Au Revoir, Lord of the Manor of Frodsham!

cisse2.jpgThe protracted transfer saga of Djibril Cisse has finally come to an end. The French international, who joined Liverpool in the summer of 2004, has made the permanent move to Marseille after signing a five-year contract. The exact terms of the fee haven’t been announced, but it’s expected to be somewhere around £6 million. For weeks, there had been various reported interest from England and Spain, but the lure of Champions League football and a return home may have been a dealbreakers.

While his potential was never fully realized in a red shirt, he played with energy and I wish him well. Whether it was the sheer pace, the extensive body ink and ever-changing, eclectic hairstyles (or a combination of it all), I’ve always been oddly fond of Djibril despite his downsides.

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The seeds were sewn the summer before he arrived when Houllier was still wooing him. Looking back, it was obviously that Ged had a serious Player Crush on Cisse. (A Player Crush is a non-homosexual crush, a lot like a Man Crush, where the manager becomes absolutely smitten with a player and his abilites, blind to any faults or shortcomings)

Ged had been chasing his signature relentlessly for a year before it was even announced that Cisse would come to Liverpool… the following summer. So, for a full season, all we heard was how fast and strong this cat was, how he was lighting up France’s Ligue 1 (26 goals in 38 games) and the incredible impact he was going to have on the Premiership. Every few months, Auxerre fossil/manager Guy Roux would stoke the fire, by speaking glowingly about the player Liverpool were going to get.

I bought into all the hype; Hook, line and sinker.

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That next summer, Houllier was fired. But, Cisse’s £14 million transfer had already been lined up and still went through. The Frenchman arrived as the most expensive Liverpool player ever bought. Problem was, new manager Rafael Benitez hadn’t been around for any of the brain-washing hype. One gets the sense that he was never keen on Cisse and would have preferred to spent the £14m on players of his choosing.

Djibril never really got going at Anfield, only showing flashes of the promised brilliance, often a result of his blazing speed. It wasn’t but a few months into career, during an October match at Blackburn, when he suffered a nasty double fracture of his left leg. Cisse would later credit the medical staff for saving his leg with their quick response and actually returned to action later that season, in April, as a substitute against Juventus.

Djibril played in nine more games that season, finishing with four league goals and one in the Champions League. He ended up making the bench for the CL Final against Milan and even converted a penalty that night, capping an incredible comeback from a devastating injury.

cisse9.jpg I suppose a lot of the reason I’ve been partial to the Frenchman is due to the fact that he has battled back TWICE from nightmare injuries. It’s one thing to make it back on the pitch after a double fracture in one leg. But, to have to repeat the same fate after snapping the other leg in much the same fashion, only a year and a half later? Many players wouldn’t have made it.

All due credit to the medical professionals and backroom training staff who played a massive role in his rehabilitation, but I admire the fact that Cisse has fought his way back onto the pitch in both instances. It’s this sort of desire and mental toughness I want to see at Liverpool, and although he may not have ended up performing exactly how we’d hoped he would, I’ll always root for Djibril.

Not that it was all roses. As his frustration with Rafa’s use (or misuse) of his talents grew, so did the frequency of his on-field pouting and scowling. There were also incidents of assault, one with his pregnant wife and another with an autograph-seeking 15-year old. Quite simply, there is no defending these type of actions and it’s always unpleasant to hear about them. It becomes even more uncomfortable when it’s somebody you want to root for; It tends to leave a sour taste where a sweetness was once enjoyed.

He did, however, get married in Liverpool red tux.

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In his second season at Anfield, Cisse’s output was substantially better. Although he often found himself played out-of-position on the right flank, as opposed to up top, he managed to notch 19 goals for the campaign. Nine of those were in the league, 2 in the FA Cup (including a spectactular finish in the Final) and eight in Europe.

We can’t forget Cisse’s FA Cup Final goal versus West Ham:

Unfortunately, mere weeks later, in France’s run-up to the 2006 World Cup, Cisse would endure yet another double fracture, this time on the right leg.

My apologies if you’re weak of heart or stomach….

