Liverpool Football Club last week unveiled their new away kit for the upcoming 2013/14 season featuring the most bizarre of torso designs, typifying the way the club has been mismanaged over the last few years.
Designed by American manufacturer Warrior, the new away shirt features diamond-shaped designs on the area just below the Standard Chartered shirt sponsor, which Warrior claim have been included using the Reds' 1989-91 away shirt—worn by legends such as Ian Rush and John Barnes—as inspiration.
Liverpool's agreement with Warrior began at the start of the 2012/13 season, and their debut kit designs caused controversy amongst fans when the club crest featuring two justice flames—honouring the victims of the Hillsborough disaster—was replaced by the traditional Liver Bird design of the '70s and '80s.
The decision to relocate the flames to the back of the shirt without consulting the victims' families was described as "insensitive" by the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, via Ben Smith of BBC.
These design flaws—there is also talk of a purple and black third kit—are just the latest "head-scratchers" in what appears to be a never-ending line of misguidance within the Anfield club.
The club that was once admired and praised for going about its business the right way, the Liverpool way, are in danger of becoming a laughing stock, in danger of losing the respect that people like Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley worked their socks off to earn.
I know what you're thinking. It's just a kit. If Liverpool win the league, who cares?
But it's more than that.
Liverpool have been misguided for years. Just how many, though?
Read on to view some of the prime examples of mismanagement at Anfield in recent times.
In the summer of 1998, Liverpool made the bizarre decision to install Gerard Houllier as co-manager alongside then-Reds boss Roy Evans. At the time, it raised eyebrows, and rightly so.
Liverpool at the time were doing reasonably well. They were far from the Liverpool of old, but the ill-fated Graeme Souness era was a thing of the past. Under Evans, Liverpool were always challenging at the top end of the table and playing some very attractive football.
In Evans' last three seasons as sole manager, he guided the team to third, fourth and third again.
So how could co-management ever possibly work?
Two managers picking the team, shouting instructions, identifying transfer targets. It was doomed from the start. The decision was amateurish, a desperate, "will do anything it takes" attempt to wrestle back the league title that was 18 times theirs.
The partnership lasted four months before the inevitable happened.
Evans resigned—he was gone, and the Boot Room era was over.
Liverpool finished seventh.
In 1997, Liverpool unearthed a gem—a 17-year-old wonderkid born to score goals.
For seven or eight years, Michael Owen had the world at his feet. He was the No. 1 striker for both club and country, but as he reached his late 20s, he was ravaged by injury, one after another. Owen himself believes that could have been avoided had his fitness and recovery been better managed during the early days of his career.
Owen cites medical negligence as the reason for his poor fitness record throughout his career. Liverpool's failure to nurture and rehabilitate him the correct way following serious injury and for playing him when he was not fully fit.
So how did the mismanagement of Owen damage Liverpool as a club?
Firstly, one of the club's best-ever goalscorers struggled to complete a full season without some form of serious injury limiting his appearances and in turn hampering the Reds' goal threat.
At the turn of the century, Liverpool looked well placed to mount a serious title challenge, yet to do so they needed their "main man." Hamstring injury after hamstring injury followed. Owen never reached 20 league goals in a season, and Liverpool's wait for a Premier League title went on.
Perhaps one of the most frustrating examples of mismanagement and misguidance within the Anfield club is the stadium saga.
For well over a decade, the club has toyed with the idea of leaving Anfield and building a super arena just yards away in Stanley Park, even submitting plans to the city council in 2007.
It has never come to fruition, and as well as the proposed project costing the Reds over £50m in planning costs, it has left them well behind Manchester United and Arsenal in terms of generating much-needed revenue. Revenue that could have boosted Liverpool's transfer kitty.
Former co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett promised "a spade in the ground within sixty days" upon their takeover of the club in 2007, via Dominic King of Daily Mail. By October 2008, there were no developments, and the whole project was on hold.
Six years on from the arrival of Hicks and Gillett, and now under the ownership of John W. Henry, managing director Ian Ayre has revealed that the club are hoping to submit planning permission before the start of the new season to redevelop Anfield.
Whilst the Reds have somewhat fallen by the wayside both on and off the pitch in recent years, others around them have prospered in terms of both performance and generating significant income.
A bigger stadium for a club the size of Liverpool is a must, and this time around the fans need more than empty promises from the management. It's about time those "spades were in the ground."
Upon Luis Suarez being found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra in late 2011.
Somebody inside the Liverpool camp made the error of all errors in advising the players and staff to wear t-shirts in support of Suarez before a league game with Wigan Athletic.
The players took to the warm-up, displaying messages of support for the man who had just been given an eight-match ban and fined £40,000. Kenny Dalglish stood brazenly before the media in support of the man he believed had been harshly treated.
From then on, Dalglish's days were numbered. He had made a complete error of judgement, and a big one at that. Despite Liverpool's poor league form that season and Dalglish's lavish spending on transfer flops, many believe—despite denial from Dalglish, himself—that that cold December night at the JJB Stadium was a big nail in the Scotsman's coffin.
This was Liverpool, a club proud of its history and global appeal to people of all skin colours and creeds. A club that showed love to John Barnes in the late '80s and early '90s when he was racially abused by not just opposition fans, but his own England fans.
Those now infamous t-shirts went against everything the club stood for. If they believed Suarez was innocent, they should have stayed quiet and appealed the decision—that's what the Liverpool of old would have done.
Supporting Suarez and then taking the decision not to appeal the ban was nothing but suicide.
Whoever advised the players and management to take to the pitch wearing those t-shirts are to blame for damaging the reputation of a club that had a history of not washing its dirty linen in public, a club that dealt with issues behind closed doors.
It was a reputation damaged and in need of repair.
During his second spell in charge of Liverpool, Kenny Dalglish spent in excess of £100m in an effort to fire Liverpool back into the UEFA Champions League.
In his attempts to add some much-needed quality to his Liverpool side—Luis Suarez and Jose Enrique aside—he failed miserably.
In paying £35m for Andy Carroll, £20m for Stewart Downing, £16m for Jordan Henderson and signing Charlie Adam for an undisclosed fee, Dalglish added more mediocrity to his already mediocre side.
The less said about the £7m fee paid for Sebastian Coates, the better.
Downing and Henderson have both improved since Dalglish's departure, but not enough to justify their mammoth fees, whilst Carroll and Adam were both deemed surplus to requirements by Brendan Rodgers.
Craig Bellamy proved to be an astute piece of business but was signed on a free transfer as opposed to paying a fee.
Things haven't whole-heartedly changed under Rodgers. Inflated transfer fees were paid for both Joe Allen (£15m) and Fabio Borini (£10m), and in the same transfer window, the Reds refused to pay the £7m fee required to land 23-goal Clint Dempsey from Fulham.
Mismanagement at its best.
Given Liverpool's recent willingness to pay over the odds for players unproven at the top end of the Premier League, they are in real danger of following Manchester City down the road of being quoted ridiculous fees when enquiring about potential signings.
It isn't just under Dalglish and Rodgers that the Reds have been foolish in the transfer market, however. In the summer of 2009, Rafa Benitez replaced £3.5m Alvaro Arbeloa with £18m Glen Johnson. Now on his day, Johnson is arguably one of Liverpool's most gifted players, but £15m more gifted than Arbeloa? Simply not!
Whether it be players, managers, owners or managing directors, at a club the size of Liverpool steeped in success, history and tradition, make a mistake and there is simply nowhere to hide no matter how much success you may have brought to the club previously.
Just ask Kenny Dalglish!