Liverpool 2 – Sunderland 2 Match Report & Analysis

There was a battle that took place today that is worthy of much conversation. It wasn’t the battle between the two teams on the pitch, however, but rather the battle between the fans in the stands and the owners of the club in Boston.

I’m not going to go into the details of why today’s protest took place as there are many excellent pieces that explain it brilliantly elsewhere. This is probably the definitive one in my opinion, written by Jay McKenna of SOS. Jay spent the last 13 months of his life negotiating with Liverpool Football Club about the ticket costs along with plenty of other people, so sufficed to say he knows what he’s talking about.

In brief, though, the protest came about because of Fenway Sports Group’s decision to raise ticket prices at Anfield from next season. There is plenty of bluster and nonsense floating about regarding it all, with some pointing to £9 tickets as if that makes it ok, whilst others say that the £77 tickets show the club has taken things too far. The truth, as always, lies somewhere in the middle. The £9 tickets are a brilliant step in the right direction but it’s too little to count for anything. As for the £77 tickets, there aren’t that many of them but even one is one too many at a club that has a foundation in working class values.

The more important point is that the amount of people who will benefit from the reduced priced tickets are far out-weighed by the amount of supporters who will be punished by the tickets that have increased in value. Category B tickets that cost £53 this season will be going up to £69 next term, for example.

Shankly Statue

Shankly Statue

There had been something of a division amongst fans over the planned protest and understandably so. Walking out of the ground goes against the very grain of what it is to be a supporter, after all. Some people felt it might be better to refuse to buy things from the food and drink kiosks inside the ground, hitting the club and its corporate partners where it hurt. The trouble with doing this is that most fans don’t buy stuff inside the ground anyway and also it lacks visual impact.

Other fans suggested a sit-in protest; staying inside the ground after the final whistle and refusing to leave. This would therefore not affect the players but would still have something of an impact. It’s not a bad idea, but it is also likely to lack the impact that walking out would have as the latter will most definitely be caught on camera.

Making A Stand Or Making Excuses

Those that debate the nature of the protest perhaps have a valid point, but at least they agree that protests are necessary. There is another group of people, however, that feel that protests are embarrassing and unnecessary. These people are, frankly, idiots. I make no apology for that statement as I genuinely believe it to be true.

The arguments they make are based in flawed logic and false ‘facts’. They suggest that raised ticket prices are necessary to be able to compete with the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea on the field. They somehow think that the extra £2 million in profit that the raised ticket prices will earn the club will make us competitive, when in actual fact it wouldn’t have paid for Jose Enrique’s wages this season.

The idea that increased ticket prices will make Liverpool competitive is absolute nonsense. The revenue brought in from match day tickets as a percentage of the club’s income is around 20% and that includes all of the money brought in from excessive hospitality packages. Liverpool are ninth in the Deloitte rankings in world football. The additional £2 million that will be brought in from these ticket increases won’t even take the club close to Chelsea in eighth place. It makes no difference except that it lines the pockets of the hedge fund owners.

The other thing these people say is that if you think the tickets are too expensive then you should just not go to the match. The ludicrousness of that argument is almost too much to handle. Should people who have been going to Anfield for 30 years suddenly stop because they can no longer afford to go? Mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers who have gone to the match as a ritual for as long as they can remember should no longer do that and rather just roll over and accept that they’ve been priced out of the match-going experience? Behave yourself.

On BBC 5 live this evening someone suggested those who were sick of the ticket prices should take up a different hobby. “Go fishing”, they said. “Get into tennis or rugby or something”. The very notion that this is what football supporters could do is cringeworthy. Being a fan is akin to a religious experience and you can’t just walk away from that because the people who own your club want to make themselves more money at your expense.

The Kop in full flow

The Kop in full flow

There are still others who didn’t want to walk out of the ground on 77 minutes because they won’t be affected by the price rises next season. The short-sightedness of this thought process is astonishing. If they get away with raising prices now then they’ll keep raising them until you’re priced out and everyone who has made the club what it is will be priced out and it will be a soulless commodity that has no association whatsoever with the working class world it was built from.

The Match Itself

There was a match today too, of course. There’s an argument that the less said about that the better, though. After the Leicester City match I wrote a piece about Liverpool needing to stop making the same mistakes over and over again. They haven’t done that yet, will they ever learn?

There are plenty of mitigating factors that mean Jurgen Klopp shouldn’t come under too much criticism, but the idea that he is free from blame is becoming more and more fallacious with each match that passes.

I’ll be honest and admit that my heart sank when I saw the team sheet. Yes I was made up to see Joe Allen get his start, it has been coming for quite some time. I was also delighted to see Daniel Sturridge named amongst the substitutes – the sooner we can get him fit and firing the better.

In essence, though, it was evident that Jurgen Klopp, absent from the ground as he underwent an operation to have his appendix removed, was going with pretty much the same formation and tactics that had failed to succeed in the last three matches. No pace, no intelligence, no real attacking threat.

Sakho

Sakho

Defensively Liverpool remain shambolic. Mamadou Sakho might be a fan favourite and the work he does off the pitch with charities and so on should be applauded. The work he does on the pitch, however, should start to be questioned now. For Jermain Defoe to be able to hold him off and have time to bring the ball down and turn and get a shot away is absolutely criminal.

Meanwhile Alberto Moreno is still getting picked in the left back spot despite the fact that he doesn’t have a brain. He’s a mediocre defender who offers nowhere near enough going forward and has more than a few terrible mistakes in his locker. He needs to get binned for a bit, but then so does most of the defence.

Maybe Jurgen knows he’s going to make sweeping changes in the summer and wants to get the players he’s going to keep using his system as much as possible. That’s a fair approach, I suppose, but at some point it would just be nice to see the lads win a game of football.

Mignolet

I said a few weeks ago that I had had my final say on Mignolet, so I’m not going to make a song and dance about his performance here. Instead I’ll just let you read these tweets:

A five year contract.

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