Here at TF we’ve had some more decent prattle with the Liverpool FC fanzine world. Daniel Nicholson, from the excellent and dare I say eclectic BOSS magazine, giving us more views on Rodgers, Sturridge, Capital of Culture 2008, Spirit of Shankly and Anfields future.
TF: 13-14 has seen a very steady start for Liverpool, bar a defeat to Southampton leaving LFC 2nd at the time of writing. What’s been behind this good start and what’s changed from the past 2 years?
Despite the lofty position I don’t think we’ve played particularly well. Don’t get me wrong, we haven’t played poor either. The difference seems to be we’ve got those much sought one nil wins. In previous seasons we would have drew or even lost a lot of the games we’ve took three points from this year; Stoke’s penalty in the final few minutes of the opening game would have went in. Manchester United would have got – and took – that once chance in the second half at Anfield. But they didn’t. And I’m not complaining!
TF: Sturridge’s form has taken off a great reliance on Suarez. Do you see this as one of the best PL partnerships developing here?
Most definitely. We’ve got a lot to be thankful to Rafa Benitez for. And his involvement (if any) in the move of Daniel Sturridge whilst Chelsea manager may another to add to the list! The partnership with Suarez is exciting. Suspensions, injuries and tantrums aside let’s hope they get a good run of a few games together. Starting this week.
TF: Do Liverpool have a sufficiently equipped squad to tilt for Top 4 this year?
Before the season I would have said no. A fifth of the way in I’ll answer ‘why not?’. Not necessarily because of the squad, which probably lacks the real depth to go the whole way, but because of how those around us have started. For the first time in years there’s something fresh about the league. It’s exciting. I just hope the unpredictable nature continues for as long as possible – and of course that we benefit from it!
TF: Brendan Rodgers seems to fit very well into Liverpool and seems popular. What do you like about him?
I was reserved but welcoming when he came. I was worried about his experience and perhaps his ability to attract top overseas names but he’s astute. The documentary didn’t do him or the club any favours but that aside he seems to have a plan and has conducted himself in fine fashion so far
TF: Why was the second coming of Dalglish (as manager) a failure?
It wasn’t. The club was at a major ebb. I don’t think most Liverpool fans, never mind football fans in general, understand just how close to the wire things came at the end of Hicks and Gillett’s reign in autumn 2010. The incompetence and disarray spread from the top down. It was despair. FSG stepping in wasn’t going to solve the issues overnight. A major one I think everyone knew was the unpopular manager, Roy Hodgson. Kenny taking over at the turn of the year was a huge relief. He stabilised the ship. It raised our collective spirit for the first time in a few years. We got three trips to Wembley out of it. The performances weren’t entirely pretty and you had to appreciate that rose-tinted glasses or not a decade out the game can put anyone on the back foot but he did a job.
TF: How influential are the SOS group within Liverpool’s support and what influence did they bring to bear on Hicks/Gillett?
I’ve sat on the SOS management committee for the past 5 years so perhaps I’m not the best person to answer this objectively! I do believe, as you might expect, we’ve had and continue to have a huge influence. The club are trying to direct fan issues through their official supporters’ committee, of which we have representatives, but it’s the independent and democratically elected SOS that are setting the agenda still. Whether it be issues such as over-zealous LFC stewards at away games, issues around tickets prices or of course the ousting of our last owners. Hicks referred to us as “the noise we are dealing with”. He never did deal with us.
TF: Where are LFC with plans for a new ground or any ground extension. Is it essential for LFC to do either to compete at the top end of the PL and in Europe?
The latest is a redevelopment of Anfield but no one’s holding their breath. I think the idea of a new stadium is far-fetched. The sums of figures involved and the time it will take to get a return on investment are just too vast for a US-based hedge fund. We do need something, however. As horribly capitalist as it sounds the fact that grounds like Old Trafford or the Emirates have significantly higher match day revenue than us means we’ll always be behind. I’d like to see increased capacity, greater access to tickets for kids and the local community and lower prices. But who wouldn’t?!
TF: What’s your take on the purchase of housing around Anfield in order to extend the ground only to leave large areas “tinned up”. How much anger has there been towards the club and the council because of this?
Parts of Anfield are run down. This is not entirely down to the football club, however they could do more. How much interest the aforementioned hedge fund can have in L4 from 3000 miles is questionable. The SOS has recently successfully registered the stadium as an Asset of Community Value. In short, this means the ground can’t be sold without first being offered to us. A small gesture perhaps, but one that will hopefully remind the owners and directors that they have a commitment to the people of Anfield and the city as a whole.
TF: As new inquests into the deaths of the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster are hears next year, what do you think is the best likely outcome for the families and do you think those responsible will ever be brought to justice?
As we know the original accidental death verdict from the original Hillsborough inquest has been quashed. The revelations of September 12th 2012 pave the way for the an open and honest new inquest and there is a hope that those individuals and organisations responsible will now finally be held to account.
TF: What lasting benefit has the City of Liverpool gained from the City of Culture in 2008?
The Capital of Culture gave us a renewed sense of confidence. You could say that goes against the cliché of the chirpy Scouser but 2008 undoubtedly did give us a boost. There was something for everyone and I believe that’s continued since. We had events during that year like La Princesse, a huge mechanical spider that walked the city’s streets for four days. Mass participation events that had never really been done before ’08 but have been done since. Even things like the increase in the number of low-cost airlines flying into John Lennon airport in that year continue to deliver tourists from all over the continent.
TF: What is your outlook for Newcastle United this season?
I’m intrigued to see how the off the pitch drama pans out. As someone interested in fan politics I hope whatever the outcome with Ashley, Kinnear and the rest of the circus ultimately benefits the ordinary supporter.
On the pitch dare I say a little indifferent – sorry lads!
TF: What’s your prediction for Saturday’s match?
We’ve had some very good results at St. James’ in the recent past. Let’s go for another; Newcastle 0 – 2 Liverpool.