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After last year's endless calamities, most were hopeful that the club would move forward in a more positive light, with the hiring of Jen Chang supposedly signaling a change in direction. After today, we're rethinking all sides of that assumption.
Even the most vociferous defenders of Luis Suarez and Liverpool have to acknowledge that the handling of the club's affairs last season was farcical at best; player and club were both embroiled in one mess after another, and at one point it was hard to tell what was more embarrassing--the original mess, or the manner in which the PR department at Liverpool were handling it.
So the hiring of Jen Chang, a former world football editor at Sports Illustrated, was welcomed with open arms, as he seemed a sharp and classy man, one that had his finger on the pulse of what was actually going on in reality. He'd been invested in Liverpool's fortunes publicly prior to the hiring, and afterwards many expected that he would, at the least, straighten the ship when it came to Liverpool's public image. It'd be hard to gauge his work to this point, but if the measure of success when it comes to a club's public image is no complete catastrophes--especially compared to last season--then you'd have to say his time with Liverpool has been productive.
At least until today. Over the past year, folks on Twitter and beyond have become familiar with a caricature of a semi-literate in-the-know that went by the name Duncan Jenkins. That it was a creation seemed clear enough, but what made it confounding was the seemingly accurate team sheet and transfer target information that leaked on a regular basis. ITK's were everywhere, but this was one with Liverpool leanings and reliable information, and he often had something accurate to report before journalists or others in the media.
This didn't go so well with Liverpool, apparently, and the man behind Duncan Jenkins has today written a lengthy post detailing the harassment and threats he received from Chang after the Director of Communications made contact over the summer:
He told me that if I didn't tweet as requested by Thursday night, and/or that further checks with their suspected mole revealed links to me, that he would hand over all of my info (from the dossier compiled by the people hired to find me) to the embittered journalists and ask them to do their worst, to run smear stories on me in the tabloid press. He said "they will make your life hell, and will turn all Liverpool supporters against you. The papers will say you cost the club you claim to love serious money, that you wilfully damaged the club."
"You know how crazy football fans are", he said, "You'll have dog shit coming through your letterbox, you'll have to take your Facebook page down, you might even have to move house".
Whether or not the account of events is entirely accurate, it's a compelling story (seriously, read the entire thing, it's embarrassed goosebumps for a good twenty minutes straight), and one that once again paints the club in a further negative, bungling and bumbing light. Dossiers on parody Twitter accounts. Threats of Anfield bans for life. Driving a relative's business into the ground. These are the things that Liverpool's Director of Communications spends his time on. And, subsequently, what we're spending our time on.
Maybe Liverpool just need to take a hiatus from everything for awhile--Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, whatever. They've once again proven that they can't get out of their own way when it comes to portraying themselves in a light that's something other than comically incompetent. And, once again, we're left shaking our heads, waiting for a time when they can turn things around for good.
**Edit: Important to note that there's nothing yet to substantiate reports of Chang's behavior at the current time. When there is we'll run whatever it might be and, if it proves to be wildly untrue, will gladly rescind much of what's written above. Except the last year was a calamity part. Because that unquestionably was. And the "they should take a break from everything part." Unless it's the new MySpace because ZOMG**