Loss of innocence

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By Delroy Alexander

What a wonderful world sport is

Just as news that the once mighty Liverpool FC had parted company with their iconic talisman Kenny Dalglish, his often beleaguered predecessor in the job, Roy Hodgson, was announcing his first England line up.

How life can play tricks on one.

King Kenny dethroned in a wickedly unceremonious way at what is rapidly becoming a footballing disaster. I know it shows my naivety but is there no loyalty left in football. Having reached the FA Cup Final and won the Carling Cup, King Kenny was eased out the door because of “poor league” form.

Granted, as a Liverpool supporter, we expect to finish higher. But eight in this Premier League isn’t all that bad. Chelsea, the sixth place team is in the final of the Champions League.

And, we were playing the best football we’ve produced in more than two decades. I suppose the adage, winning isn’t just everything, it’s the only thing-rings true in King Kenny’s case. Especially in the face of owners who clearly know little about the game. He deserved more time and better treatment.

King Kenny’s more human frailties showed through earlier in the season, when his stout and overtly  defensive posturing on behalf of our racist talisman Luis Suarez was, in short, ridiculous. His subsequent climb down and apology lacked sincerity.

As a lifelong fan of the greatest club in England I was ashamed then and I am ashamed now. Not because we made mistakes. To err is human. But because of the way we handled them. Shame on the club and its management and that includes, King Kenny.

Liverpool always stood for more than just winning. Winning with ethics, professionalism and style. The club that majestically broke the glass ceiling for black football stars with the purchase of John Barnes from Watford in June 1987 is in crisis. Wow, that hurts. I’ve been in denial for so long, it hurts to accept the obvious.

A crisis not so much in the footballing sense. King Kenny had a handle on that. A crisis of conscience.

I mean, forcing  King Kenny out the door after a relatively brief and successful spell in charge again is akin to dethroning the Queen. Other’s may want to sit on the hot seat but they will forever be haunted by the spectre of what we used to stand for and what we have become. Just another club looking to cash in on gullible fans like me. Who, however embarrassed, can’t help but love our team.

The crisis of conscience that men like King Kenny now find themselves engulfed in is all part of a modern game where billionaires and business moguls switch allegiance like chips on a roulette table.

The crisis spreads so deep that even honourable men like King Kenny and his affable if unexciting predecessor Roy Hodgson appear unable or unwilling to stand up for what is right and not just what is expedient.

While King Kenny has found himself caught up in a world he is powerless to control, the new England manager has disappointed illustrating just how little conscience the game now has for moral imperatives.

In his first squad, Mr. Hodgson has chosen to leave out the country’s best central defender in Rio Ferdinand, due to “footballing reasons”.  Instead, he has chosen to stick with John Terry, who will soon go on trial for racially abusing Rio’s younger brother Anton Ferdinand.

Do these folk have no conscience. Obviously not. For a start, Rio may have lost a step of pace but he is still and always will be an infinitely better defender than John Terry. The same Terry, who was recently terrorised by Andy Carroll and the very same Liverpool team that Dalglish no longer manages. The same Terry who won’t be available for the Champions League final because he was stupidly sent off during the Barcelona semi-final. And, the same Terry who was stripped by the FA because of his pending racism court case.

The perception of such pragmatism in the face of logic and conscience leaves me wondering what one has to do in football circles to lose out on principle. Maybe sleep with a team mates wife….oops no, that’s all in the game these days isn’t it.

The simple truth is that race, questions of colour and conscience take second, third or possibly fourth place even to winning.

The beautiful game doesn’t look half so rosy as it used to from Anfield or Wembley anymore. Win or lose, I think I’ll probably take more interest during the Euro’s this summer  to see how many times a commentator mentions that Terry is due in court on charges of racially abusing the brother of “former England captain” Rio Ferdinand.

Seeking Solutions

Liverpool at least has not been immune to the criticism. The club has in fact, secretly hired Amaechi Performance Systems to consult and work with the local community on matters of tolerance.

For those that don’t know, the company is the brain child of John Amaechi.

Yes, that John Amaechi. The behavioural psychologist, social entrepreneur and best-selling author. More importantly, he is a director for the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) Diversity Board that sets strategy for procurement, recruitment and standards for every employee, supplier and volunteer for the 2012 Olympic games effort.

Bet you didn’t think I was going say that did you.

Mr. Amaechi is a truly unique person, who I was honoured to meet recently at a Football Against Racism in Europe gathering in Rome. The hugely important “Game Changers” conference bought together 150 people from 40 countries that form part of the FARE network to discuss issues of race, diversity and equality.

Mr. Amaechi  was a keynote speaker who has worked for Fortune 500 corporations and amassed a stinging reputation as a change agent not afraid to speak his mind.

His sharp focus and clearly held belief that sports too often abdicates its responsibility to be a positive change agent could not be missed.

An impressive orator, with an unusually forceful intellect, he was – in keeping with the role of a consultant – tight lipped about his Anfield posting when pressed.
Of course, Mr. Amaechi is no stranger to sports and controversy. And , perhaps knows better than most what it is to bring about a change in perceptions and conscience, especially in the field of sport.

The 6’ 9” social scientist in February 2007, after his retirement from  a successful  career in top level US basketball,  became the first former NBA player to come out publicly in his memoir, Man in the Middle.

Regarded as one of the world\’s most high-profile gay athletes, he decries sports administrators for an inability to adapt and change their thinking.

