IT’S “Year Zero” so we’re told. The tag to some extent absolves those who run Liverpool Football Club from harsh judgement as we’re encouraged to ‘give them time’, and ‘let them learn from their mistakes’, and other such notions.
Give them time. Have patience. Get behind the project and let the whole thing grow.
I have to say, those things are exactly what I’ve been begging for from those who run the club for the best part of a decade now – like a broken record – so in principle, I’m 100% behind the notion of “Year Zero” and the supposed patience and support that accompanies it. (Oh that our former managers could have been extended the same courtesy eh?)
But the rhetoric has to be backed in reality.
What also comes with an ownership-led “Year Zero”, of course, is the notion that the new manager is their man. If the courtesy of Year Zero style privileges couldn’t be extended to his predecessors, it’s certain they’ll be extended to the new guy, isn’t it? Well, that’s the theory. But I’m worried.
Remember in Tom and Jerry when Jerry would appear and the cook (or whoever) would jump on a chair in fright and start leathering the kitchen floor with a broom in a vain attempt to flatten the little varmint? Well, to me, thus far that’s FSG’s standard response to unfavourable PR. Jump on a chair and blindly flail around while never quite hitting the target.
I mean no disrespect to the club’s media and PR staff – I’ve been privileged to deal with a few of them and they’ve been a pleasure without exception. But ultimately they do what they’re told. And what they’re told isn’t always, in my view, what’s most sensible.
Year Zero involves fostering patience and tolerance while the new man – their man – beds in his methods, habituates the footballing mode of play, and gently asserts his authority (or tries to). So why on God’s earth, right at this point, would any owner committed to that “Year Zero” context open that new man up to any form of criticism?
The UK premiere of “Being: Liverpool” premieres this Friday on Channel 5 in the UK. Many of us have seen bootlegged versions already, leaked on YouTube, Vimeo, and wherever else. But tonight, the rest of the footballing world and those with a passing interest in the goings on at LFC will sneak a peek at its petticoat tails.
No good can come of it as far as I’m concerned. The manager could be established as the greatest of all time, but given the manner of the documentary, it’s still highly likely he’s going to come across as an arse. These things are much, much safer done in retrospect, aren’t they? My favourite sporting documentary of all time is “Living with Lions”, the warts and all tale of the British Lions rugby squad’s tour of South Africa in 1997. A manager and assistant of the highest possible calibre took the helm for that tour – genuine legends of the game – but in both cases, the footage made them appear genuinely odd in places, particularly Jim Telfer the assistant, who showed the signs of borderline psychopathy that set him aside as a great.
That’s all well and good. Footballers and football people are odd balls. They can barely peel a potato or change a lightbulb, half of them, and to sustain the chutzpah to do their job well long term, they often have to be egomaniacs to some extent.
So here’s my worry. At “Year Zero”, when your new man has to establish all the authority and support he can muster for the long haul, why in God’s name would anyone do anything that could potentially open him up to criticism, and to perceptions that undermine that authority among those who need to feel it – the players and staff, and the support?
The big win in PR terms this year has been closer engagement with bloggers and forums, and more openness in terms of access to that new man. He’s acquitted himself really well too – confirming his status as a bit of a media darling in the process. That’s welcome, and it helps him.
So why, irrespective of how good or compelling the content may be, would you open him up in his nascent months as the new boss to warts and all access to his decision making and thinking? Why would you sit him down and create an environment that encourages uncharacteristic ‘iconoclast’ soundbites?
It’s how to lose friends and alienate people, if you ask me.
But then I’m an old curmudgeon, and maybe the whole thing’s harmless enough. Results, at the end of the day, will be the determining factor on whether the Year Zero approach gets the time it needs to bear its fruit down the line – 3 or 4 years’ time.
It just helps to keep the ship steady, and I’m not sure things like this help. A little circumspection from our owners wouldn’t go amiss, I’d suggest.
