Brendan Rodgers' 5 Most Telling Quotes This Season at Liverpool
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has been at the club almost a full season now, and while he has impressed plenty of onlookers with his brand of football and generally improving results, he hasn't always quite made the same good impression in front of the cameras.
Whether talking about his infamous "three envelopes" or mixing metaphors, Rodgers has sometimes given more soundbites than might be ideal.
He has, though, had plenty more to his press conference game than mere cliches, if one cares to listen closely enough.
Here are his five most insightful and telling quotes of the season which might give clues as to the direction Liverpool are headed with Rodgers at the helm.
Cooking for Success
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I always say a squad is like a good meal – I’m not a great cook but a good meal takes a wee bit of time, but also to offer a good meal you need good ingredients.
Rodgers has had some serious rebuilding to do in his debut campaign as Reds boss.
Not just bringing players in to the squad, but shifting out plenty of high earners, losing players who were already set on a move before his arrival, juggling around a few loans and, crucially, getting maximum value out of those who had underperformed recently.
He has come in not as a supporter, who has been watching avidly from the outside for years, but as a manager of another club. It was, therefore, always going to take time for him to form his own opinions, see who could be improved and add to the team in the right areas.
There have been setbacks, and will be more no doubt, but Liverpool are progressing and the squad now contains arguably more quality and certainly more value for money than it did a year ago.
The Kids Are All Right
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So if a young player is going to overtake these sort of players not only do they have to have the talent they have to have the attitude. Because it’s no point saying, ‘I’ll show you what I’m like if I can get 15-20 minutes on the pitch.’ You have to show me what you’re like every single day of your life. To fight for the shirt. Not just if you’re going to get 15 minutes on a Saturday or a Sunday or a Thursday.
Here, Rodgers is talking about the size of the task facing youngsters. Not only do they have to be excellent technically, tactically and mentally, at the very top of their age group, but they also have to be better than established internationals ahead of them already at Liverpool.
Previously we might have seen instances of Liverpool youngsters complaining about their lack of time on the pitch, or wondering why they were performing well in the reserves but not getting a shot at the first team.
Rodgers will play them—if they deserve it. He's proved that this season, and every single one of the kids at the Anfield academy, from Under-9s to Under-21s, should be able to see it. They have to put the effort in, every day, every training session.
The rewards are there to be gained.
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I’ve got to be honest, I never watched it. It was already in place before I came in so there was no choice in it. I’m very private in my work, and even more so outside of it. It was something I didn’t watch, and thankfully it’s over.
The behind-the-scenes documentary Being: Liverpool aired after the start of the season in the UK and the US, and split opinion amongst fans over its validity, usefulness and cringe-factor.
Brendan Rodgers, as first-team manager, featured prominently in the in-house moments of action as well as in interview time. He appeared open and honest, perhaps too much so at times, and it is clear that most players and staff would have preferred not to have had to put up with it, especially in the dressing room before matches.
Even if he didn't like it, Rodgers was professional enough to still do his job at an important time—and perhaps it is reassuring to some fans that he didn't bother wasting any time over the end product.
Tell It Like It Is
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We just weren't very good. It was as simple as that. If you start a game the way we started it then it is very difficult at this level to get back.
Honesty is important, and though there are times when you must put a positive spin on a defeat, when it is glaringly obvious that Liverpool have been way below their level and soundly beaten by an opponent... Well, let's just say there's little point in calling a derby-day defeat "utopia."
Liverpool were, quite frankly, rather rubbish against Southampton in their most recent Premier League outing.
Brendan Rodgers didn't try to cover it up or give it an embellished sheen. He called the players out on the performance, and will expect far better next time out.
The Suarez and Sturridge Conundrum
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For Daniel, his best spot will be straight through the middle with his pace. His best position is as a central striker. I have said 4-3-3 will become richer because of the type of players we have. There is not one way to play 4-3-3. You can play one up, a floating No9 like Luis Suarez, with two wingers; you can have one like Daniel Sturridge central, two players in and around him narrow and with full-backs bombing on. The principles of your game are based on your players.
I spoke with Luis at length about it a number of times. This has been the plan for a few months. When he played at Ajax he played in behind as a No10, in between the lines, and he played as a reverse winger from the left side. So he wasn’t quite out wide; he was tucked in round the corner.
One of the biggest talking points remaining about the Liverpool team is how to fit in the biggest attacking talents that are now in the squad.
Suarez excelled as the false nine centrally pre-January, while Sturridge has looked excellent there at times since then. Coutinho has started wonderfully well on the left, but the midfield looks unbalanced when just two central players are holding the deeper positions behind all three of those players, with Stewart Downing on the right.
Rodgers' team rebuilding is not yet complete, and the summer should hold further insights into the direction Liverpool's attack takes.
Somehow the boss has to figure out how to get both Suarez and Sturridge into the team, without sacrificing quality and workrate in the middle, and by the looks of things, squeezing Coutinho in there too.
The principles of your game might be based on your players, but the boss is in charge of which players are brought in during the summer—and that in turn will determine how strong and flexible Liverpool are next season.