December 7th: Neil Poole takes a look at a couple of Magnificent Seven’s (and one not so magnificent seven!) who have played for Liverpool in our latest installment of the TBT Advent Calendar.
King Kenny, Liverpool FC’s undisputed best ever number 7 is needed. The word on the street is that an important baby is due to be born in 18 days time in a shed. Some people call it the Taxi Club. Worryingly, the kid’s Mum has a penchant for wearing blue and the Dad doesn’t get involved much.
King Kenny, via the White Star, is getting there for the birth and needs two other useful Liverpool number sevens that can provide some Red wisdom. Each number 7 has a different gift to give new-born baby Stevie. Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh will put him on the right path and prepare him for the complexities of life as a 21st Century Red.
Kenny Dalglish is Liverpool’s golden number 7. He is the precious material and the valuable asset that the club returns to again and again in times of turmoil. In economics, one theory is that gold is the standard commodity that offers stability and promotes public trust. Sound familiar?
Signed in 1977 to replace a departing number 7 and fill a worrying Kevin Keegan shaped hole he quickly put everybody’s worries to bed, surpassed the contributions of his predecessor and earned himself the title of Liverpool’s best ever player.
When Joe Fagan retired a broken man the wake of Heysel in 1985, it was Kenny Dalglish the the board turned to. He stepped into the player manager role. There was no period of transition; there was no five year plan. He just went and bagged Liverpool their only ever league and cup double. Yes, Bob Paisley was still there in the background. Yes the players were veteran winners, but don’t under-estimate this achievement from a rookie manager.
His support to the families and contribution to Liverpool after Hillsborough is immeasurable. Don’t forget, that this was a man that essentially half a city turned to.
In our recent history, it was King Kenny that FSG returned to in early 2011 to attempt to get the players and fans onside after Roy Hodgson had alienated everyone with medieval ball and chain and his never ending sentences of misery.
There’s a recent trend for belittling Kenny Dalglish. He jizzed over £100 million up the wall. Our league finish under him wasn’t good enough. He couldn’t handle the media. It’s hard to argue that any of this isn’t right.
But in January 2011 he was what we needed. Everyone trusted King Kenny. He was tried and tested. He offered stability. He promoted public trust. He was gold.
Like the negative perception of gold, the view of Dalglish was that he was antiquated, he belonged to the past, he was unfashionable. The same with Liverpool.
On the other hand all are established. They never truly lose their value and despite the trends going on around them they will always surge and find success in any circumstances. In the last thirteen years of an apparent barren wilderness, we’ve still won everything apart from the Premiership. Similarly, even when league form was appalling under Kenny, he still won us a cup.
Essentially, this number 7 teaches Baby Stevie to roll with the history jibes and accept we’re not fashionable but to also understand we’re a universally valued gift, transcending geographical borders and regardless of how bad we’re supposed to be, we’ll always end up with a precious metal in our cabinet.
Our current number 7 accompanies Kenny and brings Frankincense. Frankincense costs a lot and is 100% gum (from a tree), which smells nice. Luis Suarez costs at least 40 million and 2 quid, is also made up of 100% gum (and teeth). I’m sure he smells great too.
In a similar story to this one there’s a baby’s called Jesus. I think he plays for Man City. Frankincense also figures in that story and represents divinity. In an explicit avoidance of blasphemy allegations I’d like to make it clear that I don’t think Luis Suarez is God-like. Furthermore, Suarez patchy behaviour patterns mean he probably better fitted to the Hell’s Angels rather than heaven’s.
But when it comes to football prowess, that boy’s skill truly is divine. The value of the joy it brings far exceeds any monetary worth. Like Frankincense, he’s valuable in real cash terms but his symbolic importance is much greater.
Whilst we retain arguably the 3rd best player in the world we carry on the tradition of always having at least one or two great footballers at our club. I can list all the greats from pre-1991, that’s easy. But what’s much more important is that we have still always been able to produce or attract great players in the years when league titles have eluded us and we’ve fallen down the pecking order.
Whether it be Robbie Fowler, Steve McManaman, Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso or Fernando Torres there’s always been someone there to bring a bit of enjoyment when the bigger picture hasn’t been so bright and shiny. Suarez is the latest instalment. The first and third of his goals against Norwich on Wednesday night in particular were sublime. It was a privilege to see them in the flesh. The pattern of our past tells us Suarez will be followed by someone else who will delight.
Baby Stevie will need to know that we’re not at the great heights we were, but he’ll find comfort that he’ll always be able to see a few great players when he takes his extortionately priced seat at Anfield.
Liverpool will always have valuable players materialistically, but their value to your footballing soul is incalculable.
Myrrh is another expensive scent. Unlike Frankincense it isn’t sweet smelling but is bitter. It represents suffering. It’s there to remind us that everything is far from alright with the world.
Former number 7, Harry Kewell’s has got some Myrrh for baby Stevie.
Has there ever been a player who deserved the great number seven shirt less? Habitually and conveniently injured when the game was a bit tricky, Harry could almost make you lose your faith.
Baby Stevie needs to know that it’s not 1984 anymore and it can be quite traumatic being a Liverpool fan in the 21st century. We have our fair share of expensive luxury players who have little heart and haven’t stepped up to the plate. Players who’ll weakly limp off in a Champions League Final are unfortunately part and parcel of modern Liverpool.
But don’t cry baby Stevie because there’s always redemption at Liverpool. The tale of Vladimir Smicer’s contributions in Istanbul (who I liked), another former number 7, shows that even the most heavily criticised players can do something special and carve themselves a place in our history.
There may be suffering at Liverpool but there’s always hope, hope that something marvellous is just around the corner even when we’re having a mare. That’s what makes being a Liverpool fan so worthwhile.
Merry Christmas Baby Stevie. Merry Christmas to us all.