I REMEMBER one of the first appraisals that I ever had, back in the days when business moved from, ‘Look, you’re doing well, keep doing it’ or ‘You’re a bit shit at the moment, sort it out’ to actual targeted aims, KPIs and SMART measures. When all the fun went from it basically. (Yes, yes, it was all much more complicated than that really but when have you known me to not generalise wildly in the hope of making a point?).
First appraisal under a new regime. Four hours. Four hours. I was running a stockroom. Now, admittedly some of that time involved cups of tea and perhaps a ciggie — not me, clean living lad, me — and a lot of it involved discussion of the finer points of The Style Council’s catalogue. Hey, we were in a record shop, what did you think we spent our time talking about? But still. Four hours. I’ve had meetings with lads with very little responsibility that lasted two quite easily.
Brendan’s had his review. A two or three hour meeting depending on what reports you read. Now, I’m not being funny and I’m sure that Michael Gordon (below) — now that we’ve all been made aware of who he is — is a real ‘go ahead, straight to the point, sharp, absolutely incisive’ kind of guy but…three hours? Really? You can review ALL of last season in three hours? Or two?
I was on the podcast the Monday after the Stoke horror show with Neil, Gareth and James Sutton; we did an hour on the 6-1 alone. An hour where we pulled the whole thing apart and demanded change, immediate change, necessary change. An hour and I, for one, was only just getting warmed up. Could have gone on for days. The level of fume I was reaching was almost unprecedented. Yes, we’ll come back to the podcast in a minute, we’ll talk knee jerks. I’m good at knee jerks. Knee jerks and volte faces — my specialties.
Thing is: If we can do an hour on one game — and TAW Player does way more than an hour per game, Pink, Tuesday Review (I love going on the Tuesday Review, it’s like school for football), Unwrapped, all the bits that pull apart the issues and do the whole forensic thing on them. Three hours a week, minimum. End of season review; three hours.
Which may indicate two things:
One — FSG are a lot stupider than we think, are a lot more cavalier than we think and are the Twitter crowd’s worst fear made flesh; too proud to sack their own man in case it looks as though they don’t know what they’re doing.
Or two — FSG are a damn sight more clued up than we think and have actually been reviewing Brendan’s position every week all season in a cold, hard, business version of what every fan on the planet is doing but with more access to things like actual facts.
Perhaps the fact that the review was so short was because they know exactly what went wrong and exactly what they intend to do about it. It may be that Brendan’s job has never been in any danger at all. Then again, it may be that he’s still got a job because Klopp wants a year off, Ancellotti fancies Italy, De Boer is happy where he is and Rafa was never really an option.
Maybe Brendan’s safe because FSG can’t guarantee a change would improve the club more than supporting the guy that’s already there. As risk averse strategies go, you can’t really argue too much with that can you? Not even when you’ve sat in a studio the day after the worst defeat in your lifetime (I’m 51 and it’s the worst defeat of MY lifetime so that’s pretty damning on the whole, being really old and all that) and vented.
Which brings us back to the podcast. ‘I can’t see any way that he can stay’, ‘It’s time to go, he’s looked like a dead man walking for months’, ‘he’s lost the players’, no-one knows what they’re supposed to be doing’, ‘his head’s gone’ and all other variations of the above. All said by me. With swearing. And fury.
I’d moved into the Klopp camp, moved to be very publicly anti-Brendan. And I wasn’t alone. Wasn’t alone in the room, wasn’t alone in the pub after the Palace game, wasn’t alone in the online polls that said 80 per cent of us wanted our manager out. We’ve wanted our manager out before and it’s happened. I don’t think there’s ever been a point where we’ve wanted our manager gone this much and had to watch that manager recover from it. Everton have, United have, Kendall’s house being paint bombed, the Mancs wanting Fergie gone…both sets of supporters ultimately happy to be so wrong.
This then, this is where we find out exactly what Brendan’s made of. This is where we see if he’s capable of coming back against the most ridiculous of odds. I know we’re fickle creatures but he’s going to have to give us the Suarez season all over again next year if he’s going to win us back. It’s going to take one hell of a statement of intent from day one of next season for us to start claiming that ‘Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool’ are on ‘their way to glory’, for us to compare him to Shankly again. If he can do that, then he’s a hell of a man and he deserves every bit of praise that he can be given.
Statements of intent though: a big transfer would be nice. And we’re back to podcasts and me and my big gob. ‘Yeah, I can see that having Benteke and Ings and Origi is decent but only if they’re numbers three four and five in your list of strikers with Sturridge at number two and somebody BIG, somebody that has a big reputation, that scores BIG goals, that scores LOTS of big goals is at number one. A Lacazette, let’s say. A name, a — God help me, I don’t want to say this but let’s do it — ‘marquee’ signing.’
All this on the Unwrapped show when we talked about strikers and nothing’s changed, it all still looks as though we’ll start the season with an injured Sturridge plus Benteke, Ings and Origi. We may even still have Mario. We’ll probably get to the 1st of September and find Fabio’s still hanging round. ‘Milner’, I said, ‘Milner’s okay, he’s a good player, a good pro but I can’t see him as anything more than a squad player, it’s not an ‘exciting’ signing.’
So, this is where we are; we’re going to start next season with manger that many of us didn’t want any longer, with new signings that don’t seem to be of the calibre that we demanded and with the owners still taking an approach to the business that we don’t agree with.
Unless tomorrow’s papers tell us something different and we find we’re managed by Frank De Boer and he’s bought Lacazette and Kovacic or unless Ancelotti’s has turned down a return to Milan while I’ve been writing this — what’s that? He has? Look, I’m not rewriting the whole bloody thing now. Things change quickly BUT if we are starting next season the way most of think we are, the way many of us fear that we are then what do we do?
We do the obvious. We get behind the 11 lads running round in red (or black or hopefully that nice new white shirt that leaked the other day) from the first second of the season.
We forget contract talks, forget how poor the last few months have been, forget the disappointments and start again. We don’t have any choice really, it’s what we do.
Liverpool is always Liverpool and we’re always us so we get behind them and we hope that there’s a lot of names on this list that are ready to prove to us that a lot of us haven’t got a clue what we’re talking about.
And if they do?
I’ll be more than happy if the world thinks I know bugger all.
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda