11 Aug 2009

Fernando Torres disagrees with Bill Shankly over Liverpool FC's priorities. Who is right?

Near the end of last season, Fernando Torres stated that winning the Champions League is more important than winning the league title. Sacrilege, surely? Whilst Torres is perfectly entitled to his opinion, such a belief is contrary to a long-standing principle of Liverpool FC’s philosophy.

In an interview in April 2009, Torres stated:

“Domestic titles are very important but to win the Champions League you are saying we are the best team in Europe. This club has a great record in the European Cup but now I want to be a part of that history”.

“Winning the European Championship was a great thing for me and I understood what it was to win a major trophy and what I had been missing.

“On the way home from the European Championship I made a promise that I wanted more of this success with Liverpool and it does not come any bigger than the European Cup”.

Whilst doing well in Europe is of course fantastic, it should never be forgotten that Liverpool’s imperious success and enduring legacy was underpinned by success in the league.

Bill Shankly said it best when he encapsulated Liverpool’s philosophy on the league vs. Europe debate:

“I would like to win the European Cup, naturally, because that’s the ultimate in Europe; but the main thing – our bread and butter – is this: [points to the league trophy]. That’s what we want to win all the time.

"Never mind Europe. It’s been a great thing for Liverpool and a great thing for the country, but this is our bread and butter, and this is the one we want”.

We seem to have lost sight of these principles over the last 10 or so years, with the Champions League seemingly taking precedence over the league at times.

Success in the league – i.e. being the best over 38 games - is, in my view, far more impressive than winning a cup competition. And as we all know, without success in the league, there is no possibility of playing in Europe.

Thankfully, it seems like the Rafa Benitez is finally starting to prioritise the league after (arguably) 4 years of putting success in Europe first.

It’s great that Torres has such ambition - and I do not for one moment question his hunger to win the league - but the Champions League should never become a higher priority than the league...should it?


  1. He (Torres) later said that the Premiership was his main priority...

  2. This is not balanced critical commentary. I cannot believe that one person can be responsible for so many ill  balanced, ill thought out and negative articles about liverpool. It is all very well saying that you do not support "blind faith" fandom, but you are the other end of the spectrum. Your articals blindly negative. Your recent article about Benitez wasting money on a player that has not played for the club yet, your statistical analysis of Gerrard and Torres alluding to the fact that team is better off without them. That is not challenging people to debate, that is just negativity for the sake of negativity. You may say why read your articles, but they are appearing in newsnow with the other "quality" blogs such as sports co in newsnow, and it makes it that bit harder to try and find news and fact as opposed to rummours and commentary on newsnow. If you are offended by my criticism of your work, I am basing it on what I have seen, not just throwing muck for the sake of it. If you want to categorise me and say that I am one of the blind fate fans, so be it. But be balanced. How about starting a debate with a question, instead of starting a debate by trying to be controversial. It is not challenging people, it is purley insulting the club that you purpor to support

  3. A misinterpretation I believe.  I didn't see him say the CL was a priority - he said it was the biggest thing you could win as a player.  He's said many times since the premiership is his priority. 

    I'm surprised this is a story so many months after it was originally misquoted.

  4. Get off your high horse already!  If you can't hack a different point of view then I suggest it is you with the problem, not me.  Anything I post that doesn't conform to some Liverpool fans' homogenised expectations is immediately labelled as negativity for the sake of it.  What perturbs you so much about criticism?  Should every fan just think the same thing?  

    I am not offended by your 'criticism'.  Criticise all you like; it is not going to make any difference to my approach. if you don't think this site is'quality' then that's your prerogative.  Makes no difference to me either way.

    And for the millionth time...I am under no obligation to present a balanced view.  Why should I?  This site is about opinion, and the very nature of opinion is that it is biased.  I do not try and hide this at all - like most people, I have my own specific view about things and that is what I present.

    I do not try and be controversial for the sake of it; the irony that you don't seem to appreciate is the things I post are not controversial at all; the controversy is projected onto my articles by people like you who have no tolerance for views that diverge from your own.

    Basically, get over it.  If you have something to add to the question of whether the CL is more important than the league then go ahead.  Any other comments along the lines of the above are irrelevent and will be deleted.

  5. How is this a misinterpretation?  Of course he says the CL is a priority or are you deliberately refusing to accept it?  Torres stated:

    <span style="color: #333333; font-style: italic;"><span style="font-weight: bold;">"Domestic titles are very important but to win the Champions League you are saying we are the best team in Europe...It does not come any bigger than the European Cup</span>”.</span>

    How is this a 'misquote'?  

    As I said, Torres is entitled to his own opinion; I just find it interesting.

  6. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/article6503128.ece

    “The rivalry with Manchester United is intense and the roof will come off at Anfield if we beat them to next year’s title. Obviously the Champions League means a lot to Liverpool, but the English title is the one everyone wants in our dressing room."

    From June 15th 2009

  7. Yes, that's great.  However, the comments I've highlighted were made two months before in April.  Clearly, someone had a word with Torres in the intervening time.  Or he's just extraordinarily fickle...

    Either way, the point is to address the question: id the league still Liverpool's 'bread and butter' or is that an outdated notion?

  8. Your torres quote was taken from the official site just before a big european tie v chelsea. It is no surprise then that the questions would have been centred around the european cup.

    Before the torres comments you posted it said - "while the Spain international would love to help us lift title number 19"

    So the article mentioned the league and his desire to win it then concentrated on the champs league.

    The later article someone else posted above was after we had finished 2nd in the league ,with torres saying how much he wanted to win it this season.

    Its not a case of someone having a word with torres or him being fickle.
    He took part in two different interviews discussing two different competitions -  champs league and premiership.

    All he did in each was say how big and important they were.

    <span><span style="font-style: italic;">" because that’s the ultimate in Europe"  - </span></span><span>taken from your shankly quote</span>

    even shankly says that it is the ultimate ie. that it doesnt come any bigger.
    So torres is, in one way, agreeing with shankly - saying there is nothing bigger in europe ( you are the best in europe). No surprise in an interview discussing the champs league.

    Whilst discussing the league I find it hard to use terms like bread and butter. This implies its our staple. That might have been the case when shankly made his statement but we cant really use terms like that until we have actually won it.

    thats not to say it isnt our main focus, I just feel thats the wrong way to phrase it. So in that way it is an outdated notion.

    Overall I see nothing really interesting in what he said other than he feels the champs league is really important whilst being interviewed about the champs league.

  9. <span style=" color: #3a3a3a; line-height: 16px;">I don't think it matters. I don't know when he said it, but it seems it was before a CL game, and then he said it subjectively. I don't really hold too much to what players say. If we go by that standard, then you'll think Gerrard actually gives a damn about England (and actually thinks playing for England is bigger than playing for Liverpool). I wouldn't hold too much to what Torres says. Its his performances on the pitch that matter, case in point, he was crap against Chelsea in the CL, but brilliant in the Premier League in that 2-0 win, where he scored the last minute goals. He's been immense in our PL campaigns, and it was seen by the fact that we went through a lean period with draws against Stoke, Wigan and Everton because of the absence of Torres. I'm sure if he was there in the side, we would've won 2 of those games.   
    Another reason may be the fact that he's from the continent, and not the UK like Shankly was, and the CL is a way to match yourself against the rest of Europe. He's grown up seeing Real Madrid and Barca as the teams to beat, and not Man U, Everton etc.   
    Finally, I think this season at least, ALL Liverpool players consider the PL more important, and 90%, if not more, of the fans do.</span>

  10. Ha!  Looks like the crowd has "shouted down" this post - not a great article really ... Plus the "<span style="">...should it?<span style="">" bit at the end of article was a bit wimpy for someone who is saying "this is my point of view" "this is what I think", ne c'est pas? :-P </span></span>

  11. Just to come back to my other post and Jamie's reply - I repeat - at no time does he mention the word 'priority.'  He states the CL is the biggest thing you can win with your club - he does not say it is his priority to win it.  That is your interpretation (again, this was months back so I don't even know why we are discussing this).  Not a negative article - just a strange one.

    And as Bikram said, he was being interviewed before a CL game and if it was before a big prem game I am sure he would have said things about the premiership.

