Brendan Rodgers: 4 Things We've Learned from Being: Liverpool
BEING: Liverpool is a behind-the-scenes documentary being shown on FOX which gives viewers an insight into the goings-on of Liverpool Football Club—starting with this past summer, leading into the beginning of this season.
The show is obviously a PR exercise for Liverpool and while it does show a lot of footage football fans would never have access to, it's not a fly-on-the-wall, warts-and-all type production like HBO's fantastic Hard Knocks series. Then again, it was never going to be, given the station that is broadcasting it.
The show gives viewers a chance to see some of the thinking behind Brendan Rodgers' footballing philosophy as well as a chance to see both manager and players in their home environment, surrounded by their families.
Obviously, seeing Steven Gerrard sitting in his mansion, with his white piano, is not something that's really going to interest many people because we've seen it before. However, seeing Lucas Leiva, Seb Coates and Luis Suarez sitting with their families playing monopoly does give an interesting insight into just how normal many professional players are.
The main focus of the show has been Rodgers, both in home and work environments, and I thought I'd take a look at four things people will have learned about Rodgers from watching the show.
Obviously, some of these things will already have been known to those who looked into Rodgers when he was appointed, but to the casual fan—who may not have been very aware of him before his appointment—these may have been surprising things to learn.
Dedicated Family Man
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Brendan Rodgers is married to Susan and the couple have two children, a 19-year-old son named Anton and a 16-year-old daughter named Mischa.
In episode one, we see Rodgers in his new home with his wife, daughter and extended family. It's a rare opportunity to see him away from a dugout or training pitch and shows a different side to him.
Rodgers has been with Susan since his teens and remains devoted to her. She's not some trophy wife that he picked up after he had attained a bit of fame, this is a woman he met when he was still a boy and settled down with.
Rodgers describes his wife as a "patient woman" who has followed him wherever he has moved throughout his career, but she has not done it blindly. They have made decisions as a couple based on what is best for them and their children.
When Rodgers took the Liverpool job, he mentioned that he talked it over with his wife and children. They had been very happy living in South Wales, before deciding to make the move. He did not simply want to uproot them for his own gain.
It's clear Rodgers is a driven, ambitious man who wants to make his mark at the height of the game but we have learned that he will not get there at the expense of his family. That's a show of integrity, a quality many football managers seem to lack.
A Humble Man
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After taking the Liverpool job, Brendan Rodgers was given a club car—a Porsche, no less. He also purchased a large home for himself and his family.
Craig Burley, former professional footballer and current "pundit" for ESPN, took it upon himself to attack Rodgers for having these luxuries in his life with a recent hatchet job for the Daily Record. The article was removed a few days after being published, possibly after Paul Tomkins put Burley in his place. Thankfully, Tomkins quotes the article in a number of spots. Here are some of Burley's thoughts:
“Rodgers emerged from the driver’s seat of a car that should have belonged to an American rap star. He lives in a house that you’d expect JR Ewing to reside in. Rodgers must remember it’s Southport he lives in and not Southfork.”
First and foremost, as I mentioned, this is a car provided by the club. Would Burley perhaps prefer Rodgers be given a 1997 Honda Civic to get around in? Rodgers himself is quick to point out how lucky he is to have such a car, stating he's very "fortunate" and feels "blessed."
As far as the house goes, it's not an overly decorative piece of real estate. Sure, it's a large house but the interior is nothing out of the ordinary. Comparing it to something from Dallas is as comical as Burley's attempts at passes over 10 yards during his career.
There are no airs or graces about Rodgers. This is a man who appreciates everything he has because he has earned it. He speaks of being born with the silver shovel, rather than the silver spoon; meaning that he was brought up with an appreciation for hard work.
A Teacher of Footballing Philosophy
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You train dogs, you educate football players.
These were Brendan Rodgers' words on his first day in charge of Liverpool Football Club and watching him work on the training pitches of North America and Melwood you get a clear understanding of what he means.
Brendan Rodgers is first and foremost a coach. Before he is anything else he is a man on a training pitch, coaching others in something he loves. You get a clear view of his love for coaching while watching the show, and you are left knowing that if he wasn't a professional coach he would be at a local park, coaching a Sunday-league team.
Rodgers speaks softly and slowly but his words carry weight and he's not afraid to put players in their place if he feels it is necessary. He goes to great lengths to explain what he wants and expects of the players in both group and one-to-one settings.
Last season Liverpool played a lot of stupid football. That is to say that the players made poor decisions on a consistent basis. This season, that is not the case. The players are more intelligent in their use of the ball as well as their decision making. This is the Rodgers effect.
Optimist, but a Realist
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By his own admittance, Brendan Rodgers likes to focus on the positives and keep the negatives in perspective. This is part of his methodology, but he does not shirk the truth when he feels it is needed.
Rodgers has great ambition and believes this group of players are capable of great things. He also understands the size of the task he faces having taken over from Kenny Dalglish. Rodgers was quick to dampen expectations among both the fans and the players, but he remains positive while doing so.
It's a refreshing change of pace from what Liverpool have experienced over the last three seasons. Rafa Benitez had seen his plans destroyed by cancerous owners and was at war with them for most of his final season in charge. As a result, the fans began to revolt against the ownership and disharmony was rife.
Roy Hodgson didn't so much dampen expectations as deny their existence. A 2-0 defeat to Everton was seen as a good performance, losing at home to Northampton in the League Cup was acceptable as he deduced that Northampton were "formidable opposition".
And so on and so forth. Hodgson had no idea what he was doing at such a big club and thought that his small time tactics and mentality would translate. They didn't.
And then there was Kenny Dalglish.
Expectations spiraled out of control as Liverpool produced an excellent second half to 2010/11 and then spent a lot of money on new players. Dalglish didn't help things by proclaiming that the Reds could win the League that season but many fans truly did lose the run of themselves.
For some, fourth would have actually been failure. Despite the fact that it would have taken something truly special for Liverpool to finish fourth while relying on players like Andy Carroll, Stewart Downing and Jay Spearing.
Rodgers has made it clear there are going to be good days and bad days, happy days and sad days. There is no quick-fix available to Liverpool unless the owners are willing to bankroll another spending spree like they did for Dalglish and Damien Comolli. At the same time, the future is clearly bright and with hard work and patience Liverpool can get back to where they want to be.
Rodgers has spoken at length about the journey the club are now on and what it will take to complete that journey. It's obvious he wants to bring great success to the club, it's just as obvious that he knows that will take a couple of years.
He's willing to put the work in, now he needs the fans to back him.