A DUTCH legend once told me that a talented player devoid of discipline is as useful as a phone without a charger. Ability alone would never see you touch greatness, he preached — pointing to diligence as the power source to succeed.
He would look at his squad and identify the good influences, as well as their opposites, before looking at how the more impressionable players associated with each group. The last aspect was especially important to him as he was dedicated to helping shape young stars.
I thought of this vignette as Mario Balotelli celebrated his 25th birthday on Wednesday, and Jose Enrique lamented being alienated at Liverpool along with the eccentric Italian and fellow forgotten man Fabio Borini.
The words also camped in my mind during Brendan Rodgers’ first press conference of the season, in which he named James Milner as vice-captain. He saluted the midfielder’s dedication to advancement, detailing how the 29-year-old arrives at Melwood two-and-a-half hours ahead of training to prepare for the sessions. Milner is a “great ally” for the skipper Jordan Henderson, whose approach to extracting the best out of himself is as rigorous.
Examples. Those two are the examples. The good influences. The phones with chargers.
Balotelli, Enrique and Borini are not. That is the reason they were not part of the club’s pre-season tour, while Rickie Lambert, despite also being surplus to requirements, was afforded an invitation. West Brom’s new hitman also didn’t have to wait long for concrete interest in his services, because his professionalism has never been in question.
Aged 25. Not a kid. Not promise. Not potential. TWENTY FIVE. “He no longer has the alibi of his age,” as Balotelli’s agent Mino Raiola put it.
I’m one of those people desperate for ‘Super Mario’ to shrug off his kryptonite and be the unplayable version of himself. The problem? We want it way more than he is willing to work for it, and this is the gospel across Europe. The missed training sessions, the lack of interest when he does turn up, and his magnet for controversy are placed on a higher shelf than some incredible achievements.
We can talk about Rodgers’ use of him, we can dwell on ‘what ifs’, we can go the supermarket and purchase all the excuses we want, but we should just buy a mirror and hand it to Mario. Take a look at yourself before it’s too late, lad.
Enrique, meanwhile, puts the F U N in defunct. He’s always up for a game of table tennis, is forever logged into Instagram, and is ever ready – for a selfie. Everything is a laugh, anything is laugh. He says he knows he’ll play if he stays, as the club “only have one pure left-back” in Alberto Moreno.
Well, if he does hang around, he’s got 99 problems and Joe Gomez is one. In fact, part of the reason the 18-year-old has ousted Moreno to a first-team place is the Spaniard’s association with Enrique. Spending time joking around with those who can’t particularly be arsed is not going to work as well as putting in shifts to ensure you’re pushing yourself to infinity and beyond.
Gomez didn’t just impress Rodgers during games on Liverpool’s pre-season tour, he was an absolute machine in training. He listened, he learnt and he was desperate to capitalise on his opportunity and put himself in contention. There was no doubt over his ability, no doubt over his attitude, and it is also why there was no doubt he would start the first game of the season at the notoriously unforgiving Britannia.
It amused me that Enrique doesn’t think he’ll play because he deserves it, or because he’s planning extra sessions to ensure it — if anything, at least he’s not kidding himself. Moreno needs to distance himself from the clowning around, the sulking, and get to work. Gomez has a helluva head start.
On Borini, I was once informed, ‘there are players who dine on the prestige of being at Liverpool, and there are those who know they are incredibly lucky to have the privilege and pour everything they have into the club. He, sadly, is the former.’
Liverpool have seven players in the current first-team squad who are aged 21 and under. They need examples. They need guidance. They need inspiration. Distractions and disruptions are not welcome.
There are 15 players between 22 and 25 at the club and only seven over that age bracket. It is a very young group, and Liverpool are determined to cultivate a culture of excellence to thrive in.
Milner and Henderson are not alone in knowing distinction is a habit; Nathaniel Clyne, Adam Lallana, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho share their thirst to unearth every added advantage. The latter referenced Luis Suarez as his example to follow on how to be “a maniac in training”.
Kolo Toure may as well be a synonym for dedication. Jordon Ibe cut short his summer break to better his finishing and overall game. Martin Skrtel will do anything you need him to — yes, even moisturise his inked arms in a Nivea commercial.
Simon Mignolet has studied his strengths and weaknesses, and worked on them both. Dejan Lovren is intensely trying to right the wrongs of a nightmare debut season. Mamadou Sakho has a blend of ability, leadership and a personality brighter than Melwood’s new floors. Danny Ings’ fire has impressed Robbie Fowler — case dismissed. Emre Can’s desire to prove himself in midfield is as obvious as his good looks…
We are what we repeatedly do. If you can’t trust a player at the club complex, how do you trust him at Anfield, let alone at any away ground in the league?
