Football people on TV: Brendan Rodgers

Date published: Friday 22nd January 2016 9:28

Fashion police
Turned up on the Sunday sofa looking like a dad trying to be a bit sporty on a weekend, in a navy zippy-up woolly top, worn with a white shirt underneath. A collar never works with a zip, Brendan. Has being in a dressing room with Daniel Sturridge taught you nothing about fashion?

Other pictures of him reveal a man with something of an understated fashion sense. Likes the older gentleman’s expensive designer fashions. Loves a tight cardi. Teeth so white even the visually impaired can see them. Hair cut always looks a size too small and his tan has an unusual French mustard spread on a medium-rare steak colour to it. Features look rounded, like they’ve had any harsh edges sanded off.

On Monday, for his outing wearing the analyst’s shoes, he appeared in regulation pundit clothes. In other words, looking like a man dressed for an expensive funeral in blacks, greys and whites, doubtless bought from an expensive independent menswear retailer in Chester. Has done well to keep the weight off, but still looks like he’s made out of bollards and couldn’t even be knocked over by a runaway snow plough.


Lingo bingo
You’ve got to say first and foremost that Brendan has a very distinctive voice. No-one sounds like him. He doesn’t even really sound typical of a Norn Iron chap, his tone being far more velvety than the norm. In fact, at times, he was so quiet and his intonation so soft that it felt like being drowned in a bath of Lenor. If he had begun to purr like a chunky cat falling asleep in front of a roaring fire, it would not have been surprising. It was easy to imagine that he’d be very good at reading bedtime stories to children, as they’d surely be asleep within seconds.

Was quick to pull out his greatest hits, so both outings saw plenty of use of his go-to adjectives “outstanding” and “tremendous” along with a few people with ‘“great character”.

But, as has ever been the case with Brendan, he seemed to use a lot of words to say not much. It put me in mind of this quote from him a year or so ago: “The nature of the methodology here and how I develop players, it’s about the individual for me. The needs of the individual and that goes into the collective. What happens through our work is that players and individuals improve. When you improve as a collective then you get the gains from that.”

At first it seems thoughtful and quite deep. It uses the language of analysis and yet, when you deconstruct it, some of it is actually meaningless and the rest of it is a long-winded way to state the obvious – that making players better improves the team. And that’s not some original insight or philosophy that he’s developed, it’s simply what every manager tries to do. He is seriously telling us that the club gets ‘gains’ from improving. That is so very Brendan.

Throughout Sunday’s gig, there was an understandable defensiveness about getting the sack at Liverpool, that occasionally teetered into denial, all wrapped up in lengthy expositions and self-justification.


Hits and misses
Was surprisingly low-key on both occasions. In a way, that was a bit of a hit because it was nice to have break from one of the roister doister, leg-squeezer-geezers that so often occupy the Sunday sofa. Having someone look at a game with Jamie Carragher with a very contrasting style could have been interesting.

But the low-keyishness became so low, that at times, he seemed almost crushingly sad. Perhaps this is not at all surprising when considering recent events in his private life. These things take their toll on even the strongest person. I felt that, at times, he spoke as though his mind was 25% elsewhere, which is often the case when you’re really worried about something.

Consequently, Carra, being far more experienced in this sort of broadcasting, in expressing ideas cogently and with a bit of energy, ended up dominating him, a bit like when the lead guitarist in a band turns it up so loud you can’t hear the singer.

At times it felt as though the ex-defender was thinking at double speed to Brendan. This has led some to observe that Brendan was bluffing it and actually couldn’t really pick apart the action with any incisive authority. Certainly, when it came to looking at the tactics of successful defending, he came off second best to the player he once managed. But then football knowledge and broadcasting are two talents that only rarely intersect and in Carragher he’s up against one of the finest who work at this peculiar coalface.

There was a nice bit of rapport between the two of them, though, in the way there often is between two old warhorses who have fought some tough campaigns together. And he was able to stick the knife into the Liverpool transfer committee a little – though somewhat unconvincingly. As ever with Brendan, much of what he said, if you were not paying full attention, sounded quite good, but on closer inspection was a bit weak.

