BRENDAN RODGERS likes to talk.
He loves reciting a story with a happy ending. Especially if he stars in it.
It’s safe to say that right now the Liverpool manager has built up plenty of goodwill with the club’s fanbase and the media at large. He deserves it. He’s done a cracking job. He has improved individual players significantly. If he wants to chat away to journalists about how he helped Daniel Sturridge realise his untapped potential or bang on about how he instilled confidence into Jordan Henderson’s game I have no problem with that. Some may see it as self indulgent and categorise such musings as shameless self promotion or David Brent-style riffing but – frankly – he’s earned the right to some self congratulation from time to time. He has an ego, like all of us, and if he wants it stroked for some of his achievements that’s fine.
One thing has concerned me lately though when it comes to the topic of Rodgers’ rhetoric. It’s nothing too serious (yet), but the way he has been talking about Mario Balotelli has grated on me. I’ve tried to ignore it and most of the time it’s admittedly been fairly harmless stuff, but after Liverpool’s victory at Spurs it became downright patronising in my eyes.
Saying that Balotelli’s time at Liverpool could be his “last chance at a big club” was justified. He made the same type of public assertion when Daniel Sturridge came to Anfield and frankly, it was a fair assessment in both instances. His joke that Balotelli would add “trouble” to the squad when he was asked about his new signing on live television may have been slightly misguided but it was obviously just a rib. An off-the-cuff joke not to be taken seriously. Still nothing to see here.
Then came the post-match press conference at White Hart Lane on Sunday.
“For the first time in his life he marked at a corner. Serious. International player, won three titles in Italy, cups, Champions League. And we were doing corners and he went ‘I don’t mark at corners’. Well you do now…”
First of all, the notion that Balotelli has never picked a man up at a corner before is just a complete fabrication. You don’t even need to go and re watch old games from the Italian’s career to know that it’s pure fantasy. The idea of a big centre forward never having been directed to defend a corner under the tutelage of the likes of Jose Mourinho, Roberto Mancini or Cesare Prandelli is, for want of a better phrase, complete b*****ks. Even if Balotelli said that in training (and if he did I’d assume he was kidding) why bring it up in front of the press? What purpose did it serve?
It’s a fairly inconsequential quote on the face of it and, coming off the back of an outstanding 3-0 win, it was unlikely to be scrutinised too much, but that doesn’t make it okay. It was completely patronising and disrespectful towards the player and his former coaches. Worse, it also feeds into the notion that Mario Balotelli is some kind of lazy prima donna aimlessly floating along in need of Rodgers to bring him back down to earth.
Predictably, some people lapped it up. ‘Look at what Brendan said. Mario never used to bother marking players he was that much of a lad! Brendan will sort him out, though. Won’t get away with that here.’ That sort of stuff. It was a line that made people chuckle, no doubt. But it was completely unnecessary of the manager to make that conversation public.
Put yourself in the striker’s shoes for a minute. You’ve just helped your team to a 3-0 victory on your début. You’ve played pretty damn well given the circumstances and gone off to a standing ovation from the away fans. Then you hear your manager talking about you as if you are some spoilt ten year old who has belatedly found a proper role model who will finally insist that you eat your greens whether you want to or not. If I were Mario and I read those quotes I’d feel like a bit of an idiot.
Balotelli famously dislikes the rumours, half truths and apocryphal tales that surround him. He’s not too fond of the media and their desire to paint him as some immature, detached nincompoop. No wonder. He’s a complicated young man with a few mistakes in his past but he isn’t merely the bumbling comedy act that many would have you believe. Those quotes from Rodgers were worthless. They only served to underline this perception of Mario the class clown who desperately requires a guiding hand from his new headmaster.
I’m sure there was no malice intended from Rodgers and his mouth just got a little carried away in the aftermath of an impressive day’s work, but he needs to rein it in. He’s been quoted as saying Liverpool aren’t going to become ‘The Mario Balotelli Show’, so maybe it would be better if he didn’t add fuel to those particular flames with silly quotes that immediately write headlines for opportunistic journalists out to promote the myth of ‘Mario the Maverick’.