Liverpool have plenty of positive influences and plenty of room for improvement. There are aspects — like wage structure and unlimited resources, which has the club playing catch up. But there is no restriction on making sure your work ethic is optimal and your output is top-tier.
The culture of merit isn’t restricted to the playing staff; the coaching team have been tireless in trying to improve individuals and the collective. There was acclaim for Pepijn Lijnders’ work during the tour, with senior players talking about revitalisation and rediscovery of their attributes under the new direction. The approach is more comprehensive and clearer.
Give me players possessed by high performance, the backroom team helping them obtain their maximum, and Liverpool fixating over excellence any day. All day.
I’m all for working for what you want. Then working some more. And if you’re not with it, keep the change ya filthy animal.
Liverpool cannot afford dead batteries, the club needs to be charged up.
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo
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Tremendous piece. The only thing I would question is whether Enrique’s much discussed social media activity actually harms anything. He’s not doing it during training is he?
Generally a superb piece though and riposte to the Balotelli apologists.
Enrique’s priorities are all over the place. He’s happy to just be there, earn well and have a laugh. There’s nothing wrong with joking around if you’re working hard on what you’re actually being paid to do, but that’s not the case with him. He doesn’t take being at Liverpool as seriously as he should. And while Milner and Hendo, for example, are demanding the best from those around them, he demands games of table tennis.
His interview yesterday just said everything. He thinks he’ll play by default, not due to effort. He knows he won’t play for a bigger club, or earn as well elsewhere.
Amen to that. :-)
PS Your Can crush is duly noted
Fantastic article brimming with truth.
Also enjoyed your piece on O Magico’s secret side, keep up the good work Melissa.
All for supporting endeavour over wasted talent – alas the treatment of Lucas Leiva kinda sinks this ship – no complaints when sidelined, came back stronger – battled injury, coached younger players on the pitch – an example pro … but now seemingly surplus to requirements at 28 … a definite mistake.
Got to agree RobDaGoth. Lucas has more go than Allen so every time he’s regularly injured who becomes the holding midfielder if Lucas is sold? But then Allen is Brendans lovechild.
He is not surplus to requirements. The club want him to stay, but he has been told of his position in the midfield order, which understandably, he is not happy with.
I’ve already discussed his situation on Twitter. He wants to start regularly, and Liverpool cannot promise him that.
He is currently behind Henderson, Milner and Can. He still has a lot to offer, but doesn’t want to do so in a bit-part role, which is fair enough.
How can Lucas be behind Henderson, Milner and Can if we play 433 or 442-diamond as our main formations?
Based on exactly what is he behind Can as a lone withdrawn central midfielder? To even ask the question with regard to Henderson and Milner is laughable.
Even in a 4231, Lucas is an ideal partner to Henderson (no idea of Milner in such a setup), Can, and even Allen.
If Rodgers told him he’s behind Henderson, Milner and Can, Rodgers is a fool. There are no proper footballing reasons why Lucas should be behind Can (let along Henderson, Milner or Allen) in the ‘1’ spot of a ‘1-2’ or ‘1-2-1’ central midfield setup, or one of the ‘2’ in a ‘2-1’ (4231) central midfield setup.
Unless I missed it, Lucas should have featured as an example of a player who combines extreme dedication and professionalism in your piece, Melissa. And he demonstrably dedicated quite a bit of his ‘summer vacation’ back in Brazil to TRAINING (we have the instagram pictures and videos as proof).
Neil has done an article on Lucas.
I had discussed him on Twitter before writing this, so focused on what I hadn’t said on there.
Not every player is mentioned in the article.
The pending transfer of Lucas Leiva could well cone back and bite us on the arse. His specialty – defensive mid-field is the only one Rodgers has not replaced despite spendIng s quarter of a billion dollars on unproven or damaged stock. Last season was a potential wipeout until November; Lucas and Sakho remedied that. Lucas and Sakho. Not diamonds, or 433 or 422?or 235 or 910 any of the daft, desperate combinations. Suggestiond that Rodgers liked a dynamic midfield that Lucas doesn’t offer may be right, but Rodgers lack of ideas was evident in the Far East tour and toms certain extent against Stoke. Understandable euphoria at the win, but it was not a fantastic game. My pre-season optimism evaporated when I saw the team sheet. Lovren wad okay, not motm, and could have been sent off at least once in the game,
That’s the last I’ll write, I think. I’d love to pen a new culpa at December but I doubt it.
An interesting piece Melissa. Regards Moreno, when signed he was the back up to Alba in the Spanish squad and we do seem, a la Insua, to rather have ruined his confidence a bit. I’m not sure the whole blame comes from hanging round Mr Instagram!!.
