IN THE future, at an unde-termined time and place, an impeccably dressed Portuguese man will settle down with his grandchildren around him.
They’ll ask: “What did you do with your life, grandad?”
He’ll give them a warm, knowing smile, and, understandably, they’ll be absolutely petrified because, even when he’s smiling, he still looks like he’s a part of the One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest cast. Especially when he’s smiling, in fact.
Then, he’ll sigh contentedly as he considers his list of achievements.
Win four consecutive titles at Porto? Check.
Win a PFA Fans’ Player of the Year award whilst at Liverpool? (Yes, this did happen). Check.
Receive a Champions League and FA Cup winner’s medal playing for Chelsea? Check.
Feature on the Portuguese version of Lip Sync Battle? (Of course). Check.
Raul Meireles was always… unique. His career, fittingly, was unique.
After moving from Boavista to Porto in 2004, Meireles established himself as a renowned centre-mid, deployed as both a defensive and attacking midfielder. Winning consecutive league titles with Porto meant that he was always on the European scene.
His move to a struggling Liverpool side in 2010 captured much of his own persona: Liverpool were a very unusual club at that time, and Meireles was a very unusual bloke.
With a passion for tattoos, in which he competed in the ‘Ink Championship’ with Liverpool teammates Daniel Agger (whose ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ tattoo endears him to Liverpool fans to this day) and Martin Skrtel, and a shaved head, Meireles already had the makings of a hipster version of Vikings’ Ragnar Lothbrok. This look was cemented during his Fenerbahce days, as he opted to grow out his signature bushy beard.
It was under Roy Hodgson that Meireles played for Liverpool – a management that, from its inception, was destined for failure. Hodgson, in fairness, cannot be blamed entirely for the calamitous start to the season. Plagued with massive debt, the 2010-11 season was chaotic on and off the field for the club and marked the end of an era.
At long last, the ownership of Tom Hicks and George Gillett, who developed a reputation comparable to Margaret Thatcher in the city of Liverpool, came to an end. The subsequent takeover from Fenway Sports Group didn’t work out too badly, though, so swings and roundabouts I suppose.
If there was any confirmation needed that 2010-11 was Liverpool’s ultimate banter season, one must simply look at the transfer window. Not only did the summer window provide proof that Liverpool were very much on the decline, but cemented the belief that Hodgson, despite his commendable job at Fulham, was not the man for the job.
The announcements of Paul Konchesky, Christian Poulsen, Milan Jovanovic and an ageing Joe Cole were met with consternation from the Liverpool faithful, as the club seemingly prepared for a relegation battle, whilst Javier Mascherano headed to Barcelona.
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