Early Doors

Liverpool enjoy a rare good news day

Early Doors

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As CJ was so fond of reminding her contemporaries in the West Wing, the ability to control a news cycle is paramount to any functioning Presidency in an age of 24-hour rolling news.

Well, the same could probably be said for a football club and yesterday Liverpool had their first big win in that respect for quite some time. While the news cycle has been spinning out of control for some time on Merseyside, smashing nearly everything in its path, Monday's stadium-related news tamed it, for a period at least.

The confirmation that Liverpool would be remaining at Anfield and seeking to redevelop the famous old stadium so it eventually holds 60,000 came as welcome news to supporters who have been promised a new stadium for years and have had to suffer through interminable delays while a possible move to Stanley Park was explored.

The nadir of which came in 2007 when, like a couple of grinning idiots, Tom Hicks and George Gillett promised a "spade in the ground" within 60 days. That was about as far as things went. Like Alberto Aquilani, the whole expensive project just didn't get off the ground. The debt they acquired when purchasing the club swamped them.

Yesterday it was Ian Ayre's turn to inflame hope in the hearts of supporters who want a stadium that will accommodate a legion of new supporters and vastly improve the poor level of matchday income which currently sees Liverpool lag far behind the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal.

Though essentially a reversion to a previously held position, Liverpool's announcement was a firm commitment to a brighter future. Any Hicks and Gillett comparison is unfair - this appears a more considered and realistic plan, while John W Henry has impressive form in this regard having revamped the historic Fenway for his Boston Red Sox.

As Ayre said in a press conference yesterday: "Today represents literally to the day two years since Fenway Sports Group acquired Liverpool Football Club. In that time, we've been given the time - and taken the time - to consider all of the different options available to Liverpool Football Club. It's about finding the right solution, it's about finding the right viable solution and considering properly the potential of both options.

"We also this year celebrated our 120th year as Liverpool Football Club at Anfield. There is no question, Anfield is the spiritual home of Liverpool Football Club. Our fans around the world, both those who have been here and those who haven't, recognise the importance of this great stadium. For many of them, they've had those life-changing experiences that they'll never forget [at Anfield].

"It's important for us to note that any preference we ever had was always to be and stay at Anfield. The opportunity to remain is clearly at the forefront of our plans and today's vision and announcement, we feel, is a major step forward in that direction. It's a major step forward for the football club, but more importantly for the residents."

This slice of good news was welcome indeed after a three months or so that has seen Liverpool leave themselves open to ridicule all too easily. (At this point ED should note it is excluding recent good news about Hillsborough from this discussion. It is far too serious to be considered in terms of news cycles and it is bigger than Liverpool or football. That is a story about British society and democracy).

Having initially put the club on a much firmer footing having sacked Kenny Dalglish, under whose watch Liverpool committed arguably one of the greatest PR faux pas of all time when allowing their players to warm-up with TV shirts in support of a man in Luis Suarez who had been found to have repeatedly racially abused Patrice Evra, Liverpool had steadied the ship.

But despite new man Brendan Rodgers making a very bright impression - pushing all the correct buttons as he restored the old 'This Is Anfield' sign and brought back the red goal nets in a none too subtle attempt to align his new regime of possession football with the club's glory days of pass and move - things have since gone awry. Best laid plans and all that.

Things started snowballing when Liverpool loaned Andy Carroll to West Ham yet failed to bring in a replacement on transfer deadline day, prompting Henry to write his open letter to fans which, while admirable in its intent, failed to adequately explain Liverpool's inability to get a deal done. Desperately mediocre results on the pitch - in part stemming from this failure - have hardly helped the situation.

Ostensibly designed to open them up to the American market, it could hardly be said that the airing of 'Being: Liverpool', the weekly documentary owned by Fox Soccer but shown over here by Channel Five, has done the club many favours. Ayre's Harley Davidson was comical enough, but Rodgers's rather bungled attempt at motivating his players using his infamous three envelope trick looked rather silly. Some have even taken to calling the Liverpool boss, who does like to talk of "going forward" and indulge in management speak, 'Brenton Rodgers' in honour of a certain David Brent.

And then, of course, we come to Duncan Jenkins and Jen Chang. The revelation that a director of communications for one of the world's biggest clubs felt compelled to take action against a parody account on Twitter is faintly hilarious, allegations of threats made less so. Liverpool have gone to ground on this one, save for a semi-denial from Chang himself, and until they offer any further explanation we can only conclude that his behaviour looks heavy-handed, at best.

Reported talk of "dog s**t coming through your letter box" is acutely embarrassing for Liverpool, though perhaps this is merely a new trend in the Premier League and it is now only a matter of time before Karren Brady is caught in a meeting with @TheBig_Sam, threatening to release the hounds, or someone at Manchester City takes a bat to the head of all the MariLOL LADotelli accounts.

These recent issues explain why yesterday must have been such a breath of fresh air for Liverpool supporters. Their club was finally making headlines for all the right reasons, but for how long?

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I don't really care what Patrick Vieira says. It surprised me to read that. The impression I get from young players at Liverpool is that they're desperate to get into this set-up. You can see in their faces that, when they're left out, it has disappointed them. The young players are hungry." - Steven Gerrard gets rather dismissive when confronted with claims from Manchester City's football development executive that young English players don't love their national team.

FOREIGN VIEW: Japan has reacted angrily to a French television host who showed a composite picture of national team goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima with four arms and made a joke about the "Fukushima effect". Praising Kawashima's performance in Japan's 1-0 win over France in a friendly on Friday, Laurent Ruquier's wisecrack prompted laughter and applause in the studio. Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura on Tuesday called Ruquier's remark, a reference to last year's nuclear crisis in Fukushima, "inappropriate". He added that the Japanese Embassy in France had sent a letter of protest to the television station France 2. The letter said the remark "hurts the feelings of people affected by the disaster and hinders efforts for reconstruction," Fujimura added.

COMING UP: England face Poland in Warsaw in their latest World Cup qualifier at 8pm while we also have live text commentary from the matches between Spain and France, Faroe Islands and Ireland, Belgium and Scotland, Croatia and Wales and Portugal and Northern Ireland.

Ahead of England's match we have a fascinating interview with Jan 'The Clown' Tomaszewski, who stopped England qualifying for the 1974 World Cup with a heroic performance at Wembley. We also look at some classic matches between the two sides as well as profiling one of Poland's big stars with Euroscout and getting into a debate with our Polish colleagues about who will win.

Oh, and there's blogs from Paul Parker and James Horncastle to also keep you busy.

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