And let’s not all go particularly madly overboard like Goldie Hawn over one decent performance from Lovren especially as Stoke were particularly poor as an attacking force.
But another good read nonetheless.
Absolutely nothing wrong with his confidence. He’s actually quite a positive character.
The whole blame doesn’t come from that, which is why the piece says ‘part of the reason.’
There’s obviously other factors – settling in, getting to grips with the league and what is required of him defensively. But his current biggest issue is the lad younger than him is also proving to be more determined than him.
PS Andrew, the bit about Lovren was how he has been in training. Haven’t even mentioned the game above :)
Thanks for responding Melissa, I was not having a pop regards the your line about keeping his company, I know it’s not just down to that of course. I hope that Moreno comes good and realises his promise with us.
Regards Lovren, I understand no mention of the game, there just seems to be a general assumption that it’s all clicked for Lovren and, personally speaking of course, I don’t believe that to be true yet.
Fantastic as always. I think another example of the efforts to praise and reward determination and effort would be Flanagan’s new contract. He busted his ass to force his way into the team and continued to fight once he did. The leadership must be convinced of his perseverance to recover from his injury and contribute.
When Flano signed his new contract, he didn’t want the customary pictures that accompany it. He explained that didn’t want to be smiling in pictures while he was still injured. He said he’ll celebrate when he’s back and able to make a difference for Liverpool.
The right kind of attitude.
Great piece. We had a manager who kept a guy on payroll and used to call him his “minister of fun”…guy did absolutely nothing but the manager thought his antics brightened up the place. Both were bombed out within a year….I think The Bomb Squad should be working their nuts off to prove themselves but instead their social media presence seems to be on the increase and they genuinely don’t appear arsed. Moreno is going to be guilty by association and I think we need to be careful Lucas doesn’t go down the same route…
Can I ask what is the source of your information? What about the treatment of Lucas? You probably have better access than I do, but we all have eyes and lets not pretend that Brendan doesn’t have his favourites. By consensus there is no way Lovren should be starting over Sakho, regarding Mario it was no secret that he is a difficult character to manage. Remind me again who it was that was bragging that he had finally gotten Mario to start marking at corners? Alberto Moreno was the back-up to Jordi Alba, a full Spanish international and you support benching him for a 17 year old cetre-half???
I like the site and enjoy the articles but given this isn’t an official site you can afford to be a bit more objective, the only specialist experienced defensive midfielder is being forced out of the club we dug in for the victory against Stoke but I personally am reserving judgement. If Lucas leaves we will be down to Can and Allen as the players who can play the position.
If nobody takes Mario at a good price then the manager who sanctioned his signing should find a way to make it work because Liverpool isn’t Macnhester United and cant afford to leave players on £100k/week lounging on the sidelines.
agreed….the article doesnt hold water
What is the treatment of Lucas? He wants to start, but given he is behind Hendo, Milner and Can in the pecking order, the club cannot guarantee that.
They do not want to sell him, but are willing to listen to offers as he wants to leave so he can play regularly.
I prefer Sakho over Lovren, but Mamadou has missed 42 games through injury over the past two seasons, which means a confident Dejan is beneficial to have.
‘Given this is not an official site’ – erm, that doesn’t mean criticising for the sake of it. You can read plenty of those kind of articles in plenty of places.
You’re in a minority moaning about Gomez over Moreno, but as long as there’s something to moan about, eh?
Can I ask why do people use this excuse of missing 42 games out due to injury being the reason Sakho cannot get into the team? Sturridge is the same if not worse and can you imagine him being left out when returning to fitness for say Danny Ings? I doubt the same excuse would be accepted in that situation. A bit off topic apologies. Great read though.
I think the point some people are making regarding Lucas is quite simple.
In this article you are defending Brendan Rodgers’ (shock horror) treatment and non selection of certain individuals because you have heard some rumours, that may or may not be true, that they are work shy, unprofessional and not determined enough. Yet we simply do not have a more work hungry, professional and determined player at the club than Lucas. And let’s be real here – there is little difference in Rodgers’ treatment of him and those you mention. He’s being forced out of the club in the long and short of it, as Rodgers’ has tried to do for years. It is not a coincidence every transfer windows there are rumours of us selling Lucas. That is not the case with a Joe Allen for example.
In truth, this is like something James Pearce would write. A hit piece on those his mate Rodgers wanted to hit.
Take a look at your attack on Borini’s character. You can’t call him troublesome, like Balotelli. You can’t get in the highly unoriginal (a common theme in your articles) dig about his social media use, like Enrique. Instead you criticise him for “dining on the prestige of being at Liverpool.” Just incase, please don’t hide behind quotes. You’ve put that in for one of two reasons; because you believe it, otherwise you’d have asked more questions like a responsible journalist, perhaps even to Borini himself, before printing it if you did not, or because it suits an agenda of lowering the standing of the man in question and sapping the goodwill from Liverpool fans, further pressurising him into a departure.