The owners may know nothing about football, but Tom Werner does, at least, know about TV. Having seen the first episode, I can’t see any harm in it. It’s a bland, by-the-numbers film about Liverpool, with no controversy, and I don’t believe for a moment that the club don’t have editorial control. It’s a fuss about nothing, and the whole thing will be forgotten by Xmas.
100% agree. I’ve heard it’s fairly harmless and there isn’t too much embarrasement but I would love for once for us to concentrate on the pitch and not let this nonesense distract. It’s clearly a marketing ploy but footy must come first….shirley??
Nice article to start with, cant argue with most of it. Would have to say that ‘Year Zero’ began with the appointment of Kenny back in January 2011, FSG have always stated that his appointment was a starting block to get LFC back on the right path again and for all his faultering Kenny did this fantastically, with the club and owners at his best interest.
As you quite rightly say, ultimately results will determine how much of a success year zero is but I see no harm in the ‘Being Liverpool’, especially as most who have had a chance to catch the first episode, say how it is less a ‘fly on the wall’ and more of a outsider looking in.
I think the pros outweigh the cons. Be that financially, commercially, PR etc. And as pointed out above, LFC have a big input in how the documentary is edited. Werner will make sure that Rodgers is shown in a positive light and I think the doc will be hugely beneficial to the club.
I think the important thing to remember here is that this is not aimed at a UK audience.
This is for people around the world to see the inner workings of a club that may aswell be a million miles away. It’s purpose is to attract a new following not to appease the existing fan base.
If we gain a foot hold in the lucrative markets of America and Asia then the UK fan base will be more than happy with the extra funds available to buy top players
That’s just it though Michael. Rodgers, a nice man who’s demonstrated his comfort with the media already in his standard contractual engagements pre- and post-match, and in other press conferences, does actually end up portrayed as an arse in this documentary.
Just my opinion. I say “portrayed”, because I don’t think he is an arse. I think Villas-Boas is an arse, but not Rodgers. Yet this show makes him look like one.
I haven’t seen the programme yet,but every time I hear Brendan Rodgers speak he strikes me as a self promoter.Also I think he over eggs the pudding almost every time he talks about the players,the fans and the owners.Everybody and everything is fantastic,brilliant and unbelievable.I get the impression he’s always trying to sell me and every other fan something.
His recent appraisal of Carragher was way over the top.
It’s almost like we as fans of LFC need to be re-educated.
I hope my impressions are wrong and he can get LFC back to winning matches and trophies.
As we know thats all that matters and action speaks louder than words.
I have watched it and its really not so bad – clearly for an American audience. To be fair to BR – this was in place before he became manager so the man didn’t have a choice.
Having watched it I have no idea how they are going to fill the next five episodes. Given their access what would be interesting would seeing all the footage on the cutting room floor. They had access to Kenny’s last few weeks – that would be worth watching. But FSG will never show that.
Producers of shows like this generally want car crash telly…sensationalism. Look at that QPR thing a few years back. Plus you have to look at it in the context of the last 5 years of LFC being in the public eye all of the time for the wrong reasons (ie not football related but ownership etc) so it would be nice to have had a rest from that.
You only have to look at when Raheem made his first real impression in the league and the first thing some media did was to claim Rogers had threatened to get rid in pre-season in this very progam.
I’ve just only watched the first episode of B:L, and I agree with George and Clark above, in that it is quite harmless. I don’t see it having an impact on the season. Cynics might point out the irony of seeing Lucas coming back from recovery only to get injured during the actual season, but as a fan it was really great seeing a large proportion of airtime devoted to him. Touching stuff.
The whole asshole thing I think is largely subjective. I think Rodgers comes off more as awkward than arsey. He expresses a lot of gratitude and doesn’t bullshit much. The most awkward bit was introducing his daughter’s boyfriend but that’s most fathers for you isn’t it?
