Many of my non-British readers won’t know who Neil Warnock is, or won’t even be bothered about football (Americans, read: soccer), but please don’t click the X on the browser just yet!
Here’s the background: Liverpool FC in the last two years have gotten very far in the UEFA Champions League competition.Last season we got to the final, (we won it in 2005!) and we are in the semi-finals again this season.This is actually the only silverware we’re competing for at this stage of the season, which means our league games are relatively unimportant in comparison.As a result, the Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez decided to rest several of his key players for Saturday’s game against Fulham, as the semi-final first leg against Chelsea is as close as Tuesday night.
Fulham are battling relegation, which means that the outcome of our game against Fulham is not only important to them, but other teams trying to avoid relegation too.The other teams down there would be hoping Liverpool beat Fulham and “do them a favour”.
None of which is, or should be, a concern to Liverpool.Right?Not according to the bitter cynical irrational rantings of Yorkshireman Neil Warnock.His gripe?Last season, Liverpool also fielded a ‘weakened’ team against Fulham, who actually beat Liverpool and eventually avoided the drop.Warnock’s team, Sheffield United, got relegated.
Here’s what Warnock had to say just before this weekend’s game:
“My advice to Reading, Bolton and the rest would be, if you’re expecting any favours, don’t hold your breath.They will have to do it themselves.”
Yes, and what’s your point?
“The fact of the matter is that if Liverpool were already out of the Champions League and needed to win to get fourth spot, they would play their strongest side.”
Yes, but again, what’s your point?Liverpool are in fact NOT out of the Champions League and don’t need to win to get fourth spot, so they don’t need to play their strongest side.So far, so obvious.
“Instead, I fully expect them to play a weakened team at Fulham.”
As did most people in the country.
“It’s part of a big club’s mentality. They look after themselves and they don’t bother about anyone else.”
Isn’t this part of EVERY sports team’s mentality??Which sports team doesn’t think about just itself?
If you’re a professional sportsman and you have guilt about the knock-on effect of a game YOU WIN, you’re in the wrong business!
“The whole story that Sheffield United were going down and me having a pop at them afterwards was just treated like fish and chip paper by them. Liverpool didn’t care because they weren’t the ones getting hurt by it all.”
Well, actually Neil, Liverpool probably didn’t care because no one cares about your small-time poxy little opinions.
Of course, what Warnock fails to mention is that if Fulham would have ended up getting relegated, they would have gotten hurt.Maybe Liverpool were thinking about Fulham and didn’t want to hurt them by relegating them??
“Integrity, doing what is right for the game, comes way down Rafa’s list of priorities.”
Notice the false dichotomy: doing what is right for the game (whatever that means!) versus doing what is best for Liverpool.
What Warnock doesn’t realise (because he’s an idiot and because he doesn’t know what he’s talking about) is that doing what is ‘right for the game’ is precisely doing whatever is right for Liverpool!The only thing Liverpool should be concerned about is doing what is best for themselves.What is good for “the game” is open competition where clubs are free to play the players they want against any opposition they want.
What kind of a warped mentality could suggest that a sports team (or any business for that matter) should be interested in the wellbeing of its rivals?!
All that aside, Warnock’s Sheffield United had 38 games to amass enough points to avoid relegation.They didn’t. Boo hoo.That’s football.Warnock also forgets the last game of the season, when his team LOST to Wigan Athletic.A win would have kept them up, but they lost. Boo hoo.
What does Warnock expect: that a more successful club somehow has a responsibility to not act in its best interest in case another club could possibly incur an advantage/disadvantage as a result??What if all clubs did this?The bigger clubs would go into games actively looking to not win where possible, after all, who wants to “hurt” another club by beating them?!Pathetic.
As always with this kind of sacrificial mentality, it’s the successful clubs that are to be penalised because they are successful; the clubs with the biggest squads should be forced to play their best teams in EVERY game in Warnock’s opinion.Why?Because they have the biggest and best squads.In other words, the better you are, the more you should be penalised and held accountable for taking advantage of your superiority!
But what about Sheffield United and other small clubs?Why doesn’t anyone talk about them pulling their finger out and wining more games?!
Liverpool did go on to lose in the final last year, but imagine if we would have fielded a full strength team against Fulham.Maybe Rafa would have said: “if only I could have rested my key players at Fulham to avoid tiredness/injury etc, perhaps we would have won the final.”People would have laughed at him probably, and Warnock wouldn’t have had anything to say.
But when a team like Warnock’s has 38 games to get enough points and then complain because Liverpool acted in their best interest, he gets his obnoxious face all over the TV and in the papers.
What is wrong with this mentality?In a word: altruism.Basically, the pathetic notion that acting in someone else’s interest OVER your own is somehow virtuous, more moral, nobler, for the “greater good”.Well, that’s nonsense.Ever club must act in its own self-interest, regardless of the effects on other clubs: play whatever team you want; play however you want.At the end of the day, you will stand or fall based on how successful YOU are – not how other clubs are!
The only people who don’t want to play by this fair and healthily competitive rule are the ones who are afraid; the ones who have something to lose by a fair fight; the ones who seek the unearned; the ones who can’t actually achieve success themselves but beg others to do the work for them; the ones who aren’t actually good enough to stand on their own merit.In other words, people like Neil Warnock.