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Happy Birthday To Us

LFC is 123 today, so are you feeling festive? The manager appears to be staying put but where's the big gift of Bostonian support wrapped in a bow?

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"Tom, just look into my, no...look into my eyes. Okay. Klopp is an irrelevance, okay?"
"Tom, just look into my, no...look into my eyes. Okay. Klopp is an irrelevance, okay?"
Tony Marshall/Getty Images

This morning, as I write this, Liverpool Football Club, an institution widely sniggered at for living in the past, is running a banner headline on its official website proclaiming the fact that the Redmen have attained the venerable, if somewhat less than landmark, age of 123. On a day which has also seen the unofficial but revealingly widespread confirmation of Brendan Rodgers' continued tenure, it seems to simply prove the point snidely made by the supporters of less storied clubs about the Anfield obsession with tradition.

A story referencing the honours accumulated over that period of time, in the wake of the longest dry spell of any Liverpool manager in that history, a manager who is set to continue in his role, comes across as a touch disingenuous and sits uneasily with a fan base who are anxious that they are the only ones with both eyes fiercely focused on future trophies. Of course, there was an accompanying article for those who prefer to look towards the time to come, as the club were also pleased to announce the launch of the natty new training kit for next season. So that's nice. And not in the least bit cynical or presumptuous, given the context. Nope. Not at all.

Anyone who has regularly endured the wittering of these paragraphs will know their author to be a belligerently positive sort. When afforded some harsh perspective by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, one can easily assess the travails of one's beloved club with a slightly less histrionic attitude than most, and the simple facts are that Liverpool fans are more privileged than the vast majority. However, it is that aforementioned blessed, but increasingly burdensome history, that convinces us we should expect more.

This will be our season, is our annual refrain, and yet the years pass and the trophy which some of us old curmudgeons felt was our entitlement as kids, has not been claimed in 25 years, a quarter of a bloody century -- only a solitary season away from the 26 year wait endured by Manchester United supporters before it was finally ended by the Dark Lord of Mancunia in 1993. Oh what fun we used to have at their expense before that, during the halcyon days in which Liverpool's bitterest rivals were really no threat at all. Now, however, it is the Redmen who are the focus of haughty disdain and condescension from their smug near neighbours.

Why then, with the topic of the manager's future basically the only one that fans have obsessed about for weeks, was there no statement of unequivocal support to greet the day? Why lead with an eye on the past and another on the bank balance? Why the two subsequent articles about the club's summer trip to Thailand and how simply aces Joe Allen, a player synonymous with Rodgers, thinks it will be? Is anybody doing a little joined-up thinking here? Why persist with the maddening tactic of leaking and briefing in place of a swift, definitive statement of solidarity?

This show of support may, and no doubt will, come later in the day, but the point stands -- we may know this morning that both parties agreed to "a comprehensive plan for improvement" and that "the group (a classic Brendanism) will move forward together" after "a productive meeting to review the season," but this information is via unofficial sources. Are we to believe that there was not enough forethought put into the encounter to ensure a number of prompt draft statements were ready to go? It strikes this scribbler as a little odd and more than a little inadequate.

The reality is that the fan base had become firmly split in recent times, especially in the light of the potential availability of Jurgen Klopp and Carlo Ancelotti, and the majority, right or wrong, favoured a managerial change. There will be an inescapable feeling that FSG have shown a lack of ambition in choosing to persist with Rodgers, given the alternatives that appeared to be within reach. This makes the Antrim man's already considerable task even more onerous. The fact that it was Tom Werner, surely the most unlikely of hatchet men, who met with Rodgers was already indication that the Carnlough native was safe. The tardiness in affirming Bostonian faith in him seems to send a mixed message.

The least supporters will expect to hear is some detail of a change in the club's hierarchy, especially in relation to the identifying of targets and the subsequent attempts to sign those players. As Liverpool enter a transfer season which already seems to have a dispiriting inevitability about it, the long-suffering fans and the manager himself, could do with a little excitement and enthusiasm but one would have to be the most guileless and dewy-eyed of individuals to believe that there is going to be an announcement of a vast budget, given the patent shortcomings of many of the most recent expensive purchases (Side-eyeing you here, Dejan, Adam, Lazar and Mario).

Should such an announcement of change to the fundamental structure not be forthcoming, I fear Brendan Rodgers will be on a hiding to nothing. To simply roll on into a new campaign without some gesture towards a rethink of how the club is run will leave fans unsettled and the naysayers will need only a couple of poor results to begin the clamour for John Henry to make Ancelotti or Klopp an offer they can't refuse. This would be a most unfortunate situation and yet I know it is one that some fans are actively hoping for in the wake of the revelation that Rodgers will stay.

For those of us who prefer to retain at least a modicum of faith that the current incumbent can become the successful manager he has flirted with being, the only option is to quietly wait and hope, hope for change and for significant improvement from the manager, his players and the people entrusted with providing him with new recruits. This, granted, is not the most empowering of positions. However, if Brendan Rodgers is to be the man to guide Liverpool through the season to come, the alternative position of perpetual whining seems utterly repugnant to this Irishman and for that reason he will have the backing of many. I mean, hell, if we can't be upbeat on our birthday, when can we?

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