    It's a strange choice of article.  I would have thought the fact that we have only spent money generated by sales would be more interesting, as is the fact that Anfield was named as a stadium in the Rugby world cup in 2013?  So, no new stadium then?

    And where is this £20M 'promised' to Rafa back in April/May?  More PR from Hicks and Co?

  12. Thanks for your comments.  With the new season just about to start, I think it's worthwhile examining players' priorities.  I think Torres' April comments are pretty unambiguous - he doesn't literally say 'the CL is more important than the PL' but that's wha he means.  People do not always say what they mean literally, do they?

    I take your and Bikram's point about the fact the comments were made before a CL game, but what real difference does that make?  Are you suggesting Torres deliberately changes his opinion about things depending on what game is coming up?!

    As far as I'm aware, the April comments were Torres' first public thoughts about the CL vs PL issue, and he clearly chose the CL.

    He may have changed his position since, but I personally believe that's because someone, somewhere along the line (probably a team-mate: Carra?) suggested that in public, he should say the league is more important.

    Torres' views match those of Benitez, who clearly prioritised the Cl for the first few years of his reign.  And generally, I think it's probably true to say that most overseas players would probably (privately) prefer to win the CL than the league.

    I only highlighted the issue because i find it interesting that a high profile player would (unwittingly) contradict one of LFC's most famous principles.  That sort of thing interests me.

    Re the other issues you mentioned - every Liverpool site on the net will be covering those issues, which means I don't need to at this stage.

  13. My oh my, here I am trying one more time to discuss in Liverpool Kop... But one may never learn... me, I mean...

    The European Cup is bigger than the Premier League, Seria A, La Liga and all the others. It does not mean it's more important. It's just bigger. It's EUROPEAN Cup. Champions in England opposed to champions in Europe. For us, now the Premier League is more important. But ask Abramovich or Slurm Alex what they think. So your quote is right, but your mind glasses, like usual, are a bit blurry.
    Never mind, moving on.

    Our teams in the past 20 years were never that good, or worse than others, at least. And to win a 38 game competition with a weaker team is harder, much harder, than to win a let's say, 20 game competition. So, because of that, we've been succesful in some cups but not in the PL. If Rafa had put all of his effort in the PL we'd still not won it, AND we would not have been the best team in Europe for the last 5 years. So, Rafa was basically right. Bulding a team to really compete in the PL like last year and this year, while having enormous success in the CL.

    The PL should be our Bread and Butter, but the CL is our caviar, mate. And I sure am hungry for some bread and butter, but the caviar is not bad at all...

    But I am wasting my time here, so... You may resume your charming and not-controversial-at-all ways...

  14. http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2009/apr/06/fernando-torres-liverpool-chelsea-champions-league

    3 days before the Chelsea Champions League tie @Anfield - Jaimie if you want to take his comments vs. Shankly - evaluate it on the context we had a massive tie with Chelsea 3 days after his article was released by the Guardian.

    The Premier League & Champions League are first and foremost Liverpool's aim at the start of every season, the FA Cup is important also.

  15. I still think you are wrong.  You are making an interpretation of his comments, so you are saying what you think he is saying.  And come on, you know how these things work - players 'big' things up for the tv coverage etc.

    It's a strange thing for you to dig up and I also have to disagree with the comments about Rafa prioritising the CL.  We had a much weaker squad and needed the cash from Europe - probably two reasons that make it seem like the CL was a priority.  In fact, it is even more so now with the Americans in charge.

    I just think you are trying to make something out of this that isn't there.  And as for your reluctance to cover the real pressing issues (funding, a new stadium) in favour of trying to make a story out of a comment made back in April, well I think that speaks for itself.  Critical realism?  Are you sure?

  16. You're perfectly entitled to think I'm wrong ;)

    By the same token, i think you're wrong.  Are you not simply interpreting what Torres is saying?  My view is strengthened by the fact that Torres actually says that the CL is more important than the PL, but if you wish to dispute unambiguous statements, that's your choice.

    Re what I choose to cover - anyone who visits this site regularly knows that I am very interested in things that conflict with what I perceive to be LFC's core principles.  This is one of those instances, so it makes perfect sense for me to raise this issue.

