Alan Hansen, obviously distressed at our form, said the club was in danger of becoming a 'relic'. I had to ask people what the word meant, but I could tell from the tone of his voice that it wasn't a compliment.
I'm currently reading Jamie Carragher's autobiography, and a decent read it is too. Particularly interesting are Carragher's analysis of the Houllier years:
Illness cruelly deprived him of the sharp judgement that had led to swift early progress, but for three years he was a great Liverpool manager...I owe much of my success to him.
Nevertheless, Carragher provides some insight into Houllier's sometimes baffling judgement. Carragher played as a centre-back during the 1998-99 season, and acquitted himself extremely well. However, after one poor performance against Man. Utd the next season, "any faith Houllier had in me as a centre-back was gone for good...I still find the haste with which Houllier changed his mind about my best position puzzling...I spent the next couple of years fighting for a place at left- and right-back...I had few complaints at first because...it was a formality [Hyppia] and Stephane [Henchoz] would form a new partnership. But in later years when there were injuries or suspensions, I still wasn't considered a centre-back. Houllier would select Salif Diao, Igor Biscan or Djimi Traore ahead of me in the position, and just before he left the club he wanted to buy Jean-Alain Boumsong, and then Philippe Mexes from Auxerre, to play alongside Biscan. Phil Thompson would plead with Houllier to give me a chance back in the middle, but he was stubborn right until the last month of his reign, claiming I was a couple of inches too short for the role."
Elsewhere, Carragher recounts the general astonishment, and downright dejection, when the players learnt that Benitez had selected Kewell to play up front in the 2005 Champions League Final, pushing Gerrard back into central midfield, and dropping Hamann from the starting line-up: "'Harry is playing as a striker,' [said Gerrard], his voice almost quivering with disbelief."
But finally, I loved Carragher's recollection of the rendition given to You'll Never Walk Alone, as he walked out of the tunnel to begin the second-half of that famous game, 3-0 down:
It wasn't the usual version of our anthem though. There are different moments when The Kop summons Gerry Marsden's classic. Before every home game it's a deafening rallying cry, as if to inspire us to perform and frighten our opponents into submission. If we're winning in the closing stages of a huge match, it will be sung again, this time in celebration. But there are other occasions the words of the song have greater meaning, and at half-time in Istanbul the fans were singing it in sympathy more than belief. There was a slow, sad sound to it, almost as if it were being sung as a hymn.
And we all know what happened next...