Liverpool is a club steeped in tradition. Tradition that it has created around a unified work ethic and through respect it has earned from the results that commitment achieved. Today’s Liverpool Football Club finds itself in waters that it is very much unfamiliar with, carefully and questionably at times, making decisions day by day that will return it to a somewhat calmer bouyancy which could present itself in different ways and over an unknown time duration.
With minimal direct press access on offer to its key staff and star players, both fans and media alike find themselves at a point in time where interpretation is more open to evaluation than it possibly ever has been before at a business and footballing level. Interpretation from the media on this level allows them to present articles that in a previous era would have only occupied a spare couple of inches of space that no one could think of anything else to stick in, these now run as headline news.
In turn this opens up the fans to their own interpretation of what is presented in front of them and the bold headline fonts get digested a little slower and with more thought as to whether any validity exists. People will sway either way and the story then opens up into further avenues of speculation, opinion and variation as to the facts. The story runs for longer and is therefore perceived as potentially more genuine in part, there is of course “no smoke without fire” as far as a scoop is concerned so we are told.
At present a Liverpool fan seems to find themselves each day on a roller coaster of interpretation to a level that Alton Towers would be happily smug of its design. Their own interpreation, swayed at times by the interpretation of others and the next breaking story. A journalists dream – a period of time where within reason, most presented articles are going to be given substantial thought despite lack of source or minimal quote, let the fans evolve them for you.
Take two quotes from Roy Hodgson concerning current MD Christian Purslow and interpretation can set alarm bells ringing and papers selling very quickly.
Quote 1 (on his brief meeting with Fernando Torres)
“Christian Purslow was also at the meeting and chatted to Fernando for a lot longer after I left but my chat with him was only about football matters.”
Quote 2 (on his opinion of LFC’s continued links with Joe Cole)
“If you want to know about transfer targets, and how things are progressing, you’ll have to ask Christian Purslow because he’s the man looking after those discussions, not me.”
At present Christian Purslow finds himself high on the wanted list with many Liverpool fans but for all the wrong reasons. A man with excpetional business skills in his chosen financial sector, impeccable even but sorely lacking a background in football at any level, is seen to be the man calling all the shots on and off the pitch at Anfield these days by many a spectator. Opinion continues to develop that he was an appointment for and involving Liverpool’s biggest debtor RBS as a bargaining chip for more time to pay and internal clarity between the two organisations. This mixed with stories of upsetting LFC fan forums (his own revenue stream), removing Istanbul victory murals at Melwood and a stand off with former manager Rafa Benitez never lend themselves to painting a picture to the fan base that the club really is within his blood.
So taking these two recent quotes involving star striker Fernando Torres, now the owner of a World Cup winners medal and the free agent that is Joe Cole, to many one of, or the leading, creative English player plying his trade today and most certainly one of the few high grade players linked with the club at present across a field of much mediocracy.
Within seconds of these articles going live in the public realm, the questions started to arrive at speed and agression from the LFC fan base as to who really is calling the shots at the club? Do all avenues point to Christian Purslow and that Roy Hodgson is purely the “Yes” man that many a fan thought the board would be quick to find, without making it too glaringly obvious? Or is Roy perhaps a little smarter than Christian gave him credit for?
Since his press conference on Day 1, Hodgson has been quick to distance himself from every financial aspect of the club (a wise choice) and leave this ball firmly in the hands of Purslow and Broughton to deal with and comment on, this was of course both predictable and more than acceptable for the new man in the door. But how far does this extend before it impacts on footballing decisions? The events that impact on the ability to win, to be competitve across the course of a season, maintain morale and confidence and deliver progression?
We know that at present the revolving door that is players in and out of Anfield is probably turning quick enough for Superman to get changed in but how alarmed should we really be? Interpretation has told us so far, with the helping hand of the voice of Chairman Martin Broughton, that commitment has been made that the funds from player sales generated will be given to Hodgson to reinvest in the squad, a simple 1+1=2, we all understand, well not quite.