    There are plenty of sites out there that will cover the stadium/funding issues; I don't need to regurgitate the same stuff as them.  When I see a different angle to take on those issues that fits with my approach, then I'll write about them.

    if I was so negative (as some people delight in telling me) then I could use the funding/stadium issues to really stick the knife in.  But I don't, because there's no point, and it's not something I feel the need to explore.

  17. I am not sure why you don't want to explore important issues rather than trying to get at a player.  Are you working for Hicks and trying to engineer Torres a move?

    Look up 'reflexivity' in social research.  You may find it has some bearing on what you are saying.

  18. How is the article getting at Torres?  The way people try and twist what I write really is amazing. :-P

    The point of the article is to highlight the disparity between old and new LFC values.  This is obvious.

  19. Well, why do you think Rafa prioritized the CL for the first 3-4 years? Its because it was impossible to win the PL with the squad that he had. Last year we had a team that could challenge, and this year, again, so we will gie most importance to the PL. I think Benitez showed, in the Chelsea match itself, that the PL was our top priority by resting Gerrard and/or Torres, or at least not rushing them back from injury in our second leg tie. Plus, he has hardly rotated the top players - Gerrard, Torres, Kuyt, the two centre-backs etc. 

    And now before you criticize him for not building a PL winning squad soon, remember how long it took Ferguson to win the PL himself, and the fact that Wenger already had Bergkamp, the back four + goalie, a few other players, and complete control of the club before he came into Arsenal (he signed Vieira and Diem BEFORE he came to Arsenal, or something like that), and Mourinho had a great squad before he came to Chelsea. Rafa had Djimi Traore, Riise, Harry Kewell, Mellor, Diao, Pongolle etc. 

  20. Jaimie, I think you should stop writing.  And don't say, "Well, you don't have to read my blog" because I don't have to ignore everything I don't like.  It seems that all of your readers, along with myself, actively dislike your articles.  Read the comments.  How many people think what you write is valid?  Almost none.  But I'm probably just another idiot who doesn't understand what you're trying to say. 

  21. With regards to your request to 'stop writing', I shall have to respectfully decline ;)

    Whether people think what I write is valid or not makes no difference to me.  I don't write to gain peoples' approval or to be liked.

    Anyway, I think you'll find that comments are not the only gauge of whether people like this site or not.  500,000 people have visited this site so far, the majority of whom do not leave comments, so saying that 'all' the readers dislike the stuff on here is wildly inaccurate.

    If, as you say, you don't like this site, why visit?  Why waste your valuable time commenting?  Wasting time on something you dislike is kind of stupid, isn't it? Just a thought.

  22. When Shankly said of the European Cup 'It's the ultimate in Europe', I don't think he was saying it was the top competition in Europe, inclusive of all leagues;  I personally believe he meant that it was the top European competition, i.e. once you got to participate in European competition, that's the one you want. 

    I see what you're saying about the 'bread and butter' phrase, but Shankly said that in 1973, when Liverpool had just won the league for the first time in 7 years.  The league was hardly a staple then.

  23. You obviously don't like David Moyes, yet you "waste time" making a morphing avatar of him, no? Maybe now you see the sense in it.  You don't have to apologise.

  24. Actually, I do like David Moyes;  I think he's a very good manager.  And I didn't make the avatar, someone else did.  It's freely available on the net.  It's just a bit of fun to fuel the Liverpool/Everton rivalry.  I'm sure Moyes himself would find it funny.