You do not mention his local wife, who is rumoured to have a sickly mother she has to take care of. That just might have a lot to do with a desire to stay close. You do not mention that he won’t get the same wages elsewhere and the fact we offered him that contract at Brendan’s request. Its funny how ifs fine to criticise players who don’t want to honour contracts but its not fine to criticise clubs who do the same. You do not mention that he says he has a desire to fight for his place. Players get abuse for choosing to leave and not wanting to fight for a starting berth, yet here we have someone who will and he’s getting abuse for not just fucking off.
Add this piece to the other articles you’ve written defending the manager in many instances and a pattern emerges. A pattern which puts on display an obvious bias and damages any credibility you wish to earn. Of course I have not ruled out that like many modern wannabe tabloid journo’s your intention is not to garner credibility but to cultivate contacts, so you can guarantee stories and hence employment. You can make money that way. Many do. But personally I’d sooner tell the truth and be broke, than be repulsed with myself for taking money in return for agenda driven writings. Each to their own.
Now let me be clear. If Rodgers decides he wants Balotelli, Enrique, Lucas, Borini, whoever out, then that is his right. The problem for many fans lies with how he treats them.
He has a history of mismanaging players, which have consequences for the entire group, not just that player. That ties in with the group realizing what he is as a manager and why so many downed tools in April and May. It also has consequences for the money we may get on that player. Andy Carroll is a perfect example for that. Balotelli will be too. Others mistreated include Nuri Sahin.
You say you prefer Sakho over Lovren, but alas there is no article from you castigating that decision. Not a surprise of course but I dare say if Roy Hodgson made a similar selection, you’d have been all over it like a rash. And let us lay to rest the one talking point Rodgers’ defenders have been using to excuse his choice of centre back – the injury one.
Let’s not discuss the vast majority of top managers using common sense and always selecting their best players when they are fit. For some reason Rodgers doesn’t get measured against top managers by his supporters.
Let’s also not discuss the fact Tony Barrett this week confirmed what many argued last season – that Rodger’s treats his signings much differently to the signings of the transfer committee. I ask why there hasn’t been an article on that on TAW? TAW, particularly Neil, spent an incredible amount of time on Twitter refuting anyone who dared to make that argument last season. Now? Not a peep. Proven wrong and stone cold silence. Anyone with balls would hold their hands up. We know from Barrett Lovren is Rodgers’ man. We know from Barrett Sakho is a committee man.
Finally, let’s not talk about Rodgers’ previously having no issues playing injury prone players as long as they were the best players in that position at that time and were fit. No, no. Let’s ignore such inconsistency’s which would make a fool out of those defending his selection of Lovren over Sakho. Let’s pretend he didn’t select injury prone Glen Johnson every time he was fit. Or Daniel Sturridge. Or an aged Steven Gerrard. What’s that I hear you feebly mumble as you try to muster and bluff a defence? Or, that it counts if they are centre backs? Well how about when Garry Monk was injury prone in 2009/10 but every time he was fit he replaced Alan Tate as Ashley Williams partner?
But I digress. Lets focus on the injury record excuse. That’s the one I want to destroy because it has been too easy for people to use perceptions and pass them off as reality. The FIFPro database used by all pro clubs ( http://www.fifpro.org/en/players/legal/fifpro-fifa-drc-database ) shows both Lovren and Sakho to have a similar injury record. They both missed out on 16 games each due to injury last season for example. People are seeing the differential in starts and thinking “injury” when the differential is explained mostly by Rodgers’ starting Lovren 19 times in a row at the start of 13/14 when Sakho was completely healthy and not injured.
Since 2008/09, when both players became regular starters in senior football, Sakho has only missed 22 more games due to injury. Is anyone going to claim that 22 games over 6 seasons is that much? Or so much that one is much more injury prone than the other? Or so much that one must play over the other regardless of quality? Give me a break.
So not only do we know Sakho is a much better player than Lovren, not only do we know better footballers tend to start over lesser footballers, not only do we know the difference in treatment of Rodgers signings to committee signings, not only do we know that Rodgers himself has selected injury prone players in the past, but now we also know that Sakho is not that much more injury prone than Lovren at all.
Any pretense of pure motives for the selection of Lovren can stop now.