The amount of surprise on show in the aftermath of Balotelli’s début illustrated just how difficult a task it will be for the player to alter the general perception of him. People we’re apparently amazed that he’d actually worked hard for Liverpool against Spurs! Some have even dared to use it as proof that Rodgers can ‘turn the player around’. It was as if Balotelli was a changed man in their eyes. He’d apparently gone from a lazy git into a workaholic after six days on Merseyside.
Again, this is just pure fiction.
A work-shy player unwilling or unable to contribute defensively to his team simply doesn’t play in a Jose Mourinho side no matter how talented he may be (ask Juan Mata). A complete lay about doesn’t lead the line for Italy and destroy one of the best centre halves in world football during a Euro 2012 semi final the way Mario did to Mats Hummels. Preening, uncommitted individuals aren’t usually popular with their peers at any football club for long and yet one need only look to the reaction of Man City’s players to Balotelli’s presence at the Eithad last Monday for confirmation that he was a well-liked figure there.
There is no doubt that, when his head drops, Balotelli can lose motivation. While other players will run around more when they’re frustrated, he can sulk and withdraw from a game if things aren’t going his way. Liverpool and Rodgers will no doubt have to cross that bridge when they come to it sooner or later. But this idea that Mario Balotelli is just some rebel without a cause who simply does whatever the hell he feels like every time he steps on to a football pitch is completely unfounded. It needs to be knocked on the head, not propagated further by irresponsible quotes from the player’s new manager.
If Mario Balotelli does succeed and improve at Liverpool Football Club then I will quite happily listen for hours on end to Brendan Rodgers reminiscing and eulogising about the work that went into making that happen. Until then though, I’d rather he keep schtum and let Mario’s football do the talking.
After all, as Brendan said himself, Liverpool don’t need to become ‘The Mario Balotelli Show’.
One red boot, one blue boot – what the fuck is going on these days?!
What a load of rubbish.
Did you see how he said that, it was entirely tongue in cheek.
Stop being so precious, Mario won’t give a crap what Brendan said about him marking at corners.
I’m glad I wasn’t the only one pissed off at this. It got picked up in every match report I read as well; journos happy to take the manager’s lead on this unhelpful narrative.
Pleasingly Stevie has flat-batted any opportunities to feed into it, and I just hope the dressing room get behind him and give him the best possible conditions to flourish.
Ironically, this blog’s articles (and headlines in particular) are nothing short of shameless self-promotion of, well, this blog.
? How so?
Have to disagree on this. Mario has been told many times about what is expected of him and it goes in one ear and out the other. Reinforcement in totally necessary in the rehabilitation of the player. Rodgers has shown already what a great man manager he his, he knows what he’s doing and if it sounds a little uncomfortable to your ears then maybe you should stop being so precious
My reaction was very similar. I actually thought the “trouble” remark was cringeworthy but it was clearly a throwaway so fair enough. But the corner remark was patronising even though Mario probably brushed it off.
Rodgers doesn’t talk any more than any other top-flight manager, and the accusations of “Brent-isms” ultimately comes down to the individual’s opinion of the man.
But like it or not, he has a good relationship with the media, therefore will have more written about him than the likes of Bruce and Hughes, who’s post-match interviews are no more than lists of refereeing errors, or Pardew who just bans specific media outlets who criticise him.
And invariably he is going to have to field a lot of questions on Balotelli. Would you rather him take the pompous, gobshite method of a Van Gaal when scorning a journalist, telling them their questioning is stupid.
I’m aware that the Anfield Wrap is a blogging site, and Dave has posted numerous insightful and witty pieces, but this one falls well sort of usual standards.
Good article – there are numerous other examples of his daft comments around (insulting his ‘friend’ Mourinho after the Chelsea home game and then compounding matters by doing likewise about Pulis!).
Those who talk the most have the least to say!
Great piece. Brendan was always keen to defend Suarez at all costs and his quotes were always well thought through.
With Balotelli he has acted differently, perhaps with the view that it will be the players fault if he fails and the managers ‘genius’ if he succeeds.
Cheap comments don’t usually help.
Having read Rodgers’ comments – this piece echoes my sentiments exactly.
But having seen him say them… it’s pretty clear what Rodgers’ point was (he even said it) – “treat Balotelli like an adult and he’ll act like one”
Very different to the ego-stroking anecdote the initial quotes led me to believe.
