What makes a big club? There is no magic equation to working out which is a big club and which isn’t but certainly most people consider that to consider a club as a “big club”, the club needs to have most of the following elements:
- Recent success
- Proud history, winning trophies
- In the hunt for current trophies
- Large stadium
- Dedicated support
- Large reputation, able to attract big name players
On 5 Live this week Lawrie Sanchez suggested that Liverpool are not currently a big club, which, unsurprisingly, fellow guest John Aldridge reacted to with incredulity. In my opinion, Sanchez was just trolling, possibly looking for a reaction, but that doesn’t mean he was wholly wrong. His reasons for Liverpool no longer being a big club were: No recent success – they hadn’t won the Premier League since football began in 1992, and hadn’t won any trophy for five years. In fact, the year they won the Champions League they actually lost 17 games in all competitions. Fair point, though they did reach to cup finals and finish second in the league in the last five years, but Sanchez’s point is valid on that respect. He claimed that Liverpool won the Champions League “by default” which was less understandable as it was anything but.
He also claimed that Liverpool’s support is dwindling, based on recent attendances, which are down, but at a time of year when many people were facing problems with the weather. He did say that they could be proud of their history, etc, which, with 18 titles and 5 European Cup victories, they can be.
Aldridge countered that Liverpool were a “massive club. A massive, massive club” who had just “lost their way”… well that’s me convinced. Sanchez retorted that Liverpool fans needed to be more realistic, and he’s certainly correct in that respect. I mentioned John Aldridge, so by law I have to post this:
Let’s be clear: both were making ludicrous points to back up their opinion which were, in themselves, valid. I’m no fan of Liverpool, but they satisfy enough of the above criteria to be considered a big club still, albeit one that’s on a massive and steep decline. If they weren’t a big club, I don’t think we’d all be so interested in their cataclysmic descent to the West Ham end of the table. But Liverpool aren’t a “massive” club. They can’t compete with City’s spending power, they can’t compete with Man United’s recent success, they can’t compete with Man United’s support, or possibly even the support level of other British clubs like Celtic, and their squad isn’t up to the standards of the likes of Spurs. They certainly aren’t in the hunt for any trophies this season and as for being able to attract big name players, that’s not certain. Joe Cole was a big capture in the summer, regardless of his form since. But how many of the bigger stars want to stay? It’s not known.
But, their reputation is big enough that I can see them turning it around in a few years – it is their history which they can trade on, and only their history. Woy probably hasn’t been good enough, although Anfield never really gave him a chance to be fair, but with a different manager (not King Kenny for what it’s worth), and different players, they might be able to break into the top 5 again. It’ll be difficult with the emergence of Spurs as a genuine force in English football though.
But Liverpool fans need to be more realistic, listening to phone-ins and reading message forums they seem to feel they are entitled to a top four finish every season, but based on what? A particularly cringe-worthy comment on one forum was “He [Rafa Benitez] understood what this club is all about. He understood what loving LFC was all about. He understood that we ARE different from other fans … [descends into more drivel]. No chance, Liverpool fans aren’t special, they’re the same as fans of any other club: some intelligent some (usually the majority) are morons. This chap was clearly in the latter category. Comedy article of the week has to go to this beauty from a chap who is just gagging to hate Woy Hodgson. There are some quotes in there which show Hodgson in a bad light, definitely, but many of them the author is just trying to hate Hodgson: e.g: Hodgson chose not to play Torres on the advice of his medical staff: OMFG Hodgson doesn’t even pick teh team!!!1!!11! LOLZ.
In summary, Liverpool probably aren’t currently a big club, though with their history and the appeal of the club, they probably will be in the future. So for non-Liverpool fans we can watch with glee as a big club bounces around from humiliating defeat to humbling losses, featuring cack left-backs, managers with 1950s cockney accents, heroin-addled centre halves and a large dose of humble pie. Enjoy it while it lasts, it won’t be forever (probably).