Going back to your comment above – no-one is saying you should criticise for the sake of it. You’ve built that straw man argument yourself, showing a lack of class and a lack of security. What people are saying, and thankfully it appears I am no longer in a tiny minority, is that the lack of critical thinking, criticisms and lack of balance in your writing (seriously, do yourself a favour – look at every piece you’ve written and ask yourself are you trying to be a serious journalist, or a fluff piece writer better suited to having a job at the clubs website, or for the North Korean government) and at this website hurts both quality and above all, credibility. Well it does with those who have intelligence anyway. Admittedly intelligent football/LFC fans may not be your target audience. You say “You can read plenty of those kind of articles in plenty of places” – yes, you can. But not on TAW.
Finally, your last sentence sums so much up.
You insinuate two things – one, that because Mweni has a minority viewpoint, Mweni must be automatically wrong (tyranny of the majority is a very fitting concept on TAW I’ll grant you) and two, that arguing that we might be better having as our left back a natural left back capped by Spain, instead of a 19 year old centre back just arrived from Charlton, is simply “something to moan about” – as if that isn’t a legitimate view or a position that could be well argued.
Once again, as soon as a contributor on here is criticised, even in the most timid of manners, they get all precious and behave in the manner of an adolescent rejected by their crush, lashing out and making no sense. It’s cringeworthy. Top writers and journo’s don’t do that, but Melissa and Phil do. I wonder what could possibly be the difference.
I wish I could look forward to a well though out and mature response. I wish.
It’s a blog, not a newspaper article. Of COURSE there’s a bias. Were you expecting differently.
You make a good point about Borini vis a vis some difficult circumstances off the pitch with his ill mother-in-law. Frankly, if he’s on contract and unwilling to move on for that reason, I don’t blame him one iota.
But you are dead wrong about Balotelli, Carroll, and Sahin. Fact is that they are LAZY and INCONSISTENT both in training and on the pitch. This isn’t just acknowledged among LFC observers, it’s known throughout Europe. All three of those lads would rather party all night and call in sick than take care of themselves and do everything they can to improve as players. To somehow peg Rodgers as “mistreating” them is laughable. They failed because they were sold on their own hype without accepting that natural skill is a perishable commodity, that it takes hard work, dedication, and sacrifice to become a consistent force.
You misunderstand a lot of my comment.
For a start, just because Melissa does not write for a newspaper does not mean she has to be biased. I know all writers are humans and have in built biases, but when you write and 99% of your content can be placed within one circle on a venn diagram, you have an issue. Especially when many of your articles fly in the face of mounting evidence, like for most of the 2014/15 season. And it’s not just what she has written, or what TAW has written, it is what they haven’t written. That is just as important.
Secondly, lets examine Rodger’s treatment of certain players and how it had negative consequences for us.
Andy Carroll. Told by Rodgers at training he’d play every game with Suarez. Then told on the phone he should leave. Happened more than once. The effects? An unmotivated Andy Carroll and a transfer fee less than what we could have got if Rodgers had got more out of him and wasn’t so open (in the end) about wanting rid.
Nuri Sahin. Player of the year at title winning Dortmund. Bought by Madrid. Fails to settle. Comes to us. Brought in as a centre mid. Rodgers plays him as a 10. The effects? His form suffers. Our results suffer.
Mario Balotelli. Continually played on his own. Continually played in a formation that didn’t suit him. Given limited chances in a 2. In and out of the side. Despite being proven quality, winning leagues and champions leagues and starring for his country, Rodgers never threatens to get anywhere near the best from Balotelli. Worst mistreatment was Rodgers singling him out for criticism to make sure papers wrote about that and not Rodgers’ performance. Rodgers even threw him under the bus after the defeat at Crystal Palace when Balotelli was injured. He even went at lengths to explain how Balotelli wouldn’t mark at corners but now he would. Why make that public? Other than for Rodgers to feed his own ego of course? Rodgers has ostracised him to get rid of him. The effects? Awful goal return. Poor performances. No motivation. A return to the old Mario off the pitch, who had cleaned up his act upon his arrival at Melwood. Now as we want him off the books clubs know we are desperate, meaning it will cost us money that it otherwise wouldn’t have.
I could go on. I have no need. Let me clear though, I’m not saying these players couldnt have taken more responsibility themselves. Carroll could have cut down drinking. Mario might have stayed motivated to be professional regardless of Rodgers.
But the point is their boss’ mismanagement of them was not conducive to getting the best from them, and ultimately the job of every manager is to get the best from each and every one of his staff at all times. Rodgers failed to do that.
Padraig, whilst you make some valid points, although saying Lucas has been treated the same as three clear outcasts just because Rodgers doesn’t think he’s a part of his best 11 players is a stretch too far, there is a real unpleasantness to some of your writing that has finally worn me down to comment.