Yeah, I had the same experience. It is always amazing what reading quotes out of context and without the tone of voice they were given in can do to change their impact.
Bit of a polarisation of views on here, isn’t there?
FWIW, I think Brendan has kissed the Blarney stone. I quite often cringe at some of the stuff he spouts and he has been a bit over the top with Mario. The “trouble” comment was funny but uncalled for really. Who knows how it was received by the player.
He gets a lot of things right and for that I am grateful. But he does need to rein in his tongue a bit.
Mario is the one that said he never defends at corners. Rodgers was just making a joke about it. I think Rodgers is just trying to put Balotelli in his place and not treat him like a big star. This is why Rodgers gets the best out of players like him, Sturridge and Suarez and why managers like Jose failed..
Well said mate… Brendon great!! He has done a lot for Liverpool FC.. Lets focus on other insures like the next game and not slag our manager that’s done wonders for team and for the club….
Enjoyed your last two contributions Dave, this one not so much. Seems like an unnecessary dig at the boss, who probably credits Mario with a thicker skin and sense of humour than you do. It was a throw away comment that should have been just that.
Thought this might get contrasting views. Just my honest opinion guys and girls. Some think I’m being overly precious, others seem to agree that Brendan should just leave the whole Mario thing alone as much as possible. All fair game, can see both sides, just think Mario will get enough press without the manager adding more when it’s not needed.
Have you ever considered that Rogers’ comments may have been thought out in advance? That this may not have just been some flippant, off the cuff comment just conjured from some whimsical place in his mind which he dedicates to pissing off his star players? Stories like these do come across a lot as Rogers playing up his man managing skills but also help break the public perception of Balotelli from his crazy (sometimes made up) past and give him a bit of a fresh start in the public eye. He’s the man now trying to make a positive change instead of the spoilt brat who wont take direction.
It’s also pretty obvious the sort of team spirit and togetherness that Rogers tries (seemingly with no small success) within the liverpool squad. Part of that is making light and poking fun when players need to improve. To me it’s like the sort of ribbing you get from your mates or family. Look at the Ricky Gervais comment he made about Sterling. He’s just not treating Balotelli any differently from anyone else – which is exactly what you would want if you were a new player coming into a team like this one, wouldn’t you?
I think it’s going to be a challenge for Rogers to work with Balotelli but I don’t see anything wrong in his approach so far, let’s see how he gets on before picking apart his methods eh?
get a life.
I get both sides of this argument. I side with Dave, though.
Hey, you know what? Let’s go ahead and give Mario credit and assume he has a good, thick skin about him. Let’s even run with the “Brendan said it tongue-in-cheek” scenario, and let’s even assume Mario knew it was meant as a joke.
The problem is, the people writing columns aren’t necessarily in on the joke, and don’t necessarily *know* it’s a joke. They write stupid crap and build unto the hype of Balotelli as the Bad Player, ignoring the fact that he probably was trying hard to change his image in Italy and that coming back to England so soon wasn’t his number one plan.
Everyone assumes professional footballers should keep their heads down and behave properly, but I don’t know too many 24-year-olds who would deal well with the press constantly highlighting perceived “character issues” of theirs.
Who the fuck is dave martinez anyway.
Chill out fella. You’ve looked at this one way too deeply. Give the boss a break.
Agree. Mountain out of a molehill.
Agreed. There’s so much good to talk about and you write an article about this?
Totally agree with you writer. Brendao’s comments grated me as well. Just leave Mario alone, tell everyone he did well so Mario gets to feel good, keep your lame quips to yourself… and stick to keeping the team focused please.
I doubt Shankly would ever jest about his players to the media.
I love Brendao… total genius, maybe a tad bit naïve (see Chelsea last year)… but writer is right: he talks far too much.
Brendao needs to chill with mocking Raheem too.
So what he totally choked on the shot and, in turn, was ridiculed by his own coach as finishing like ricky gervais.
The kids is 19, no need for his coach to mock him in public.