  25. yes PL used to be our b&b but then we lost out substantially in the nineties after kenny left. To compete in PL is 38 games, CL 13 to win of which 3-5 games turn out very easy because of weak opposition or we got a substantial lead going into the 2 tie. SO effectively 6-8 odd games against tough opposition. PL is 6 games very tough.. 3 out of top 4 and then week in weekout play against wall like defending with 10 men, sometimes against team with quality in counter attack. So survive a CL campaing a squad of 15 or so is all thats needed, for PL use something like 24. If you want to compare which one was prioritized --- go and compare the top 24 players for pool and manure for last 10 years not the playing XI. they beat us hand down over 38 games because of that squad. today, we have 16 odd players up there with manu's and thus we challenge. A squad player is not always a replacement, yossi is required not cause Gerrard is injured he is needed when we need a player to dribble and run with the ball at oppsn. I think rafa has done really well over last 5 years... look at that top 24 list and the answer should be easy. the squad has improved. And in 145m to spend --- I think just torres, mascherano, alonso, kuyt, reira, pepe, yossi, skrtel and agger. If rafa puts them out today and ask for 145m he would get bids of much more than that. So for all rafa's failed transfer critics I say those failures came free of cost so why bother. In rafa we trust, even if all the world tells us otherwise -- you are not walking alone

  26. Agree with the post above.  We have had a large turnaround but we have had to work quickly, often in the bargain basement.  If a player hasn't worked out he has moved on.  Check back the last few seasons, the turnaround has been slower and our net spend is not so bad as we have recouped a lot of money.  I read somewhere last season, that Man City and Spurs have more expensive first teams than us - with that in mind we are punching well above our financial weight.  Congratulations to Rafa and much better than Jamie's choice of the sometimes tactically nieve Martin O'Neill. 

    I know our Jamie is a big fan of MO'N but surely he can see that consistently signing average English players and his bizzare tactics at Anfield last season show he would not be the man for Liverpool.  I remember Rafa's Valencia giving us a football lesson at Anfield, a match that apparently put him on David Moores wish list.

  27. Put your ego to a rest Jaimie.
    The reply by Brando puts your article in its place.
    Accept it and live with it. If you can advice others to accept your article and life with it, you should also be able to accept others when the point out what actually was/is.

    Don't stress yourself over silly matters. Life is beautiful, as it is.
    Cheers, mate.

  28. What are you on about? If I respond to posts now it's because of my alleged 'ego'? Yes, that makes sense.  

  29. He didn't say the European was his priority, he said he wanted to win it and be a part of the rich history this club has in Europe. You've completely misunderstood what the man has said. Besides, he's Spanish, so it shouldn't come as a huge shock that he wants to prove himself against the best of Spanish (and other European) teams, especially after such a frustrating time with Atletico.

  30. Hahaha. Isn't all about the ego? Why are you writing this articles for? "You" are trying to prove a point isn't it? And who is this "you"? It is your ego. Everything that you have build up since you have had your consciousness makes your ego. So you've got all the stuff that's made you and whenever this centre, from which you function is threatened, you build up a wall and become defensive.

    Seriously. If you can see through it, you'll cease playing this ridiculuos game of yours. 

    And if you are saying you have no ego, stop kidding yourself. That is what we all function for, for the comfort and fulfilment of the ego. And your need now is to prove that you are right no matter what. And that's what you are doing. It's so blatantly obvious.

    If you have no ego, you will not be concerned about all of this tiny little things. There is more important things to be concerned about. For example: peace, love and harmony for all.

    Remember, my friend, win or lose, it is as it is. Nobody can change that. Life is a spontaneous unfoldment, as it is, from moment to moment. Accept it and live it and you'll have peace, love and harmony. Move away from it's flow with your own agenda and you go through what you are going through now. Need I say more?


  31. Right, so everyone should just forget everything and never question anything all for the sale 'peace, love and harmony'?  Well, you continue living in your little bubble and the rest of us will see the world as it really is.

    Writing on this site is not about ego at all - it's more like therapy.  I have lots of thoughts about Liverpool in my head so I get them out on this site.  it's that simple.

  32. 'Criticise all you like; it is not going to make any difference to my approach'. So, do you believe that all criticism is pointless, or that the degree to which people are receptive to criticism should vary from individual to individual?

  33. I don't believe criticism is pointless - if it's levelled in the right way then it's fine.  In my case, I have no problem with people criticising me as long as it's done it in the right way, i.e. without insults/derogatory comments.

    And I agree - the degree to which people are receptive to criticism varies from person to person.

  34. That's great to hear. Here's something if it is worth enough to be considered:

    ~To be creative means to be in love with life. You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring a little more music to it, a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it. ~ Osho