I’m Mad As Hell And I’m Not Gonna Take It Anymore
The return of Gerard Houllier to Anfield tonight will evoke fond memories for the majority of Liverpool fans, after all he did ‘take Liverpool in to the twenty first century’ with that remarkable cup treble in 2001, and in so doing, returned Liverpool’s long gone glory days back to Anfield; something Liverpool fans will be forever grateful for. The treble season aside, there is a whole host of other great memories that will live long in the memory of the Anfield faithful; Fowler’s overhead kick at The Valley, Murphy’s winners’ at Old Trafford, Houllier’s romantic return to the Anfield dug-out against Roma, to name but a few. During the treble season, ‘Are you Shankly in disguise?’ could even be heard emanating from the Kop. Although this was half sung in jest, it is a measure of how far Liverpool came under the Frenchman. By finishing second the season after the Treble, expectations were raised even higher and it felt like it was only a matter of time before that elusive title was back in its rightful Merseyside home.
However, things took a drastic turn for the worse after Houllier’s heart scare. A string of bad signings left Liverpool streets behind the country’s elite at a time Liverpool appeared almost ready to challenge Arsenal and Manchester United for the title. Houllier signed ‘the next Zidane’ and ‘the next Vieira’ with great confidence these players weren’t going to turn out to be Bruno Cheyrou and Salif Diao; two players names you hear more in jokes than in football discussion. The two seasons after this, before his resignation, were two of the worst seasons Liverpool have endured in recent times; defensive, long ball football, embarrassing press conferences (“we’ve won more corners than any other team”) and an acceptance of borderline mediocrity.
The reason why ‘I’m As Mad As Hell’ is that the levels of ordinariness Houllier reached after a life-threatening heart scare and three years of progress and success, Hodgson has managed to achieve in a matter of months. The defensive football has been present since day one, excluding a few instances against weak opposition when Hodgson has had no choice but to attempt to appease the fans in some way. The press conferences he gives are baffling, but worryingly, he appears to be dwindling into further depths of embarrassment every time he talks to the cameras. And the acceptance of mediocrity is present in every negative performance, along with the open lack of guts and purpose he displays- “Lets just hope City don’t win 6-0”, “We don’t want this to be a cakewalk for Spurs”.
What infuriates me even more so, is the fact that Liverpool appointed this man themselves. A wishy-washy polite old gentleman with friends, no enemies, across the country that can do Liverpool good from an all important media perspective. As Joseph Heller would say, ‘some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them. With Roy Hodgson it has been all three.’ And although Hodgson is impressively continuing the theme of mediocrity, it is the previous Liverpool board that strived for, and are to blame for, the club’s current mediocrity.
So as Liverpool and Aston Villa lock horns (is ‘lock horns’ an appropriate term if you put ten men behind the ball ninety minutes?) at Anfield tonight, the loudest noise of the night will deservedly be made for Gerard Houllier, but we can live in hope the cries of ‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this anymore!’ from The Kop will be that little bit louder.
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