Is this the same manager who joked of his star man on the day …he dribbled like Ricky Villa and shot like Ricky Gervais …NO!!!! not ….Mario Balotelli…..who had a really good game for his first with his new team …he was referring to Raheem Sterling ….who googled both names then saw the funny side ….did you also see Rogers smiling watching Balotelli ….for he knows the best has yet to come…..And I for one believe Balotelli will be an excellent buy …regardless of Brendans sense of humour …correction ….because of Brendans sense of humour …he has created an atmosphere of TEAM!!!!!! spirit
I think you are being a bit to precious here, look at things in the round never just the isolated incident. If we would have got stuffed at Spurs you can have a pop at the manager justifiably. On the back of a 0-3 away win then you are being way too sensitive. Given the 24/7 coverage today I would hate to see the scrutinisation of the words that came out of the legend that was Shanks. If people are forced to talk you can always draw opposing views on what they have said. Great win, top game and excellent management to bounce back so well after City.
You are 100% correct, Dave.
I have made a living as a communication and leadership expert for over 30 years and I noticed this RIGHT away when he said it. He needs to be more careful. I think he needs to watch out that power and influence don’t mar his own ability to help others manage fame, fortune and talent.
Oh please, give Brendan rodgers sum space. If he said so on a Live program then Mario finds out, he can google it as well because calling Sterling such names on the post interview and Young sterling opss AKA la sterling la Messi Jr found out its just a joke of his Man Manager, then its a kind of motivation and support. So as far as am concern these article is far beyond my imagination as insult. Mario you gut to keep marking at corner. Mourinho never asked him to do such things because his such a mind game manager #Finish
What does ‘precious’ mean in this instance? What’s the definition please?
On the one hand you say it’s unnecessary for Rodgers to come out and say this and then on the other you come out and write this. A completely unnecessary story.
Rodgers will have had advice, possibly from Steve Peters, on how to deal with Balotelli’s personality traits. How do you know this isn’t part of the strategy to keep him balanced? When everything’s going so well and the fans are all united behind the boss for once I don’t see the point or the merit in publicly criticising him because you don’t like a story he told. I’m not suggesting we treat him like Kim Jong-un but give him a little leeway – he’s doing just fine. If you don’t like his man management of a player and want to write about it then you’re entitled to do so but please don’t insinuate what Rodgers said was embarrassing and then come out with this. It’s always worrying when you’re left thinking more about what the author’s trying to say than what was said by the man the article is about.
Isn’t it great when fans discover they are smarter than the manager? Thank goodness too because Rodgers would have otherwise just kept on talking. Instead, after surely having read this article (he bookmarks this site) he’ll make that adjustment and tone down the rhetoric. It’s important when these naive professionals with their years or experience, teams of analysts, a dedicated sports shrink and a plan for every scenario realise that they just don’t know what they are doing. Instead they wisely defer to someone who, although they’ve never met this player and only know them through media reports, obviously have a clear and accurate insight into how they work. This guy has nailed down Mario Balotelli better than even Mario knows himself. It’s truly impressive. I wonder if maybe Brendan will take him onto the staff as a kind of personal guru for Mario, dispensing wise words to calm the player and keep him motivated. After all it’s clear that Rodgers hasn’t the first clue how to do that, he hasn’t managed it with any other players.
I had the same initial reaction to those comments that they didn’t serve much purpose and there was a strong risk that Balotelli would find them patronising. I also felt that Rodgers’ was congratulating himself way too early. I was very encouraged with Balotelli’s first game but reckon that the real battle will be in a couple of months time when his mood might start to wander.
The thing I would say in Brendan Rodger’s defense though is that those comments might have changed the narrative in the press from “when is he going to light fire to his bathroom” to “Balotelli is being well managed by Liverpool” (although his performance probably spoke for itself). So hopefully if nothing comes up that the press can jump on they will get bored with Balotelli and be stuck with the true narrative of Liverpool being a tightly-knit and exciting team sweeping all before them.
As much as I rate Rodgers as a man-manager, I think the only thing that will truly motivate Balotelli to produce his full potential is the adoring love of the Kop. Therefore, one of the most encouraging signs for me was when Balotelli was going off and he stopped to acknowledge acknowledge the ovation from our away support, as he seemed genuinely touched. So hopefully he comes fired up to Anfield against Villa and shows us a nice balance of “footballing arrogance” and team effort and the stadium is ringing out his name by the end of it.
