girls Aloud fan.
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #26 on: January 23, 2005, 06:59:56 PM »
Superb stuff, a lesson to all

Offline LFC Red

  • Boys Pen
  • *
  • Posts: 12
  • We all Live in a Red and White Kop
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #27 on: January 23, 2005, 07:08:27 PM »
Briliant piece of work, the article is a breath of fresh air.

Offline Paul Tomkins

  • Believer
  • ******
  • Posts: 9,475
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #28 on: January 23, 2005, 07:38:29 PM »
Steve Finnan was born in Limerick which is in Ireland and he has Irish parents. How does that make him english?


Apologies if that's the case. Sounds like a Londoner to me, and (foolishly!) assumed he was another Englishman playing for Ireland.

The point, of course, was that he grew up in English football. (Notts County then Fulham). And speaks English. But I'll happily stand corrected on his being born in Ireland.

Offline Farman

  • Heading off for a fruit based orgy
  • RAWK Scribe
  • Believer
  • ******
  • Posts: 4,121
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #29 on: January 23, 2005, 07:59:10 PM »
Paul, your contribution to RAWK continues to be immense. Knowing how time-consuming writing pieces like that is I do sometimes wonder when you get the time to eat and sleep...

As soon as the new management team came in I felt that the only way to look at this season is as one of transition. At the start of the season I'd have happily settle for fourth as a minimum priority. Of course it takes time for an entirely new management and new players to settle and to understand the way the club - and the game in general in this country - is. The bad luck he's had so far only reinforces that.

That doesn't mean that, in general, I think fourth is good enough for LFC. Of course it isn't. But at the moment, both Chelsea and Manchester United, in particular, have stronger squads and considerably more spending power. They want to improve and progress, as we do. I'm happy for that process to take time, and if and when it does people should be in no doubt that Rafa's beaten the odds to do it. He's done it elsewhere though.

I think the model for us (in terms of on-the-pitch progress) should be Arsenal and the excellent Wenger. As clubs, in the grand scheme of things, we're in similar positions right now. Wenger, who took over Arsenal in a similar position to where we are now, has shown how it can be done, though of course he didn't have the insanely free-spending Chelsea to deal with back then.


PS I'm still laughing about the small woodland mammals.
The eternal silence of these infinite spaces frightens me

Offline Paul Tomkins

  • Believer
  • ******
  • Posts: 9,475
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #30 on: January 23, 2005, 08:19:34 PM »
Paul, your contribution to RAWK continues to be immense. Knowing how time-consuming writing pieces like that is I do sometimes wonder when you get the time to eat and sleep...


Many thanks - always nice coming from someone who takes time, effort and thought to do a similar thing.   :wave


I think the model for us (in terms of on-the-pitch progress) should be Arsenal and the excellent Wenger. As clubs, in the grand scheme of things, we're in similar positions right now. Wenger, who took over Arsenal in a similar position to where we are now, has shown how it can be done, though of course he didn't have the insanely free-spending Chelsea to deal with back then.


This is right. We need to match them in every aspect, including spending cleverly and developing/buying-in youth (as we did with Carson). They're also moving to a new stadium, and so both clubs are in similar situations; Chelsea are in their own situation.

Offline jimmy_case

  • Boys Pen
  • *
  • Posts: 10
  • We all Live in a Red and White Kop
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #31 on: January 23, 2005, 08:51:17 PM »
...Thank God the internet and radio phone-ins didn't exist back then, eh? Poor performances were witnessed by the 50-odd thousand present; not millions across the globe. Liverpool fans grew to become famed for their patience. Much has changed in the game since then, but it's proof that even the very greatest managers can't wave a magic wand, and cure all the team's ills.
interest...

The other thing, on that point, is, I think, the "Championship Manager" phemenon where fans sit down to a PC, buy this and that player, win everything in their first year, and - whether consciously or not - just think that "this stuff isn't that hard"...

As one of the biggest selling games around, and bought disproportionately, I'm sure, by Football Fans, its guaranteed to have an effect on fans psychology... Thus, when things aren't going well for your team, just change the players immediately! :)

Offline Holiara

  • All hail the lovely lady who brings gifts of Baileys to the weary traveller
  • RAWK Supporter
  • Kopite
  • ******
  • Posts: 919
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #32 on: January 23, 2005, 09:05:32 PM »
Good work Paul, thanks! It worked, even better as it wasn't only comforting but getting things back into perspective :wave

Quote
It's about accepting that the route to greatness has no short cuts. Rome wasn't built in a day; Milton Keynes most probably was.

