The House That Fenway Built

The House That Fenway Built
January 14, 2016 Chris Rowland

By David C Jennings (TTT subscriber). 

A young committed anarchist once told me [that may be the first time we’ve ever run an article with that opening – Ed] “don’t believe what they tell you”. And whereas his overall approach to life was by my judgment quite unrealistic, the statement nevertheless stuck. Part of the ethos of The Tomkins Times is to challenge established thinking. Thought can be established on reality, perception or desire but once it gains a foothold it is written on and commentated about and it subsequently gains acceptance as legitimate, at least to some degree.

A simple example is the recent chatter concerning Liverpool’s goalkeeping situation. The sometimes maligned Simon Mignolet is identified as a potential weak link in the first team, leading to analysis on whether the club needs to make a change. This in turn produces motivated writers to suggest potential replacements and before you know it there are multiple stories that have us talking to Marc-Andre ter Stegen at Barcelona, Jack Butland at Stoke and many others.

Jurgen Klopp has denied this and that we are looking at goalkeepers at all. But in the Wild West that is Facebook and its Liverpool pages (currently I’m on 37 of them), and in the virtual viral anarchy that is Twitter, simple speculation turns to fact in just a few hours at most.

Back in secondary school as a wide-eyed tween turning teen, we had a Science teacher (and my form mistress) named Mrs. Smith. The said leader of 25 blossoming boys had a simple approach to every experiment we conducted. It had an aim, we conducted an experiment to test theory, we explained our method to confirm valid results, we stated the said results and subsequently we made a conclusion.

The theory (if that’s what you can gracefully call them) that I wanted to test was the idea that newly arrived players can produce instantaneous results, and connected to that, that the club has gone amiss from bringing forward academy stars into the first team. Additionally there is an observation every time Liverpool lose to a mid-table team that the identified star of the opponents’ show is some Eastern European player picked up for peanuts and why didn’t we get him? I mean what is Ian Ayre’s problem? (Both Facebook and Twitter are far less complimentary of Mr. Ayre). In testing the claims made on social media and beyond one can apply a similar approach to establishing truth that Mrs. Smith, Science teacher extraordinaire, taught all those years ago.

I decided to look at the key players in three Liverpool teams over the years. One is from yesteryear, the 1980-81 season when Liverpool triumphed in the European Cup and League Cup. The second is the core of the 2013-14 team that almost won the league title, while the third is the current team based on my assessment of what Klopp’s current first choice team would be if everyone (other than Sturridge) were available.

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