Talk about changing the narrative. Liverpool’s visit to Leeds on Monday was massive. Finishing fourth was non-negotiable until the “boom” of the European Super League hijacked the weekend. The first of seven Cup finals became a no-win scenario. Liverpool didn’t win anyway.
European Super League means more
While we are on the subject of (00)7, it was apt that Casino Royale filled TV the schedule on Sunday evening. James Bond aka Daniel Craig – a true Red in real life– was busy winning a high stakes poker tournament at the expense of a dastardly private financier. The villain had a blood-red eye. John Henry comparisons might be incoming. They won’t be complimentary.
As news leaked of a breakaway European Super League, Gary Neville tore into Liverpool with relish. Manchester United were as guilty as the rest of the big six, but Liverpool’s core moral image, already damaged by the idiots who smashed Madrid’s bus last Wednesday, just took another dive.
It appears Liverpool’s heritage has been traded in like chips from the casino table. When Covid-19 brought the football world to a standstill just over a year ago, Klopp was the voice of reason. He mused: “Football always seems the most important of the least important things, and today football and football matches really aren’t important at all.”
Quite. Football ESL-style already feels like a mega theme park. After the 1-1 draw last night, Klopp showed his hurt: “I don’t like the way a lot of people are talking about Liverpool.”
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This cuts deep. Footballers play football. Owners make decisions.
FSG trash the memory of ’77
The atmosphere has turned more toxic than February 2016 when Liverpool supporters walked out in the 77th minute of that game against Sunderland. Moneyball isn’t much fun when the dollar diminishes fans. ’77 was also the first time Old Big Ears was won. Does that mean anything to John Henry? Or was it just a stat in a book that he read?
The pride and prestige of European nights has been rendered useless; a bit of disposable history. The only future nostalgia is a Disney parade of A-list (and some B-list) teams hanging out with each other every midweek. Anfield’s special continental flavour will be turned into a cheap, but expensive, buffet.
Supporter groups rebel
Supporters groups are up in arms. Spirit of Shankly tweeted their disgust: “FSG have ignored fans in their relentless & greedy pursuit of money. Football is ours not theirs. Our football club is ours not theirs.” The Kop is set to be shorn of flags for the visit of Newcastle at Saturday lunchtime in protest.
This is the crux. The owners who follow the money are the ones that are invested in the European Super League narrative. It’s a future that alienates the “legacy” fans. Like a supergroup that started in your local but then sold their soul out to stadium arenas with big supporting bands, there’s an emptiness about this.
Even if this movement is just one rogue play in a bigger chess game, FSG has shown its hand. Daniel Craig would call it a busted flush.