Let’s hope Liverpool take full advantage of his undoubted skills and don’t just continue to talk the talk. Amaechi himself has an enviable track record of actually walking the walk. A fact aptly illustrated by his own holistic basketball programme in Manchester, where he kicked in quarter of a million pounds of his own cash to help build the centre his kids now practice and play in.


  1. Broke the glass ceiling for black football stars? I think you’ll find Liverpool we beaten by over a decade by Laurie Cunningham, Cyrille Regis and Brendan Batson at West Brom.

    And I remember the unpleasant reception they used to get at Anfield too.

  2. It appears RAFA BENITEZ is back in the frame?, FSG believe they can’t dismiss his CV. He was not originally going to be considered but that has changed, they want Champions League so they realise it is madness to overlook him!!!……………………NOT KIDDING LADS!!

  3. You lost me when you said Ferdinand was the best centre half in the country – Utter self indulgent rubbish. I can’t believe I wasted 30 seconds of my life on the first half of this shit. I shall try to avoid your writing in the future.

  4. What an absolute load of politically correct bull. Suarez is no racist and was only accused of being one by a person with rather questionable integrity and credibility. Another case of someone regurgitating popular opinion rather than facts.

  5. Have you read the FA report on the Suarez / Evra incident??? It confirmed every single detail of LFC’s much criticised statement detailing the total absence of evidence. Luis is certainly no racist as officially confirmed by the FA, and Evra and endorsed by Glen Johnson, Kenny Dalglish, and anyone who has a rudimentary grasp of the Spanish language.

  6. You say “King Kenny was dethroned in a wickedly unceremonious way at what is rapidly becoming a footballing disaster”.

    I say no they didn’t.I think there was only one major point of disagreement during the meeting at Boston and it was related to the future of the CHAD players.After sacking Comolli FSG gave KD enough time to prove his point (massive use of CHAD* players) and he didn’t. It was obvious that some players had to leave but KD wasn’t ready enough to admit to it.You can’t sack the very players you brought in yourself, it’s a hara-kiri gesture to the likes of KD.

    From another perspective it is well known that the financiers work a lot with the decision tree and I suppose that during the meeting with KD all possibilities have been explored until it came to the culminating point where there was no possibility to escape,on the balance it was either some players or KD and though it’s yet unclear I have a strong belief that KD sacrificed himself as usual.

    But in the same time no reasonable person would deny the fact FSG have acted carefully to maintain the ship afloat. And if they “sacked” so smoothly KD as it is reported by the press it was just to make room for a payoff or a financial compensation according to the way out clause of the contract .Otherwise KD would’ve gone away empty handed.

    Let’s recall all of us that last year KK did the same thing when he sacked Sammy Lee a fellow friend and partner from the glory days with no notice and chose to do it so harshly only to implement the financial compensation mechanism.By the way I still don’t remember anyone whinging or crying after little Big Sammy was sacked .

    My point is what if the spiraling downward we’re complaining about came partly after such “cruel”
    moves. I mean you can’t import 09 new players(2+7) the same term at the expense of the youth system without creating resentment,fear and anxiety at all levels.

    Most of us are focusing on pitch matters mainly but what if off-pitch issues played a big part in this crisis we’re facing right now.The absence of the owners most of the time,their lack of football knowledge,the lack of communication btw the manager and the players as
    seemed to tell us Kuyt three days ago in his interview on one hand and btw the legal department and its counterparts on the other hand if all gathered had surely undermined our progress since the game results week in week out became awkward.

    Still, after all this mess I took satisfactory note of the state of the relationship btw KK and Steve Clarke since they weren’t at odds secretly as I suspected them previously.Yesterday they showed the world they have balls and a very strong partnership.Bravo…

    As for KD on a personal level, though I asked FSG to hold him at accounts many times these last days,I’d be a liar if I didn’t tell you I got tears in my eyes when I heard the news.I would’ve never imagined it could be so hard.

    Yet I was aware FSG were on a verge to apply the ABC method this summer, a harsh method by all standards with which you sack the less performing people (generally 20% of them) at every floor. Getting rid of Comolli was already a severe warning but KD seemed to not care going too far in his stubbornness.

    Of course winning the FA cup would’ve saved his head for 06 months at least but to do so he had no serious option but to using Carroll against the weak pairing of John Terry and Ivanovich and guess what…he did’nt. Carroll showed up only when the game was almost over.

    After a massive use of CHAD players all the year round he finally misused them the day that counted the most for him, what an irony from the fate.

    Still,there’s no doubt KD is a living legend as a player,manager and as a patriot as well from that stronghold well known as the Liverpool House.

    KD is someone who will always defend our interests whatever is the cost (Suarez case) -KD is neither a politician nor a diplomat,do you listen you people of FSG? – But on the other hand he must blame himself in a first place for his sporting misfortunes.

    He had everything at his disposal,the fans, a mountain of cash and the support from the owners but he failed to be consistent despite some big results against the major sides this year.As a matter of facts you can’t bring in
    players solely from the CHAD country that is UK right now on the footballing map without being ready to face the consequences.

    And tbh driving a major overhaul by bringing in 2+7 fresh faces the same term was a big gamble.Everything has gone as if you you can always get rid of Rafa but you can never jeopardize so easily the very foundations he laid at LFC without being submitted to some harsh consequences.

    At the end of the day KD was past it as a manager
    but he will long live in our hearts.
    *CHAD(Carroll Henderson Adam Downing) is a bunch of crap(certified retards by all protocols) said otherwise not a Liverpool quality.

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