If Mario is appreciated for the player that he is,rather than his portrayal in the press as a genius with a tragic flaw.Then we will no doubt witness his talent which is considerable &,sometimes breathtaking ! Mike F.
I am leaving a message here because I dislike articles which lift only a few lines of what was said during the interview and sensationalise it.
Brendan goes on after this to say that “if you give that boy responsibilities, he will act like an adult” which was his point when he pointed out the corner incident. His point is that Mario has grown up, and will be taking responsibilities. But no, this article chooses to take it out of context and see it as slamming Mario.
Shame on you.
Read the first 3 paragraphs then couldn’t take anymore! Seems like we have someone that’s upset for little/no reason.
All liverpool fans idolise BR, and will grow on Mario, as for this comment, go do one! BR has bought this club back from a dark place and now near the top of the tree again. There is no manager in the world that any liverpool fan would pick to come in and replace BR. Not many would have a bad word to say about him, unless you support another team and then well it’s just jealousy isn’t it …….?
I disagree entirely, everything he has said has been playing with the press. The press love him and we all know it’s better to have them on the inside the tent pissing out.
The PURPOSE was to show that Balotelli is capable of change, and that within the first 15 minutes of the game on Sunday he did what was right for the team and not himself.
Well done Brendan
Fuck me, you even dragged up the David Brent bollix. Get yer ead out your arse before you start digging up the RAFA horse for a floggin’, no fucker is perfect lad. TAW normally stands out for it’s insightful comments, this is nit-picking at best; pure journo arse-wipe.
BR has shown himself to be as affective a team manager as we have seen since the players wore ‘taches like Pancho Villa. You can surely find easier targets in his armoury for criticism than the two solid pillars that are: his ‘man-management’ and his communication skills. How about: ‘He’s a bit of a short-arsed cunt that takes hinself too seriously’ or ‘that fucking Nth Irish accent does my ‘ead in’.
Great comments, couldn’t agree more
Shocknly this article by this p*#ck is jst a measure to get folks to put him up for attention and recognition..id have to say he done dat pretty good, none- the- less..this is his personal opinion n i hope everyone will agree with me wen i say brendon is doing a great job in shaping players especially strikes!!
Until the author takes over as Liverpool manager and shows that he could do better than BR, I respectfully suggest that he watches and learns. BR has done well to date and continually proves that he knows what he is doing.
Remember the Sterling video where he stomped on the kad to bring him down to Earth? This is one in a number of incidents where BR has taken time to speak to one if his players to advise them of the correct path. Sterling and others obviously respect the manager and are flourishing under his leadership and guidance.
Balotelli has had a number of managers who have failed to control or get the best out of him. These managers are both experienced and respected in football. BR has his style and I back him 100% to get the best out of alk if his players. Let him do his job, if he fails, THEN and only THEN question his methods
Excellent point regarding Sterling. I remember the criticism Rodgers received for the way he spoke to him. Probably the best thing to happen to improve Sterling’s game. He’s matured.
Every manager has it’s style. BR’s style on troubled players works. His approach with Mario may seemed odd or unacceptable to others but to Mario maybe that’s what he is. Remember that Mario is a genius and he thinks differently from us. So what irks you and others maybe paternal or nurturing care to Mario. Maybe Mario likes that kind of nurturing. You do not know. Perhaps you can wait a while longer before making swift unsubstantiated claims on what you think is wrong not thinking what maybe correct for Mario.
Go and write for the bluesh*te fanzine, why spout subjective sh*te about our Brendan.
Ever thought he might be doing it on purpose ? Surprised TAW has printed this.
you lot are depressing i know alot of people like your blog, bet u wernt the ones in the last 6 months of the season singing where gonna win the league depressing duckers. always pointing out the negatives, never a positive note out of ya.
If you bothered your arse to read or listen to what we do, you’d know we were probably the first to say we WOULD win the league last season. But don’t let the facts get in the way of your bullshit.
I think slick might be new to the site
Interesting piece on Mario. I am of two minds about this. I think that Brendan has seemed to indulge the Mario show in front of the media which is a little off putting but I think it does merit some discussion. I just wish it was done with a little more seriousness.
