One of the legacies of Liverpool’s many successes of the 1970s and 1980s came to be described as the ‘Liverpool Way’. It encapsulated not just how football was played on the pitch, but also how the club conducted its internal politics and external relations with other clubs. On a very practical basis, this meant that potential transfer targets were not discussed and the contribution of all players to the squad’s successes was equally praised.
With the appointments of Gerard Houiller, Rafa Benitez and Roy Hodgson as manager of Liverpool football club, the ‘Liverpool Way’ became both an alluring cathcphrase and an albatross around their necks. To conduct one’s transfer business quietly was almost impossible after the explosion of blogging, constant news feeds and the onset of social networking sites that meant the footballing world never slept. Agents too became more powerful and players (it could be argued) cared less for the badge and more for their wallet. Rafa Benitez’s reign became an embarrassing charade towards the end, punctuated by constant board bickerings, which were played out for all the world’s media and rival fans to rejoice in.
Sometimes the public airing of laundry was quite successful. Among the more memorable of Rafa’s press conferences was Rafa’s rant against Sir Alex Ferguson. At the time Liverpool were top of the league after demolishing Newcastle 5-1. It was his first press conference since Steven Gerrard was arrested for assaulting a DJ and held over night by the police. Rafa’s rant cleverly turned the media’s attention off Gerrard and on to the seemingly “cracking up” Liverpool manager. Despite his efforts, the ploy failed as the team stuttered through the rest of the winter. Nonetheless, Rafa spared Gerrard of further unwanted media attention.