Why Spirit of Shankly Are Absolutely Right

The problem with the team not playing well is that it allows the cranks to come out of the woodwork. People who would normally be unable to express bizarre opinions are suddenly finding that they can say pretty much whatever they want under the guise of it being ok because they can claim that they’re criticising the performance of the team. Right now, Liverpool are not in a good place. The Reds are struggling to put any sort of decent form together, with the manner of performances being somewhat alarming. Speaking personally, one of the biggest issues that I have is that I don’t know what it is that the manager is trying to do. He seems to have lost his ability to be pragmatic, sticking with a formula that isn’t working for much longer than makes any sort of sense. We saw it with the midfield, where he played Fabinho Tavares and Jordan Henderson in roles that, for whatever reason, they’re no longer able to accomplish until finally he saw the light.

Now we’re seeing him repeat the same mistake in attack, opting to play Harvey Elliott on the left of the front three even though he’d be better on the right, leaving Mo Salah on the right-wing despite the fact that he’s prolific when he’s central and completely disregarding Cody Gakpo’s own declaration that he prefers playing on the left. During yesterday’s match against Brighton & Hove Albion, Elliott’s goal came from him being on the left and Salah’s best chance came when he’d moved into the middle, yet still we persist with something that isn’t working. Irrespective of my frustrations over this, I’ve tried to stop myself from saying mad stuff on Twitter because I’m not a crank. Unfortunately, the weirdos shout the loudest and work together to amplify each other’s voices, which means that we all end up having to listen to them, like the bore in the pub talking about why actually Brexit is working just fine. Just because they’re loud doesn’t mean we should listen to them.

SoS Speaks For Its Members

There has been a degree of criticism levelled as Spirit of Shankly this week, which came in the wake of the group releasing a joint statement with Manchester United Supporters’ Trust about who is allowed to own football club’s in England. The statement, despite the response to it from some sections of the online support base, says nothing controversial. It points out that both Liverpool and United are ‘widely recognised global institutions’, calling on the government to do something in order to stop them from falling into ‘unfit or improper hands’. The line that seems to have caused the most trouble reads, “That global profile will likely attract many potential bidders, including some whose primary motivations may not respect either the cultural heritage of our clubs or the values and interests of supporters.” By being annoyed with Spirit of Shankly, people are essentially saying that they would like a bidder that doesn’t respect the heritage of the club and values of supporters.

I am a paid up member of Spirit of Shankly and can declare, unequivocally, that they speak for me. Those that haven’t joined the union are angry that they are being spoken on behalf of, but if they don’t care about the heritage of the football club or the values of the supporters, I’d suggest that we’re better off without them. What we are talking about here is state ownership of football clubs, which is wrong on every level that I can think of. Some of the abuse that I’ve received from people online has accused me of being racist, but I couldn’t care less where the bidders have come from. If the British government was looking to buy Liverpool, I would object because I dislike state ownership of football clubs. When you then add in the idea that the state in question could be one that has an appalling human rights record, I’m even less keen on them being able to buy a football club that was founded on the socialist ideals of Bill Shankly and represents the people of Liverpool.

Human Rights Should Be Universal

It is worth pointing out that what most people who are critical of possible new owners are worried about is the club being sold to governments, or businesses with close ties to governments, that have a dreadful record when it comes to human rights. There are no publicly out members of the LGBTQ+ community in Qatar, for example, because it is illegal to be so there. Women are only allowed to marry with the permission of their male guardian. Those are two things that are simply basic rights in my mind. I have many LGBTQ+ friends. How could I meet up with them and look them in the eye, knowing that my football club is owned by a government that would have them put to death if they could, but pretending that its ok because they’ll sign more football players than the current owners? I wouldn’t be able to do it, so of course I would object to their ownership. Spirit of Shankly, as a supporters’ union that is supposed to speak for its members, are saying so.

Interestingly, I can see both sides of the argument. When the club was being dragged towards the brink of administration by the previous owners, I was living in Birmingham and London. I had no real sense of what was going on and only heard talk of the likes of the protests around the ground through the grapevine. I can remember feeling as though it was impacting on the pitch and wishing it wasn’t happening, but also having no real sense of just how dire the situation was at the club at the time. Looking back now, I’m so grateful to the people that stood up for what is right for the club, many of whom were part of the formation of SoS. They had a clear sense of what was happening at Anfield, whilst I was looking on from afar and only thinking about the football. Nowadays, I live on Merseyside and, through my work with The Anfield Wrap, am much more clued up on what is happening. I’m glad I’m a member of Spirit of Shankly and hope they continue representing what’s best for the football club.

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