Would have had to agree with you….but everyone who has worked with Brendan Rodgers has praised his man management skills and said he is the best they have worked with in that respect…therefore Rodgers comments are surely calculated and with an agenda. The focus so far has been to remove the ‘Why always me’, primadonna attitude and image that Balotelli has….so all this is part of a plan
The best article I’ve read on here. Mario just needs a manager who treats him like a man, rather than a boy – and fans who treat him as a man, rather than merely a primate (as many Italians seemed to).
He’s not let us down yet and that’s all that matters, so treat him like everyone else in the squad.
He is the football equivalent of David Brent, the comparison is completely justified. the man is in love with himself and is blisfuly unaware that most sane people think he’s a cringey whopper. Thank god he’s doing a good job because if he wasn’t id be unable to forgive him for all the bullshit he spouts every week.
Get over yourself mate. The list you’ve gone to the trouble to research is pathetic.
Brendan top quotes: Prepare to cringe
1. ”It was a perfect away performance, apart from the first 10 minutes.”
2. “I’ve always said that you can live without water for many days, but you can’t live for a second without hope.”
3. On Luis Suarez: “He is a real warrior of spirit.”
4. “My biggest mentor is myself because I’ve had to study, so that’s been my biggest influence.”
5. “I am not a power freak.” (We think the lady doth protest too much!)
6. “I started coaching for one reason and that was to make a difference for people, not just as footballers but as human beings.”
7. “When we have the football, everybody’s a player.”
8. “You train dogs, I like to educate players.”
9. ‘I think there’s three players who will let us down this year — the cause, the fight, everything – and I have written them down already in these three envelopes. Make sure you are not in one of the envelopes.”
10.”I use a quote with the players,“Per aspera ad astra”, which is Latin for ‘through adversity to the stars’.”
11. “When you’ve got the ball 65-70% of the time, it’s a football death for the other team. We’re not at that stage yet, but that’s what we will get to. It’s death by football. You just suck the life out of them.”
12. “Joe Allen is one of the most courageous players I’ve seen.
13. “I will leave no stone unturned in my quest – and that quest will be relentless.”
14. “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.”
15. “All I’ll ever do is all I’ve ever done in any job, and that’s promise to fight for my life for the people of the city.”
16. On the ‘Being: Liverpool’ documentary: “It was something I didn’t watch, and thankfully it’s over.”
17. “I’ve always worked along the statistic, that if you can dominate the game with the ball you have a 79% chance of winning a game of football.”
18. “I believe a young player will run through a barbed wire fence for you. An older player looks for a hole in the fence.”
19. “The problem with being a manager is it’s like trying to build an aircraft while it is flying.”
20. “We play with 11 men, other teams play with 10 men and a goalkeeper.”
Some of those quotes are a bit cringey in the cold light of day but if you suspend your cynicism for a bit I don’t think there is much wrong with them, and many of them I actually quite like. For example, I think “The problem with being a manager is it’s like trying to build an aircraft while it is flying.” is a very good analogy, and have often quoted him saying it.
What’s more, I actually think they are working, in that they are slowly changing the agenda/terminology/attitude in the fan base and the press to appreciate and get behind what the team is doing. For example, I have noticed some commentators starting to use the term “courageous” to refer to midfielders who always present for the ball, which helps to build the appreciation amongst the support for what players such as Allen bring to the team and stops the crowd getting on his back (as much) for not being Steven Gerrard.
Most importantly, judging by the way the team responds to him, his motivational speaking seems to go down pretty well in the dressing room as well.
Yes he is a bit cringe sometimes but so is the fact that you’ve just posted those 20 comments. Get behind our man. He’s changed the fortunes of our great club dramatically. What other manager would have stuck with Hendo, continued to play Skrtel, blooded Flanno and Sterling and persuaded Suarez to stick around that bit longer. Not to mention turn Sturridge into a £40m asset.
I don’t really care what he says as long as he motivates the players and gets us results on the pitch. Something he is doing quite well.
I have always liked this site because of its overwhelming positivity. Disappointed with many of the comments here.
Bloody hell lay off BR. In the words of Russell Crowe “Are you not entertained?”
I have no issues with what the gaffer says. He’s got the respect of the players. That’s what matters. Get off his back and stop nit picking. Might want to use Dove soap as you are VERY SENSITIVE. Put some effort into positivity