So Liverpool is the mystery club supporting Sheffield United's bid to remain in the Premier League? Interesting. I guess we know what Rick Parry's been up to for the last week or so.
Questioned as to whether Parry's appearance as a witness was due to Liverpool's signing of Javier Mascherano from West Ham, McCabe added: "Not particularly. Rick is an experienced football guy. He's a good witness."
This quote the BBC is running from Sheffield chairman Kevin McCabe doesn’t really give any insight into Liverpool’s participation, so I feel more than free to baselessly speculate.
So is Liverpool involved in this because of intimate knowledge of the Tevez and Mascherano transfers, thanks to the signing of Mascherano, or because of ulterior motives? Is Liverpool supporting Sheffield’s case, and by default promoting West Ham’s relegation, in order to have a better chance at securing the services of one Carlos Tevez? Is Parry et al really that clever?
Ah, summer speculation. Good for the heart and soul.
Personally, I'm a bit conflicted over the whole arbitration matter, discounting Liverpool’s entrance into the mire.
I want to like West Ham. It goes back to 2003 and living in London. Upton Park was one of two grounds I was lucky enough to see Premier League matches at, and Liverpool against the Hammers was the first Liverpool game I saw in person. And, admittedly, I developed somewhat of a soft spot for them.
It had little to do with the match at Upton Park (Liverpool won 3-0 if you're wondering), and more to do with the fact I had no desire to see West Ham relegated. Much like this season, the Hammers underperformed with a vast amount of talent on the roster. It pains me to say, especially given the team he's on now, but I was a big fan of Joe Cole at the time, as well as appreciating Jermain Defoe, Michael Carrick, and the rest of the young English talent on the roster. And Glenn Roeder’s aneurysm during the season (and so soon after Houllier’s health problems) brought a sympathy factor along with it. With West Ham’s history, fan base, and squad, it seemed unbelievable they'd be relegated. And when they were, I never lost that soft spot.
I was glad to see them come back up for 2005-06. And I enjoyed the job Pardew did in getting them to 9th place and the FA Cup Final. My soft spot certainly would have diminished had West Ham held on for a fluky victory. But they didn't, the game was etched into Liverpool folklore, and both West Ham’s squad and fans did their club proud that day.
This season has been a bit different. The unseemliness of Kia Joorabchian and the Tevez/Mascherano situation, Magnusson's takeover, Pardew's firing, Curbishley's hiring and signings, and the team's inability to function as a unit until sometime in March all made the heart less fond of the East Londoners. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Even as of the end of the season, I still had preferred the Hammers staying up over Sheffield, mainly thanks to being fed up with Neil Warnock’s mouth, but I couldn’t claim any real desire to see West Ham succeed.
I was fairly certain this arbitration would be a formality, sealing Sheffield's fate and confirming West Ham's stay in the Premiership. Maybe it's solely because of Liverpool's participation, but the fact of the matter is I'm not so sure anymore.
Seeing how Magnusson’s thrown exorbitant amounts of money around like he’s surrounded by strippers, even more so than in January, isn’t doing more to endear West Ham to the neutrals, and Sheffield looks a lot better with Warnock gone, despite the job he did for them. If I’m being utterly fair, and I honestly don’t know if I can be, I still can’t decide who has better merits to stay up.
I want to like West Ham. I do. I’ve wanted them to do well (as long it has no impact on Liverpool, obviously), whereas I’ve never cared much for Sheffield United. But West Ham is in the wrong. Points deductions are the precedent if one goes by decisions in the lower leagues. I can’t see the league reversing the decision now, after the season’s over, and I fear what would happen if they did (it’d be one hell of a payday for the lawyers). But honestly, maybe they should.
We’ll know tomorrow.