To start a personal attack on Melissa and her writing is pretty disgusting. Not only are her pieces well-informed, well-written, interesting, and passionate, she has the gall to be positive! I, like many, watch football and support Liverpool for enjoyment. If there was no enjoyment to be had from this or any other sport, it would be odd to invest so much time in it. As a result, when I go to read about Liverpool, I enjoy reading pieces from like-minded people, that will look for the good in a situation, whilst still retaining a balanced view. Your post here, and many others, seem to come from a much more negative viewpoint, regarding the club, owners, manager (not a Rodgers fan by any chance?), players, the writers on this site, and the site itself. Personally, it’s not what I want to read, but we all have different viewpoints / personalities. However, the personal criticism of a writer, who is providing pieces for our enjoyment, is completely unacceptable.
That may have been more ‘heated’ than it could have been (and I certainly am NOT one to ‘preach’ cool-headed stoicism, far from it) but, to me, it was substantively a tour-de-force. Three cheers to its author for that.
Agreed… should have mentioned about the source.
I don’t have ‘a source.’ I work in, with, around the club and speak to many people about many things.
Hi Melissa, if you are saying Joe Gomez is a better player thats your right but you have not taken into consideration the pedigree of Moreno. This is a player who a not inconsiderable amount of money was spent on, surely its the managers duty to make the most of the resources available to him.
As far as moaning is concerned you are casting doubts on the professionalism of people based on what? I don’t complain for the sake of complaining but the tone of your article sounds to me like ship up or shape out based on rumours and social media posts.
Regarding Lucas you need a good mix of players and there was an analysis of the squad and the current squad lacks experienced players.
Ok, so you have sources, plural.
“I work in, with, around the club and speak to many people about many things” seems imprecise (enough).
In what capacity do you work “with … the club”, if you don’t mind my asking?
We need to have some basis for treating your accounts of what transpires in the training ground, etc. as credible or not credible, other than whether we agree with them, or whether they render what are otherwise inexplicable goings on and statements more plausible. In the final analysis, we have to have some basis for establishing their veracity.
Balotelli is definitely getting it in the nuts today ! this piece and the Daily Mail piece may couldn’t make it any plainer about their collective low professional standards !
Lets hope Desmond Douglas, Peach Pants and the Poser finally F’#ff
Excellent piece Melissa – very thought provoking. I also admire the fact you engage in sensible debate/discussion when questioned in the comments section. Well done – keep it up.
I try, but sometimes people just want to argue for the sake of it. Or look for an angle to vent their dislike of the manager/FSG/whoever they have it in for. Lucas is not mentioned in the article above, yet the majority of the comments focus on him…
Boss article. We can’t entertain the idea of carrying any dead weight about the place if we want to compete at the level we’re striving for. A good sign if Rodgers has decided he’s just gonna be ruthless with clowns who are pissing about on his time and everyone else’s.
That said, I’d keep Lucas cos he seems sound and a professional.
Except he doesn’t want to unless he’s first choice and clearly he isn’t. Much like Gerrard who didn’t want to sit on the bench, time to move on.
Excellent article. Attitude is important. Balotelli is like the kid at school who hates PE. Last on the pitch for the warm-up and apparently on a go-slow. He, Enrique and the limpet-like Borini have been drawing good money for nothing whilst posting grinning pictures of their not-so-private lives. On the other hand, Flanno and Lucas are exemplars of what we should be trying to encourage in our players.
Best piece I’ve read in ages.
Theres this thing about Balotelli, every month/2 months on a slow news day a journalist will put an article out about Balotelli, a) Repeating things that have been said a million times or b) putting out some fresh material (i.e.Balotelli knocking one past Jones just before kick off in a training kick about) and people will swallow it up and kick off talking about how the guy is a “cancer”/”myth” or whatever, every single time. I mean, its never really a big daeal.
Yeah, some of his actions are a bit juvenile and yes, unprofessional, but how does it become such a shitstorm every time? The way some are so eager to put a boot in is actually shameful.
His teammates can come out , one after the other, saying “He’s an okay guy/ The media blows things out of proportion” yet people will still want to get their shot in, “He’s a twat/He’s a cancer/Bad influence”. Some really should just stop making drama.
Yeah, that’s exactly what this article is. It’s not about Milner, Hendo, any of the other players mentioned, the coaching staff or even about creating a culture of excellence.
It’s a column about Balotelli, to make drama. The same Balotelli whom I would love nothing more than to see the very best of.
Not necessarily aimed at you. Alas, I’m sorry if thats how it came across.
Although I do feel you were a bit harsh on Enrique. When he’s fit I think he’s a better left back than both Gomez and Moreno (I didn’t watch many Sevilla matches, so I’m not sure about what he was bringing to the table when he was there), maybe slower, but overall, I think he’s better.