Ignoring some bitter words for the moment from the winger while he admired his new but less history attached Chelsea kit, it is believed that interpretation of this simple statement is in fact not quite correct as it actually only relates to player sales that commence after the arrival of Hodgson is what is really understood. So the funds from the departure of Yossi Benayoun (earmarked to cover towards Rafa’s exit compensation and Fulhams compensation for Roy Hodgson) and also for the imminent departure of Emiliano Insua are in deed straight back to the owners and the side left with the deficiency of being £10m worth of talent down and two squad positions empty. So interpretation of the facts can only be as good as the facts presented to you.
So, ok previously this was a little misunderstanding or a lack of commuincation… wait, hang on… who else was already being negotiated over then prior to Roy’s arrival? and are we forgetting that Christian Purslow issued a statement that no player would be sold until a new manager was appointed and it would be dealt with then. So does interpretaion tell us that Purslow told the truth that no player was actually sold until Hodgson arrived (Benayoun wasn’t) or did he actually mean that no player would actually be sold until a new manager was appointed but when he does get here he wont have a say anyway? Well the sale of Insua lends itself to that model, after all Roy has stated he liked the look of Insua as a player and as a person. Confusing it maybe but it seems almost certain that his career lies outside of L4 now.
So I guess that interpretation then has to take us to a decision that either Insua has just had the worst weeks training he has ever had in his life and in front of the new manager to boot and our other left back (that we dont have!) outshone him supremely? or the decision is out of Roy’s hands and Purslow is pulling all the strings across the board? Surely not, that would be madness. Surely?
We know that Fernando Torres is looking for reassurances at the club as to its future and the level of players that will be playing there, we also know that Roy has advised Purslow has spent more time with Torres than he has himself. Plus Roy was careful to point out that he only spoke about football? So did Christian speak to him on a financial level (where Hodgson cannot operate or give the assurances the player wants)? Did Chritian have promises of old to fufil or maintain? or was he purely asking him about his Sisters wedding in Madrid?
Hodgson is certainly an experienced if not successful manager, articulate and respectful in his responses, enjoyed by the media and savvy to them. A gift for the media was certainly not part of Rafa Benitez’s makeup but he was happy to walk another line, for which he made his own admirers.
Roy could actually do far worse than to keep things as simple at Liverpool on the pitch as he does off it with the media , whether that methodology works for him long term is a work in progress with many variables at present but its certainly not the worst plan to adopt. This ethos would work well for Hodgson having a greater number of players of a higher calibre now, that he has not had the opportunity to work with at any frequency in recent years. Play football, express yourself, keep it simple, pass and move, enjoy it for what it is. An attraction that could even be a deciding factor for a player like Joe Cole, whether the bookies have their odds right remains to be seen.
Off the pitch perhaps this strategy may actually be serving him well already if you take a look at the other side of the coin. You don’t need to say much for it to have purpose and sometimes what you don’t say is far more important than what you do. A man happy to guide interpretation himself instead of letting it guide him?
At present whether you deem Hodgson to be a pawn in Purslow’s game of chess or whether on the other hand he is the black knight heading down the flank is your own choice. Right now all player sales and purchases remain with Christian’s head on the line and not his. Once that squad is finally assembled for better or for worse, he can only work with what he has and not what he doesn’t, he has no history himself at Liverpool to be compared with right now.
Liverpool fans will back their manager everytime, it is what they relentlessly do whether they agree with him week in, week out or not, the chance will certainly be provided, that comes from supporter trust stemming from a strong knowledge of the game. But any success with that squad will be credited to the manager and the players a long time before it is credited to the person that signs off the cheques, is that such a bad positon to be in?.
Positivity is available and with the right decisions Liverpool’s squad could improve dramatically, even to the point of rejuvenating excitement for its followers and raising a few eyebrows at its rivals. Dark days will continue to come and storms will break but they will pass. The interpretaion of Christian Purslow’s role at the club though and his execution of it, will rumble on for far longer yet.He may as well carry a shirt number for next season as he owes the fans a performance, he has the freedom to roam now that he so badly wanted, so lets see if the lad can actually play, if not then the transfer list it has to be.