Synergy. The blue sky thinkers, with their helicopter view and nervous compulsion to be eternally going forward, love it, don't they? In fact, it's a safe bet that the word is a robust cornerstone of all the best, and very worst, corporate speeches. You know the type of thing. A merger or deal or partnership is announced, and amidst all the platitudinous guff that inevitably follows, some fellow in a bad tie will invoke the glorious wonder of synergy. It's intended to get the audience nodding sagely, thrilled by the potential this new alliance promises.
The ultimate buzz word, it's user hopes to convey the wonder of a mutually advantageous conjunction but really, all it suggests to this world weary cynic is the unholy union of dingy hotel function rooms, a simmering nest of passive aggression and disappointing triangular salad sandwiches. In short, the word has been stripped of it's meaning as a direct result of overuse by what Bart Simpson calls "business jerks."
Yesterday, when Ian Ayre regaled us with a grand tale of the renewal of the deal with Standard Chartered, he was a model of effusive corporate-speak. As a result, the curmudgeonly naysayer in all of us winced and composed an embittered retort about how it's no coincidence that such a deal is announced just as the club is faced with a period of gloomy introspection following underachievement. That is not entirely fair. The deal appears to be a good one, the kind of necessary commercial evil that must be wholeheartedly embraced if the same grumbling fans' desire for glory is ever to be sated.
"Since we signed the first deal some years back, we have always felt that there was great synergy between the two organisations - particularly the reach of Standard Chartered Bank around Asia, Africa and the Middle East, and the great global support we have as a football club in those regions," insisted Liverpool's chief executive officer. "Being hand in hand in those markets, marketing together and touring across the world together has been a fantastic asset for both organisations. We're very pleased to continue that."
Hand in hand, marketing together across foreign territories -- it's the grand Romantic dream of all Liverpool fans, right? Well, not quite, but silence that inner crank and allow Ian his day in the sun. We may find it all a tad oleaginous but we're in no position to grumble. This is what Ayre does best and many would have been more than content for him to have been solely focussed on just this sort of deal as opposed to the sort for actual footballers who will wear the name of the financial institution on the kit manufactured by another corporate partner, whilst eating a well-known donut on the drive to Subway.
Great partnerships, ironically, are what some of Liverpool's truly wonderful teams have been built upon. St. John and Hunt, Keegan and Toshack, Dalglish and Rush and, most recently, Gerrard and Torres, have all thrilled Kopites with their telepathic tendencies and goalscoring. The club captain has endured a torrid final season in red, the unhappy origins of which can be traced back to the crushing disappointments of last campaign and the wretched summer that followed. Torres, himself, could be said to have been in a far longer down-cycle since his departure from L4. Sure, there were the much vaunted prizes he gleaned as a Chelsea player, but his patchy form over that period meant that the Spaniard never truly seemed to be a part of the furniture at Stamford Bridge.
In conjunction with Gerrard, however, the Spaniard was an irrepressible force. Pace, power, instinctive finishing and a penchant for the unexpected were what marked his Liverpool career from the very moment he latched onto a Gerrard through-ball and skinned a hapless Tal Ben Haim, before poaching a winner on his Anfield debut. As the matches rolled on, Rafa Benitez pushed Gerrard up close to the Spanish striker and a beautiful football marriage was built, with the two superstars plundering goal after goal and Liverpool rising inexorably to the top of the European rankings. This was proper synergy.
Now, as Gerrard ponders a future alongside Robbie Keane in the Californian sun and a newly energised Torres mucks in back at his beloved Atletico Madrid, it is interesting to hear the World Cup winner reflect on his time with Gerrard and the influence the Huyton man had on him as a captain and a friend. Torres, bathed in the warmth and redemptive glow of the genuine embrace that he received from fans in the recent friendly at Anfield, paid tribute to the Liverpool captain.
"There’s one player that influenced me above anyone else and that’s Gerrard," insisted the man who notched a remarkable 81 goals in 142 appearances for the Redmen. "He changed my career, my ambition, wanting to win, he changed everything. Even when I was leaving Liverpool he told me, ‘go, think about yourself. Do what’s best for you, you’ve nothing to prove’. He changed the way I saw things, telling me that I could get much higher than what I had always thought. I’ll never find a team-mate like him.
"Out of all the great players I have played with, Gerrard, for me, is the best," Torres continued. "But he is more than that -- he is a good friend who, as a captain, is always there for his players. I know what Liverpool means to him, so yes I would have loved to see my friend finish his final season with a trophy, but it was not to be. He has had so much success for Liverpool that I am sure the final game is going to be very emotional for him and the fans."
Emotional indeed. If you'll pardon me a second, I may go for a little cry. The recollection of those glory days, when, granted, nothing was won, is quite a jolt to the sentimental heart of this fan. Everything seemed possible in 2008, when Liverpool boasted some of the world's finest footballers and a duo spearheading them that was the envy of all of football. Now, having begun the process of renewal and scaled premature heights last season, Liverpool must once again take stock and hope that a combination will emerge to drive the club to the glory even the synergistic union of Torres and Gerrard could not bring about.