Thirty-three words, but so much significance. And, to place it bluntly, the form of robust, forthright management that Liverpool’s house owners can solely dream of proper now.
It began a little bit after 9pm on Tuesday evening. One publish, then one other, then one other. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson, Virgil van Dijk, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane.
All of them.
Each publish was the identical, its blood crimson background accentuating the phrases which carried such weight, such significance.
“We don’t like it and we don’t want it to happen,” they read. “This is our collective position. Our commitment to this football club and its supporters is absolute and unconditional.
“You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
A few hours later, their club finally spoke. Shortly before 11pm, a statement landed on Liverpool’s official website, confirming that they had “discontinued” their involvement in proposed plans to kind a European Super League (ESL).
At the same time, Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham followed suit. Manchester City had withdrawn earlier in the day, after Chelsea had confirmed they were preparing to exit.
And with that, the most controversial idea in European football’s recent history was squashed, dead in the water.
Well, for now no less than, anyway.
It brings to an end a frenzied 48 hours of talks and briefings, of statements and suggestions, protests and concern. We’ll remember April 2021 alright; a time when football was at war, when the ‘Dirty Dozen’ threatened to tip the domestic, European and international game upside down.
But we’ll additionally keep in mind the heroes of the piece, those that acted with integrity and braveness, who spoke up when it could have been straightforward to sit down in silence and who helped force these clubs, these behemoths, into this most public, most embarrassing of climbdowns.
What is it they say; the power of the people is greater than the people in power?
We have witnessed the power of football’s people this week alright. Its players and its supporters have stood tall. At Liverpool, the backlash was both impressive and immediate.
The membership introduced its intention to affix the Super League simply earlier than midnight on Sunday, and within hours its supporters had begun to mobilise. Spion Kop 1906, a distinguished Reds fan group, introduced they’d be eradicating their iconic flags and banners from inside Anfield.
“We feel we can no longer give our support to a club which puts financial greed above the integrity of the game,” they posted.
Spirit of Shankly, the Liverpool supporters’ union, said they were “appalled” by their club’s involvement, labelling the plans “embarrassing”, “shocking” and “shameless”. At Anfield, some fans hung banners on the gates of the Kop, protesting against the proposed Super League.
On Monday afternoon, Liverpool’s players left their hotel in Leeds city centre and headed out for a short walk, part of their pre-match routine for all away games.
During it, they were confronted by a handful of supporters, who hurled insults. They were called “greedy b*stards” and told to “f*ck off to the Super League”.
This continued when the squad arrived at Elland Road for that night’s Premier League conflict, the group coach greeted by a bunch of greater than 100 fans, some of whom unfurled a banner which learn ‘RIP Liverpool – Thanks for the memories’.
In the dressing room, workers discovered T-shirts bearing the slogan ‘Football is for the fans’ on the again and ‘Earn it’ on the entrance, along with the UEFA Champions League emblem. Leeds’ players wore them whereas warming up, whereas outdoors the floor a saxophonist performed the Abba music ‘Money, Money, Money’ on loop as the recreation acquired underway.
Afterwards came the first signs that Klopp and his players were prepared to push back against the club’s plans. Klopp advised Sky Sports his opinion on a Super League, first said again in 2019, had not modified, that he was in opposition to the concept and that he had not been consulted previous to the story rising the earlier day.
In his publish-match press convention, he sought to guard his players, whom he felt had been unfairly focused, and insisted he wouldn’t resign as supervisor regardless of his reservations. FSG, he stated, have been “serious people, reasonable people, who care”, although he did say, pointedly, that “there will be a moment for sure when our owners say what they have to say”.
Then came the players. Milner, unsurprisingly, was the one selected for post-match media duties at Elland Road. “The only one who could be trusted to speak properly,” stated one supply, and he most definitely did.
“I don’t like it and I don’t want it to happen,” the 35-year-old said, a precursor to the social media posts which would follow on Tuesday.
Tuesday was a day of recovery at Liverpool, but the mood at the club’s Kirkby training ground was tense, and not just because of the points dropped in Yorkshire the previous evening.
The senior players, led by Henderson and Milner, but also Gini Wijnaldum and the influential Van Dijk, spoke regularly throughout the day.
Henderson also contacted the captains of the 19 other Premier League clubs, including those at Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham, to organise a Zoom call for Wednesday, in which players could discuss their feelings on the matter and, more pertinently, formulate their response.
Henderson has taken on that role before. It was he, along with others such as Mark Noble of West Ham, Watford’s Troy Deeney and Manchester United’s Harry Maguire, who took the lead in organising the #PlayersTogether charitable fund last April, which ensured vital funds were distributed to NHS charities during the coronavirus pandemic.
Henderson’s position in that initiative, one supply says, was “immense” and definitely received’t be forgotten. “He was brilliant,” stated Wolves skipper Conor Coady.
The identical goes for his work right here. Liverpool’s players have been just about unanimous of their opposition to the Super League, and it was their captain, who’s at present recovering from a groin operation, who led the approach with the co-ordinated statements on Tuesday – though the wording definitely felt like a nod to Milner’s feedback the earlier evening.
And certain sufficient, the home of playing cards quickly got here falling down.
Football golf equipment, and soccer membership house owners, could also be laborious-nosed, however they know when a battle is past them. And when you might have the fans in opposition to you and the players in opposition to you, you’re preventing a dropping one.
Manchester City went first, then Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester United and Liverpool late in the day. The relaxation of the Super League followers have now began to offer in. They all will, finally. They don’t have any different selection.
John W. Henry, Liverpool’s principal proprietor, lastly apologised on Wednesday morning. “I’ve let you down,” he stated, in a two-and-a-half minute video message from Boston. It was the first time the membership’s possession had spoken out.
In truth, we had heard extra from Joel Glazer than Henry on the Reds’ official web site as much as that time. Work that one out.
We know what the players and the supporters assume. They advised us, loud and clear.
So here is to you, Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Jurgen Klopp, Spirit of Shankly, Spion Kop 1906.
Here’s to you Jamie Carragher, Gary Neville, Sir Kenny Dalglish, Everton Football Club, Fulham Football Club, Robbie Fowler, Ander Herrera, Marcus Rashford, Patrick Bamford, Pep Guardiola, Joao Cancelo, Bruno Fernandes, Luke Shaw and all those that spoke out in opposition to this.
Without them, the Super League 12 might very properly have gotten away with it. It doesn’t bear excited about, does it?