Monday night wasn’t a resounding success for the BRodger brand, all things considered, despite being rather compulsive viewing. Yet one thing remains clear: Rodgers is a significant, unique figure in British football. He is a concept as much as an individual


Big club bias
Well, yes, if only because big clubs tend to be both outstanding and tremendous and have great character.


Loved or loathed
It should be impossible to loathe Brendan. Indeed, it would be wrong on every level. This doesn’t mean that he’s loved, either. He’s an odd fish, sometimes warm and amusing, other times distant and comically pretentious. In the same way a rich person who behaves strangely is called eccentric and a poor person who acts likewise merely mad, Brendan is one of those people who, if successful, would be called a maverick genius, but when unsuccessful, is just a bit odd.

My social media research reveals polarized views on him like few others. Some see him as a self-aggrandising buffoon and the sort of man that thick people think is clever. Others enjoyed him, liked him and saw him as thoughtful, insightful and interesting. I reckon this is a sign of someone of significance.


Proper Football Man
Brendan will not be knocking at the over-sized door of the PFM’s mock Tudor house on a nice estate. He will not be filling out his application form and, in the traditional style, handing it over at Sandbach services, along with a brown paper bag of money.

This will not be any disappointment to the PFMs because there’s nothing they dislike more than someone who either is, or would like to be thought of as, intellectual, especially if they will not accept The Professor as a nickname. They also detest self-improvement books because it shows weakness and they already think they’re bloody top notch.

However, they liked the fact he had a picture of himself on his wall, though all thought it should have had the word Boss written underneath, because obvious statements, self-regard and overbearing ego is crucial to any PFM’s psyche. Also, a troubled private life is one of the badges of honour that every PFM polishes with pride along with their unjust divorce settlement and the ability to turn over a Range Rover in a ditch on the A666. So Brendan was in with a chance of being accepted into their sulphurous cabal.

However, impenetrable vocabulary and accent is only accepted if you’re Scottish. Plus being from Carnlough is confusing. How is Ireland Northern. Clive? It’s not near Newcastle is it, Jeff? Also took over from Kenny and that, in the PFM handbook, should be illegal. It’s up there with not playing the golf and Twitter.

Brendan’s alleged 102-house property portfolio sounds suspiciously successful and PFMs don’t like that, preferring glorious failure due to being cheated or let down by the chairman, a foreigner, or their wives, in order to feed their sense of chippy paranoia. All PFMs prefer wealth to be derived from the traditional sources of sucking up to rich people and from fees, preferably to paid to your son, who is also your agent and placed in a trust fund on the Cayman Islands.

Basic King Edward shape means Brendan effortlessly passes the Not Like Olivier Giroud (NLOG) metrosexual test, but he fails the PFM nightlife exam. Seems more likely to be papped coming out of a library at 4.27pm clutching a self-help book than coming out of The Calmer Suture at 4.27am with the former Miss Potato Farl and Assorted Extruded Processed Potato Products Body of 1980.

However the stocky build suggests a man who could certainly handle a good dousing with Reidy’s new Cilit Bang and tequila worm wine, delivered through a high-pressure car washer. But getting up to no good with a shopping trolley beside a canal on the edge of a post-industrial northern town, having a non-brewed condiment squirting fight with Dean Saunders in a chip shop, or throwing TC, wrapped in clingfilm, over a house, would hold no interest for a high-brow man like Brendan. He would certainly prefer watching a documentary on the Discovery Channel about Uri Geller or memorizing quotes from Freakanomics, the Bhagavad Gita and The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever, take a bow, son, c’mon Keysie, we’re off to drink vodka mixed with our own sweat, out of one of Dion’s ex-girlfriend’s bras.


Beyond the lighted stage
Has met the Queen in the course of diabetes charity work. Whether he said she was outstanding, and then advised her on the nature of elitist power structures and suggested a Buddhist chant to release the ego and free the mind from attachment in order to de-connect from pain cannot be confirmed, but seems likely.

John Nicholson

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