IF YOU haven’t read Michael Calvin’s Living on the Volcano, you should – particularly if you happen to be a football manager. It acts as an essential survival guide for those attempting to operate in the most perilous of sporting environments in the year 2015.
Emotionally, the book is exhausting and that’s a good thing because it strips away any of the glamour and makes you realise that rather than being paid too much, perhaps football managers aren’t paid enough. The sooner we all stop judging other people by what they earn, the better: otherwise we will continue to co-exist in a very jealous and ultimately very unhappy place indeed.
Anyway, as I step down from the lectern and hurl the scripture into a bin, I ask you, in which other industry would someone move home more than 30 times just to find work?
Ian Holloway nursed his wife Kim through cancer in that time, before they had kids; twins Eve and Chloe are deaf. For the last three years of his playing career spent at Queens Park Rangers, Holloway commuted daily from Bristol to London, a 250-mile round trip, so the children could attend a specialist school in Bristol. As a result, he developed severe sciatica in his back.
You find out much you did not realise. From a Liverpool perspective, there is an illuminating interview with Brendan Rodgers, which from reading between the lines of discussion must have taken place late last year, when Rodgers still believed he could nurture the talent out of Mario Balotelli.
The chapter begins with Rodgers talking about how he enjoyed running around West Derby in the early evenings after training at Melwood had long finished. There, alone, he found solace, passing homes where he could smell the mince cooking in the kitchens of families like the one he grew up in; working class folk.
Calvin is clever here because he veers away from dewy-eyed anecdotes and gets to the core of what makes Rodgers, Rodgers. There is one particular quote which struck me profoundly, where he describes the last five years of his life: an appointment as manager of Swansea City, the death of both parents in quick succession, moving to Liverpool and the break up of his marriage after two decades. This would be a lot to take in for anyone, regardless of whether some of the pressure was brought on by himself.
I read this chapter after Rodgers was sacked by Liverpool. The book was published in August, so although Calvin like many others may have seen it coming, it exists as a stark reminder of how swiftly a manager’s position can change. I finished with Rodgers feeling sorry for him: that it didn’t work out in long-term because he clearly once had all of what he would describe as “tools” to be great before losing sight of what made him the most exciting young manager in Britain in the first place.
Through reading the book, it nevertheless seemed obvious to me that Rodgers wanted to be perceived in a certain way: with a degree of varnish around him. I will always remember sitting in the press room at Old Trafford after his Liverpool team trounced Manchester United. It was 3-0 but quite easily could have been seven had it not been for David de Gea. Rodgers was so cool and while he was praised for that in some quarters, I thought at the time it might have been better for him to live a little and bask in the moment of the victory – at least give us a smile or some form of celebration on the touchline, rather than the one-armed salute he often offered. He was too choreographed and made me think of him reading one of those FA coaching manuals where there are probably passages that tell you how to react.
The quest to remain calm for Rodgers – or any manager, in fact – must surely be the most draining mission of them all. Perhaps that is why Jürgen Klopp goes a bit crazy on the touchline: the release of energy is good for the body and the soul.
In football, like in society, there is a desire to categorise everyone and everything. Clichés act as convenient shorthand to convey ideas and concepts. Germans like Klopp, for example, may be efficient and ruthless, which provides a useful explanation for their ability at penalty shoot-outs without precluding much admiration for their technical prowess.
Klopp, however, as I have written elsewhere, is a romantic. He freely admits it and it explains why he is now Liverpool’s manager rather than maybe Chelsea’s. Yet that does not mean he is a romantic and that alone: his character is nuanced.
We are currently witnessing the pragmatist in him. Imagine being appointed to one of the most eminent jobs in world football, at a place where ambition has not been realised for a quarter of a century. Imagine having injuries confirmed to three of your strikers within days of your arrival. Imagine the club’s most promising young defender and the club’s most promising young midfielder returning from international duty and reporting that they are not able to play for a while as well.
Outwardly, Klopp’s personality is obvious. Yet inwardly, there appears to be a calm. He is building Liverpool from the back and despite fielding more or less the same personnel as Rodgers, suddenly Liverpool do not look like conceding very often from open play. The counter-pressing in midfield is working in midfield from a defensive point of view but it has not yet contributed very much in an attack, which is without proven quality anyway.