 ;D

As for players struggling when brought in in midseason just have a look at Arsenal again. Reyes joined Arsenal one year ago and the rest of the season was a mare for him. He couldn't cope with the PL right away.

Quote
Look at what has backfired for Rafa this week. The team that was sent out against Burnley let him down;... ... while we were very poor, the players 末 including a selection of young Brits, who should have been hungry for the chance 末 failed to show either the requisite amount of fight or composure. It was not disrespecting the cup, but it was not the club's finest hour in the competition, either.

That is a real problem. I thought the team was fine, because the kids were playing and I expected them to be thrilled and hungry for it. There was no hunger and not enough determination. This negative phenomenon carried on into the Southampton game and cost us dearly. We had 70 minutes to come back after going behind, but it didn't work out and we didn't even look like trying. Losing is bad enough, but if you do at least fight against it until the last minute.

Paul, you should work for the PR office lad ;)

Good piece

 ;D :wellin







Offline Andy.

  • Kopite
  • *****
  • Posts: 752
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #33 on: January 23, 2005, 09:25:51 PM »
Crackin' read, that, Paul. As always.
Nice one.

Offline Mighty_Red

  • Rojo Poderoso!
  • RAWK Supporter
  • Believer
  • ******
  • Posts: 11,862
  • All hail the King...
    • Join the fight - SOS
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #34 on: January 23, 2005, 09:40:25 PM »

Many thanks - always nice coming from someone who takes time, effort and thought to do a similar thing. :wave

This is right. We need to match them in every aspect, including spending cleverly and developing/buying-in youth (as we did with Carson). They're also moving to a new stadium, and so both clubs are in similar situations; Chelsea are in their own situation.

Big point with Nunez, Garcia, Pellgrino and Mori is that it is currently January in England, something they have not been used to on a regular basis. This makes it worse for Pellegrino and Mori cos they havent even had time adjuste to English football (let alone the lack of match fitness)

Give them time and until next season. In the meantime i really wanna see some hunger from the boys, they showed it before and during xmas, why not now?
Some clubs were always destined for greatness...

Offline wet echo

  • trapped paper puncher in need of a work out
  • Kopite
  • *****
  • Posts: 672
  • We all Live in a Red and White Kop
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #35 on: January 23, 2005, 10:07:07 PM »
as always Paul first class,this is something i have been banging on for ages,give the man the players TIME..
if he is getting pressure of the pundits and general media,(like talksport)who on one hand don't class us as a top three side but are forever jumping all over us for the slightest thing,then the last thing this man needs is his supporters ripping into him as well,we should be there to hold out for him and his family and let them know how much we respect him and if mistakes are to be made then make them now as you have time...

Offline Pooch

  • Not a fan of Michael Winner
  • RAWK Supporter
  • Believer
  • ******
  • Posts: 1,382
  • Dont keep calling me Shirley!
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #36 on: January 23, 2005, 10:51:32 PM »
top drawer Paul mate.  Brilliant article as always. Agree with all of it except the Milton Keynes bit !  ;D


Every single beat is red !

Offline fudge

  • RAWK Gaylord
  • RAWK Supporter
  • Believer
  • ******
  • Posts: 15,760
  • "I'm a swine, its my nature"
    • Fat man dancing
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #37 on: January 23, 2005, 11:21:14 PM »
The natives and non-natives are restless, and on the warpath. Is it me, or are fans getting less and less patient by the season? There seems to be residue of hostility for Gerard Houllier carried over into the reign of Rafael Benitez. The frustration of last year is spilling over into this.

ゥ Paul Tomkins 2005
Great read , this point particularly hit home for me, definitely thought this is true. I've been trying to figure out whether this has affected attendances even now under Rafa
Rubber Dinghy Rapids....

Offline Dermot

  • Rent this renovated space for just 」3.99/month. Price includes neon backlighting. Best league in the world ョ
  • RAWK Supporter
  • Believer
  • ******
  • Posts: 6,772
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #38 on: January 23, 2005, 11:34:03 PM »

Apologies if that's the case. Sounds like a Londoner to me, and (foolishly!) assumed he was another Englishman playing for Ireland.

The point, of course, was that he grew up in English football. (Notts County then Fulham). And speaks English. But I'll happily stand corrected on his being born in Ireland.

No Probs Paul.


Great read as always
The cheek of that mon, deserves a shlap

Offline RonnieB

  • Main Stander
  • ***
  • Posts: 64
  • We all Live in a Red and White Kop
Re: Why Shankly should have been sacked in 1961
« Reply #39 on: January 23, 2005, 11:52:14 PM »
Fantastic read, good to see some sense been written in these difficult times.