The problem is the UK doesn’t have a very good record in this market. The malicious nature of the British media has meant that anything shown has been shown with the explicit intent to embarrass. Sensationalism is the order of the day, and that’s what everyone is thinking when they see a show like this.
It doesn’t work that way over here. Sporting documentaries have left the UK in the dust for years. ESPN’s 30 for 30, HBO’s 24/7 series and Hard Knocks are all able to show a sporting story without trying to humiliate and anyone. A case in point: this year the show Hard Knocks was centered on the abysmal Miami Dolphins and their preseason preparations. They really only had a couple of star players and the loudest, most charismatic was a player called Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson.
Early in the preseason, Johnson was arrested for headbutting his wife. Instead of wallowing in it, the show was respectful, cast no aspersions, and actually showed the meeting where Johnson was cut from the team. That is how the Americans producing this show expect the show to look. They’re just not going to do that.
The concerns about Rodgers are valid, but let’s be realistic. Very few managers (or even people) in sport come off as articulate, well spoken people. Most are working class kids that grew up around working class people and sound just like that. What I expect you will see is an attempt to establish him as a strong man with the courage of his convictions. That’s what a manager needs. I think that will achieve more than engaging bloggers, with all due respect.
This is clearly made with an American and international audience in mind. That is fine- up to a point. The big weakness in FSG is an absence of any football knowledge, with a rookie in Ayre at the UK helm. As a consequence, their risk assessment of the UK vulnerability is likely to be flawed.
I know a league manager who worked with Rodgers. Apparently Rodgers went on every FA media course going, and always shone. The risk is of style over substance. When you only have one year’s Pl experience ,and three years management experience, you have to be very careful what you say- and the more screen time you have, the greater the chance that your mouth will run away with you.
I thought that the first episode was OK. There were a few Rodgers faux pas , but nothing fatal. The danger increases as increasing volumes of historic quotes in subsequent episodes are held as hostages to fortune to subsequent results and events , time-bombs waiting to go off.
There is no particular problem with a “behind the scenes look at LFC”. The risks of a real time documentary are , however, considerable. I think that Kenny will be surprised to learn that he was comfortable with being a caretaker manager ( with a three year contract) managing until something better came along in the shape of a manager with three years experience in total and no honours won.
“Being Liverpool” was when we were Liverpool.Winning European Cups and Champions Leagues, League Titles.Even Houllier could have represented “being Liverpool”And I’m not slagging off Houllier!
But today “being Liverpool” is a bit of a joke.And why do it with a new Manager who has achieved nothing and no promise so far of ever doing better that the men before?
It just begins to look like Hicks and Gillette all over again.
I just hope I’m wrong!
Being Liverpool started before Kenny was fired, so before all the “Year 0” stuff began to happen with Rodgers. While it’s not ideal for Rodgers, I’m sure it’s not at the top of the list of the problems he has inherited from previous regimes (or that the higher ups have created for him).
When was the contract with Fox signed? and when was rodgers installed as manager (1 June 2012).
There was talk about this when Kenny was in charge so I guess the clubs hands where tied (that’s if they even see it that way)
I’m looking forward to watching it. I’ve no interest in Judo but I watched a BBC documentary prior to the Olympics on British hopeful Ashley Mckenzie and the result was I went out of my way to watch his bout / fight or whatever they call it. This documentary will run for a few weeks and then be forgotten but the fruits of it will last for years. If, over time, it buys us a player then I’m happy.
It appears to me some Liverpool fans are constantly heaping more pressure on the team and manager day by day and always with that snide recognition that we must give them time. If we must give them time then lets give it them and let them get on with it for a bit. So far, the only criticism I’ve heard regarding this programme has been from Liverpool fans.
Having watched episode one, I have to say it made me slightly uncomfortable. The way the manager and players tried to act naturally, but obviously played to the camera a little, combined with Clive Own’s narration, made it sometimes seem like a mock reality-TV spoof – such as ‘People Like Us’ – the genre that led to The Office.