There is enough to be encouraged by already and even if Liverpool lose to Bournemouth at home tonight – and it is a possibility they might, with Klopp giving home debuts to Connor Randall, Cameron Brannagan, João Carlos Teixeira after the young trio impressed him in training – it is unlikely the manager will get too despondent in the stink that might inevitably follow.
Klopp’s most pertinent comment of all came on Sunday when he described the emotional wreckage before him following Southampton’s late equaliser:
“We conceded one goal and it felt like the end of the world,” he said, reminding that there was still enough time remaining to go and win. “This…” he added, shaking his head, “…has to change.”
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda-Photo
Like The Anfield Wrap on Facebook
I think our defensive set up has been good under Klopp with the exception of Mignolet and crosses however, i have realised that it is not just him but that most goalies in the PL dont come for crosses.
Our goal in the Derby was scored from a corner by Ings 3 yards out with the goalie on his line in no mans land, since then i have started to look at other goalies apart from our own and i am amazed at how many stay on the line and give away goals without it being portrayed as their fault, when it clearly is. I have been amazed at the number of goalies that do not command the 6 yard box never mind the penalty area and yet if they get beat it is the defenders fault, i must have missed this new directive that states goalies must stay on their line but if you are 6 foot plus with your arms out you should be a good foot above the head of any player and i dont understand why this is being ignored. How much easier is it for defenders if a goalie comes for a cross and catches it and even if they miss there is a good chance they win a foul and even if they dont they should do enough to put off any attacking player.
the old adage that the keeper comes and cleans everyone out is wrong these days. GKs who catch crosses or corners generally do so because the defence had held its line and he has 6 yards of space to work in.
But you are quite right in that this seems to be across all GKs, not just Mignolet – who usually has no space to work in anyway as Skrtel is standing on his toes.
I’m currently reading the same book and have just passed the Rodgers – and Martinez – chapter. What stood out to me was how much Rodgers wanted to be in control of his own image and how he was being portrayed by the media. It appeared he always had one eye on the future, possibly all too aware that managers have limited shelf lives and it was likely he would have to be applying for a new job in the not too distant future.
There’s also a level of cv building going on it appears. The learning of Spanish, visits to European training grounds read like a calculated move to make him more employable rather than just a hunger and pursuit for knowledge.
Not that this is a bad thing. In a “normal” environment this kind of self-improvement would be lauded but in the high profile world of management, with microphones recording your every word and cameras snapping away it’s easy to take a snarky view of him as a careerist bullshitter.
I applaud him personally and wish him all the best for the future. I’d love him to try his hand in Spain, be ridiculously successful and then maybe come back playing that brilliant football in a few years after the dust’s settled and the fans have taken the plane back to the hangar.
I’d say that Klopp is showing a similar level of self-awareness and image management. His is of the cheery, relaxed fanboy more interested in seeing some smiles than actual results. I’d say though that this image is just as clearly crafted and managed as Rodgers. He’s come in, seen chins on the floor and players panicking trying to hold on to a lead and home fans getting on players’ backs for every misplaced pass and is using this persona to remind everyone that it’s just a game, shit happens and it’ll all come good in the end.
Watch his reaction to Saints’ equaliser; he turns around, shrugs his shoulders and gives a wry smile. Similarly he’s clapping like a giddy seal if we even win a throw in, encouraging the crowd to join in. Inside he might be up fretting about how to manage the squad through the fixtures, who to replace and how to get past Bournemouth but outwardly he’ll be all big grins, pats on the shoulder and promises to take the lads to the Blue Star after the game.
Corners let’s tackle this issue in a few area’s
1 Keepers should come and catch
2 We should be playing atleast two players up the pitch coutinho lallana not great in the air. This reduces the second phase from.corners and also gives an offensive threat
3. Players blocking runners instead of marking space a change Klopp has already been working on.
4. A player should be placed on the outer corner of the box on the opposite side to the corner Check how many time the ball goes to this point from clearances.
WHILE ON KEEPERS WILL THE REFEREES PLEASE APPLY THE 6 SECOND RULE this would change games quite radically not allowing defending teams time to put players in the areas the keeper is kicking to.
On Rodgers he always was striving to create a perception of the shoes fitting. Unlike Klopp that came in and seemed to be bigger in stature than the club Somewhat like Shanks did.