Liverpool fans swarmed Anfield on Thursday in protest against the removal of manager Rafa Benitez and of the reckless ownership of two Americans, Tom Hicks and George Gillett. The story is nothing new. Liverpool fans have been adamant in calls for new ownership for the past several months.
Attending the Portsmouth match at Anfield with my father in March, we were handed pamphlets reading, “Tom & George: Debt, Lies, Cowboys. Not Welcome Here.” It contained several quotes from the initial takeover, which now seem rather pathetic. There were little “gems’ like, “This is not a takeover like the Glazer deal at Manchester United. There is no debt involved.” In terms of the stadium, Hicks even went as far as to say, “The shovel needs to be in the ground in the next 60 days or so, and we would intend to follow that. I think you’ll see the beginnings of a great big swimming pool being dug out here in Stanley Park relatively soon.”
Apparently they were wrong, as Liverpool FC is now saddled with debts to the tune of 350 million pounds and Stanley Park looks more or less the same more than three years after the quote.
Obviously, action needs to be taken. But trying to tread the line between being passionate and proactive versus plain offensive is a difficult game to play, and Liverpool fans, in their frenzy, went overboard on Thursday.
The Telegraph newspaper ran a story about Liverpool supporters protesting outside Anfield, and included the picture of several Liverpudlians holding the American flag as it burned. Flags of all countries are a symbol of pride and should never be defaced, period. To see it happening here disappoints me more than anything else.
I use “disappoint” rather than “infuriate” here because some part of me understands it. We’ve all been in those situations where we get caught up in the energy of a crowd and do something rash, and it’s a shame that Liverpool fans stooped to this level. Though I can empathize with their anger, their actions are no less inexcusable.
There are plenty of great, loyal Liverpool fans in the United States, including this writer, that are as frustrated by Hicks and Gillett as these men are. Simply because we are American does not mean we are on their side. It often seems to me these men are regarded more as “Yanks” than as the dirtbags that they are. And though I’ll be the first to admit that those two things sometimes go hand in hand, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that America isn’t responsible for destroying Liverpool. These two men are.