Everyone is allowed to have an opinion, but Enrique as better than Gomez and Enrique is laughable. I’d say potentially he is, but talk of potential at 28 is past it. He should have been, but he isn’t.
I have to feel for Moreno. With Manquillo gone, Enrique is the only other Spaniard at the club, so with whom else is he going to spend most of his time at the club? I’m sure he’s working hard on his English, but Enrique is the most obvious companion. Very hard done if this is is affecting his opportunities at the position.
To that end, I certainly hope he doesn’t get discouraged. Young Joe Gomez has obviously done very well to begin the season (and believe me, I hope he continues to do so!), but I have to imagine his inexperience may cause some growing pains at some point. I just hope Moreno is ready to perform when his time comes. (also Enrique can sod off)
Hey Nick, it’s not about being friends with him – it’s about falling into the trap of fooling around like him.
Poor Joe Allen. If ever there was an article made to highlight the wee little man, it would be one about hard work in training and a desire to constantly learn and improve. He didn’t set his price tag and certainly never asked to called a “Welsh Xavi.” Never complains, never shoots his mouth off, yet our supporters freely smash him upside the head.
While historic revisionism has Suarez nearly winning the league single-handedly, something he actually tried to do in games under Dalglish, the real secret to our success was a massive buy-in to Rodgers’ collective ethos, the sum greater than the parts. A limited player like Allen exemplified this, as did Flanagan and even Henderson (who many complain wouldn’t make other top squads).
Personally, I really hope we return to a real meritocracy and this sense of collective.
Walter, agree with a lot of what you’ve said on Allen.
“Someone once told me..” style of writing is just sniping when that is all you have to back up claims about peoples work ethic and professionalism.
Mario was a known trouble maker and Rodgers boasted that it was him who decided to get him to Liverpool. So, what changed there?
When Borini was in Sunderland, he got a lot of praise for being a “true professional”. Either somene is lying, or Borini acts different when not in Liverpool. Neither possibility sounds very good.
Great piece ,especially pertinent now the Scouse heart is disappearing from the first team.
Don’t understand how fans still support the not-so-super Mario. Mancini and Mourinho both tried and failed to harness his considerable ability and now Rodgers gets it in the neck – why never Mario? Just imagine how good he’d be if he had Gerrard or Keegan’s drive and professionalism.
Balotelli was a panic buy but Borini is a bit more puzzling. Brendan obviously worked with him before he signed for Liverpool and spoke in glowing terms about his character and commitment. Presumably the big move went to his head?
This article is obviously biased in support of our beloved club. However like every job some Manager will have people who they favour more than others. I do agree with some of the comments on Balotelli with regards to his attitude in training some times however can you honestly say that half of square are in training two hours before the start to prepare for their training… maybe a few like james Milner but not many. Equally are Saying that Lucas does not train hard enough is the reason he doesn’t play??? Let’s not kid ourselves here. Ballotelli you maybe able to excuse away his absent from the squad by not Lucas. It’s does pay to be liked by your manager.
Where is that suggestion at all about Lucas in the article? Read the comments above, and read Neil’s piece on him.
BR, historically has been a huge fan of Lucas. The club want him to stay, but can’t guarantee him regular playing time. He wants to start games. I’d love to have him stay, but wouldn’t begrudge him wanting to move on. And after eight years of service, neither would the club.
Can’t find a lot to disagree with here. Winners almost invariably have a good attitude aligned with ability. That’s why we couldn’t win the title under Roy Evans. He bought players without that crucial winning mentality who infected those in the squad that did. Remember a story about Ruddock getting revenge on Robbie for something he did by shitting in his trainers. And,of course, the infamous coin game played during matches. “Win or lose we’re on the booze”.
Interesting that Moreno’s been quoted defending Balo today. He also says the right thing about getting back in and making a contribution, but can’t help thinking he should’ve swerved any comment about Mario. Makes him sound like he’s condoning his antics (even though I’m sure he’s not).
There is an obvious problem with the ‘pecking order’ of central midfielders then.
BR (hopefully) is the one deciding the rank order of central midfielders.
He is the one who told us himself about his preferred midfield set up, the 1-2, with a controller and the two ahead of him, one being a ‘runner’ and one more ‘creative’ but both having to do a lot of vertical running.
For his ‘1’/controller role, the experiment with Gerrard in that spot notwithstanding, including in the diamond, Lucas cannot possibly be ranked below Can and Allen. That’s just irrational.
And if we’re going to go with a 2-1 midfield, in a 4231 or one of BR’s unbalanced 442s, Lucas is an excellent choice as part of the ‘2’. No real basis for ranking him below Can at this stage, let alone below Henderson and Milner.
We cannot just “accept” BR’s pecking order as “beyond reproach” or not subject to critique.
