Siberian Soapbox

I am told of a rare species of football fan that is not permanently miserable. They exist in the indefinable abyss of ignorance and joy that eludes normal human beings. Hunting in rabid packs of snarling companions in the murkiest depths of society, their vision is poor. Often they wear glasses that block out all common sense and logic.

Legend has it these mythical creatures need only the slightest glimpse of another endangered species to eviscerate all forlorn despair. This second breed, the shining saviour of the sheep, is known as the club legend.

Attacking club legends are we, Soapbox? Well no, not exactly. That would be faintly silly, by definition. There is a mawkish reverence for legends that makes me uncomfortable if I’m honest, but that’s not the problem. It the clingy obsession with everything they do even when they’ve gone that gets on my nerves.

Rangers rollercoaster

By now, every man, woman and child still stalking the animal kingdom will have seen the Rangers post-match press conference with two grating scouse accents. Sorry, but scouse just doesn’t do it for me. Anyway, one of the squeaky utterances emanated from the gob of one Mr. S. Gerrard.

The new manager is having a topsy-turvy time of it north of the border. Successfully negotiating a lengthy Europa League qualification process was an impressive start. Steeling his men to hold out in deep, dark Russia with nine men was a genuine achievement. Rising above Celtic at one point was always going to go down well. Since then, however, performances have dipped alarmingly, and Stevie hasn’t been a happy bunny.

Previous threats to overhaul the deadwood had been picked up by the media. Nothing particularly surprising in that. Any manager worth his salt would lambast poor performances if the players weren’t pulling their weight.

Press conference reaction

After a drab 1-1 draw at home to Kilmarnock, Scouse No.2 (aka Jordan Rossiter) was asked in the post-match press conference if Gerrard’s stern warning served as motivation. Before our eardrums were further lacerated by Rossiter’s godawful twang, his manager piped up. “I’ll answer that,” he said, as if his player didn’t even exist. He repeated a sensible point about the need for standards and accountability. Rangers is a massive club, and these players must either pull their weight or they’ll be replaced.

Oh dear. All hell broke loose on the famously level-headed Liverpool social media universe. Gerrin, la! That were boss, cracking stuff Stevie you legend! Fuck Klopp, get Stevie in charge now! OK, that last one was an exaggeration. You could easily have been forgiven for thinking that the crown jewels were being sent to Liverpool to await Gerrard’s coronation at Anfield.

Even the supposedly objective mainstream media fell head over heels in love with Gerrard. Henry Winter tweeted his take:

He’s hard as nails and decisive? I’m sorry were we watching the same press conference? What he said was spot on, but the manner in which he cut in front of his player seemed odd. The predictable leap to Gerrard’s defence ensued, with claims of his actions showing class and protecting his player. From what exactly?

Gerrard protection

There you have a young lad who grew through the ranks at Liverpool. He’s been a youngster watching an icon up close. Of all players at Rangers, he can appreciate that his manager’s drive and determination is real. The journalist’s question was about as softball as they come. He handed Rossiter a chance to support his manager on a silver platter. No, Super Stevie swoops in majestically to save the day.

Gerrard may well turn out to be good manager. He understands the sport well, is polite but focused, and rightly commands respect. This performance is not a signal of why this may turn out to be true. He showed he couldn’t trust his player to not say something that might tarnish his methodology behind the scenes. If he protected anyone, it was himself.

Let’s fight fair a moment. He’s a young manager unaccustomed to handling this situation, not as a player. If he chooses to not trust his player, that’s his call: no big deal. But those prowling hyenas who lapped up the interruption as a sign of divine providence, Jesus…