By Nick Webster
I remember a time when I despised Liverpool Football Club, except, of course, when they played in Europe and flew the flag for England.
The reason for this irrational and emotional state was fairly straightforward. I was young, impressionable and couldn’t stand that whenever they played, they won. It didn’t seem fair or possible but week-after-week, they’d always come away with maximum points.
It also didn’t matter whom they played because the result was always the same and you could bet your last pound note that either Ian Rush or Kenny Dalglish would be on the score sheet with a late 90th-minute winner.
These days, though, it's a different story, although, emotion still plays a part. Now I feel the pangs of pitty as this proud club lurches around desperately trying to hold on to something, a something that will provide stability, a something that will provide more than hope.
There have been two spells since 1990 when hope was the golden curency, though. Gerard Houllier, circa 2001, when it felt like the club was on its way back. Five trophies in six months is no mean feat but that golden year turned into a false dawn. And Houllier would eventually lose his way. A combination of ill health and, I believe, the impossible task placed upon him by the supporters, namely restoring the Reds greatness.
Rafa Benitez, circa 2005, would also lay claim to restoring some of the red lustre after the heroics of Istanbul but to students of the game, a once-in-a-million occurence does not signify a return and certainly not a pattern. Ill health did not force the Spaniard from Anfield, though, his mental state was frequently questioned towards the end of his reign. FACT!
What would the Kop faithful give to a return for either of those men and those days, when Liverpool FC's name was mentioned in the same breath with trophies that actually mattered.
Now Brendan Rodgers sits in the "impossible job", a phrase that once belonged to the post of England manager.
The Northrn Irishman believes in playing football the right way. He believes in the Liverpool way but, unfortunately, football has moved on. The mystique that once drove me to despise a club that was built on winning has gone forever. Perhaps Rodgers can turn my pitty into something else, perhaps he can make me feel the way I did when Liverpool used to conquer Europe.
I was proud that they were from England.