Rodgers is out and Klopp is in. I guess it’s not enough to provide streams of pompous piffle to the men from the press; you have to act eccentrically and have a cool name as well.
Just think of the fun we’re all going to have sifting through those headlines. It rhymes with Kop, top and flop. Even with drop and chop, if things should become especially perilous. It’s practically a gift from God.
I seem to have been writing Brendan Rodgers’ eulogy since May, so much so that when the axe finally fell the predominant feeling was one of boredom and burnout. Not this again… To be brutally frank, he never really seemed like the right man. The dumping of Kenny Dalglish, though entirely understandable for any big club that felt it could do a lot more, was executed badly and left a sour taste for anyone over 40.
The new boy arrived with a 180-page dossier and the Luddites bristled immediately, growling audibly; “oh, one of those are you?” Some fans think dribbling round traffic cones is an arty-farty foreign indulgence, so imagine what they made of Brendan’s Three Envelopes routine. Many dismissive missives were written, presumably from inkwells via candlelight.
An ill-timed fly on the wall documentary called Being Liverpool further sealed his fate among many. If Liverpool was meant to be anything, it wasn’t this badly-acted poison for the cornucopias. In decades to come it will feature in programmes talking about how awful television was way back when. The sound of his own voice seemed to make him orgasmic.
Lack of humility marks anyone. Hubris parks its car right outside the door and waits patiently, and it didn’t have to wait long for Brendan to fall flat on his face and draw uncannily fair comparisons to Ricky Gervais’ character from The Office.
Then came Sturridge, then came wins, then came a rise up the table. Liverpool were better, there was no denying it. Damn them… That’s a joke, in case anyone was wondering. This was good stuff and season 2013-14 was even better. True, we had less clean sheets than Lady Gaga (that joke used to be Madonna’s) but it didn’t matter. We were dazzling. The 20-minute blitz of Arsenal is set to remain part of Anfield folklore, no matter how the season eventually panned out.
And you can’t take any of that away from Brendan. At Liverpool we’re supposed to say “second is nowhere” but that season will be remembered for a long, long time. Rightly so.
It became a noose around Rodgers’ neck though, and thus Liverpool’s. It was all becoming reminiscent of the emperor’s new clothes, where all Liverpool fans had convinced themselves of Brendan’s finery; “Yes, this year’s football looks like something scraped off the kitchen floor after the dog’s been at it, but this is Brendan, Architect of 2014 — this masticated mess surely cannot last”.
Well, it could and it did. Stoke 6 Liverpool 1 was the equivalent moment of the innocent child standing up and telling the whole world that Rodgers was in the nip.
He shouldn’t have survived it. There was too much talk by now about interfering transfer committees without ever questioning why a man who nearly won the league should bow and scrape to his bosses so obsequiously. It put him right back at square one, back with Three Envelopes Brendan, “Death By Football” Brendan. Our death it seemed, most weeks.
What sort of manager allows himself to be saddled with a load of players he didn’t actually want? What sort of man, in fact? One that was just happy to be called the manager of Liverpool whatever it takes, and all of his detractors from 2012 went back to hating his guts.
The alternative? He actually thought those players were good and then surreptitiously let it be understood they had little to do with him, which if anything would be worse.
This stuff stays secret so we can’t ever really know the full truth. I suspect Brendan’s book will come out in years to come, portraying Anfield as a madhouse in which patients and inmates were interchangeable. Nobody will doubt a word of it.
Speaking of asylums, Jurgen Klopp already seems a bit nuts. Good. That saves us the effort of having to push him over the edge. Initially we’ll love him to bits but then the results will probably turn us into a seething red mass of paranoid ineptitude. So what else is new?
He’s been the architect of some exciting teams built from almost nothing which is probably why Liverpool’s owners chased him. Who doesn’t love a bargain?
And if anyone has the right to turn on the Kop and tell them they’ve been phoning it in for all these years, then it’s the coach who stood staring at Dortmund’s Yellow Wall every week. Liverpool fans were once the template for such fanaticism, now you’d get less peace in church and more songs too.
Everybody’s got to up their game now. Suspicion of these owners has been merited but with the new stand going up, hundreds of millions of pounds already spent on players and a world-class manager in thrall to the club’s romantic past and desperate to drag it forward into the present, it will be an absolute scandal if this opportunity is wasted.
If anything it’s Klopp who has placed his vote of confidence in us, not the other way around. No one swaggers quite like a Liverpool fan, but we’ve been coasting on Big European Night memories for far too long.
The big-shots will try to get him the players he wants, if they haven’t already (there’s talk Firmino was nothing to do with Rodgers). The current squad has helped see off a manager that for all his flaws and foibles seemed a decent enough man. They’ve got to buck their own ideas up now because that big deflection Brendan isn’t going to be hiding you any more.
The fans also need to remember that football should be fun and act accordingly. Make a bloody racket, what harm’s it gonna do?
It’s yet another Year Zero for Liverpool. Maybe it is going to turn out just like all the others but today it feels different somehow.
If we’re going down, let’s go down swinging. Every single one of us.
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