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The injury wasn’t enough to end his playing  career, but it did bring an end to his time at Liverpool. Olympique Marseille had been sniffing around the unsettled Cisse for months, and the Frenchman wasn’t happy with Rafa. Everything was in place for a move back home on loan for the upcoming season. Shockingly, the French club stuck by the player and the loan deal after the injury and Djibril did his rehab in France.

Djib returned to the field in December of 2006 and ended the season with fourteen goals in 23 appearances, including four in the final seven league games and two in the French Cup Final. Now, he continues his career back in his homeland and the league he once dominated.

Despite the love-hate relationship they may have developed between Djibril and a large section of Liverpool fans, I wish him the best of luck in the future and thank him for the memories.

I leave you with an enjoyable five-minute video of Cisse from the excellent ‘100 Players Who Shook the Kop’ series.

Au Revoir!

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4 Responses to “Au Revoir, Lord of the Manor of Frodsham!”


  1. 1 nate July 9, 2007 at 7:06 pm

    So there is something we disagree on…

    I was in the same boat as you when Cisse first came to the club; with the prolonged arrival, the club record fee and all the hype, he certainly seemed the business. And throughout his career, he said all the right things and genuinely seemed to appreciate both the club and fans. Like you, I was awed by his first comeback from a horrific leg break to score twice against Villa in the last game of the league and in the shootout against Milan. And the second recovery showed just how mentally tough and physically impressive Djibril can be. I really did want to like him. But in the end, that wasn’t enough.

    I soon lost patience with him in 05-06 despite those 19 goals. I’ll always remember and appreciate the FA Cup final goal and him pretty much single-handedly winning the Super Cup, but he just frustrated me so much. Yeah, strikers need to be selfish, but he was selfish to a fault, and didn’t have the game intelligence to back it up. All too often he seemed to run down blind alleys, misread other players’ intentions and drift in and out of games. He turned into a player I wasn’t fond of, but more importantly, he was obviously not a Benitez-style player.

    I think that the 19 goals are a misleading stat as well. LFCHistory.net has an excellent record of his strikes that season, and if you look which teams he scored them against and when he scored them, it becomes a bit less impressive. And he had some spectacular misses too. The game against United where Ferdinand scored the winner late on after a couple of bad misses throughout by Cisse still sticks out in my mind.

    I do wish him all the best at Marseille, given he’s out of the Premier League and was far better in Ligue 1, but I’m glad Liverpool’s rid of him as well. Cisse was always a Houllier player. His transfer kept £14m out of Benitez’s coffers, and for the next couple of seasons, we heard how Liverpool was a few million from signing Alves or Simao and that Moores had to take out a personal loan for Kuyt. And it’s not £14m, but £6m is still worth more to me than Cisse returning for Liverpool, which is depressing but true I reckon.

    Wow, sorry that was long.

  2. 2 beingsven July 9, 2007 at 7:44 pm

    #1. As a former girlfriend once told me, ‘Don’t apologize for length’. HA! Not true, but seriously… the longer and more thought-out, the better.

    #2. It’s not to say I never lost patience with him or that he didn’t frustrate, because that simply wouldn’t be true. But, because of the cascade of ill will against him, I chose to highlight my positive feelings toward Djib. (Not to suggest you are doing the opposite)

    #3. I agree with quality of the goals scored, but somebody has to score them against the crap teams as well. But, obviously, nobody will say Cisse was a Big Game Player.

    That said, strikers miss goals. Strikers miss a lot of goals, in fact. Whether they be prolific scorers (Owen) or not so prolific (Heskey), it happens to the lot of them. Just think of all the misses Henry had, especially in his earlier years (but, no, I’m not comparing Henry and Cisse). Point taken, though.

    #4. Glad to see you like LFCHistory.net as well. I saw it on your blogroll last week after I referenced it in a post of mine (because I never really knew the proper name until that post, I just had ‘that Liverpool stat site’ bookmarked).

    #5. £6 mil isn’t a great return, but between that and the money to come from Bellamy, we’ll have made up a significant portion of the Torres fee. So, at least we’ve got that going for us. Which is nice.

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