I much prefer Gomez, he’s just a natural defender. Moreno makes me nervous, granted we looked pretty anemic attacking on the left on Sunday.
We need to keep Lucas for a lot of reasons but the most important is him keeping Coutinho, Firmino and now Allan happy. He seems like such a great mentor to these young samba stars.
Great read Melissa.
There seems to be much consternation among supporters on this site (and others) regarding Lucas’ supposed position in the ‘pecking order’ and how Rodgers has not treated him fairly and given him a fair shot. But as noted by many, a pure specialist defensive midfielder has never been part of his ideal tactical setup, given that he has not even made a decent attempt to sign one his his many transfer windows as manager.
Now, supporters can debate the merits of a specialist DM for LFC to their hearts content, but it seems pretty apparent that he sees his midfield as more dynamic and fluid which Lucas clearly isn’t. Furthermore, his injury record also sets him on a ‘fragility level’ not too far from Sakho or Sturridge. In fact, I remember the wheels falling off spectacularly during the superb defensive run of 2014/2015 shortly after injuries to both Lucas and Sakho, two players that we hugely relied on during the middle parts of last season. There is little sense in basing important components of the spine of your team on players that may get crocked for considerable periods of time during important parts of the season.
Rodgers himself has spoken of the need for consistency and partnerships to grow within his team. I strongly believe that that was the basis of the brilliant run of 2013/2014. Players instinctively knew where each other would be. I doubt any supported would disagree with the need for this regardless of who the manager is.
“but it seems pretty apparent that he sees his midfield as more dynamic and fluid which Lucas clearly isn’t. ”
Assumes facts not in evidence. It only seems “pretty apparent” to those who wish it to be so.
Did we imagine the interview Rodgers gave to the supporters groups early doors, during which he gave a detailed presentation of his preferred midfield setup, and during which he identified Lucas Leiva as ideal for the ‘1’/controller role/position in his 1-2 midfield?
Which part of playing in a 2-1 midfield as one of the ‘2’ are Milner, Henderson and Can better than Lucas in?
How many games have we used a 2-1 midfield which worked well when Lucas was not one of the ‘2’? [The game vs Stoke on Sunday was not a case of a 2-1 midfield; anyone who actually watched the match carefully (i.e. not live or live on T.V.) knows that].
It is not a matter of Lucas wanting “guaranteed starts”. That’s not how Lucas operates. He just doesn’t want to be disrespected by having folks who are patently inferior in his position on the pitch. Henderson is a very good midfielder (he’s not a great midfielder, no matter how many times people big him up). So is Milner. Neither one of them comes even close to being as good or better as Lucas is as the ‘1’ in a 1-2 central midfield setup. If Rodgers cannot see that, then he’s a bad football manager.
Can may very well become (I hope he does, I think he will) a top-notch ‘controller’. He’s not there yet. No way should he be ahead of Lucas for that position. At best, they should be rotated in that role.
Allen is closer to being a good-enough controller. He has superior mobility and running, more ‘attacking’ output than Lucas. Of course he does, since he’s not actually a ‘controller’ but a ‘runner’. But he’s good enough in receiving passes well and in building the attack methodically from the back. Defensively though, and especially aerially, he is not as good as Lucas.
Nice article. Clear lines through the club. Well done on following and responding to the comments as well. I am sorry to read that Lucas has been bumped down the list apparently. On the other hand, by what you say, at least Brendan has been honest and clear with him.
can Lucas be relied upon to stay fit though…his seasons are constantly being interrupted by niggling injuries since the cruciate. I can understand his grievance over falling behind Allen though
Apparently Borini does not have a sickly mother in law.
I have this on extremely well-sourced information.
There is a sure-fire way for the club to “get rid” of any player now under contract of whose services the club no longer wishes to avail itself:
Offer him, up front, the net present value of the payments remaining on his existing contract, including any and all appearance and performance-related bonuses, including loyalty bonuses.
Anything else, including publicizing real or concocted ‘stories’ about his attitude, non-training-ground practices, life-style, associational life, social-media presence, consumption and investment expenditures, hairstyles, lifestyle, etc, is small-time and ultimately immoral nonsense.
Some on TAW present themselves and self-identify as Reds (of the other variety), as men (and women?) of the Left, etc. I am one of those, as well (a man of the Left). Think of our players as “labor”. Full pay to the last day, complete and to the ‘t’ fulfillment of the work contract by management/employer.
Just because we love and identify with the employer doesn’t give us carte blanche to ‘pick and choose’ some employees for abuse and ill-treatment.
Thanks Melissa, insightful article into the behind into the behind the scenes going ons. Any idea what Benteke’s attitude in training is like?