LEADERSHIP; it’s easy isn’t it? Means nothing doesn’t it? We have all heard the refrain of the washed up, over the hill, jobs for the boys brigade banging on about the players needing to sort it out for themselves — “once they cross that white line it’s out of the manager’s control, the players have to sort things out for themselves — his job is done”.
These naysayers would have you believe that no manager in the history of football or any other business has ever impacted successfully on the fortunes of his team. Christ, The Hodge, the poster boy for absenteeism on the touchline has only just been found out and chased out of town for being a massive chancer and some soft get will give him another go sooner or later and probably reward him with a basement full of watches so he can swim around in them like Scrooge McDuck, dressed in just his socks, with his dead albino otter of a cock weighing him down so he has to wear arms bands (with an extra one round his lad) just to stay afloat. What a way to die eh; drowning in a sea of Hublots.
Think about all of the places you have worked and how many managers or chief executives you have worked under. How many of them have shown leadership, proper leadership? How many of them have been a leader? It is a difficult thing to quantify isn’t it? Look at the definition:
“The action of leading a group of people or an organisation, or the ability to do this” (Oxford English Dictionary)
It’s not that simple, though, is it? By the first part of that definition, anyone can do it but that isn’t the case is it? Think of all of the bosses you have had. How many of them were actually any good? How many of them cared about how you got on? How many of them talked shite? Seriously, how many of them used empty phrases to hide their inadequacies; talked in circles to answer a question without actually answering it yet somehow revealing everything they wanted to hold close?
How do you even know if the manager you have got is any good in the first place? Think about the managers in the Premier League at the minute and think about the ones who have been bulleted. The main thing that comes across for me is the need for them to be authentic, genuine, and true to their word. Look at Roberto Martinez, look at latter years Brendan Rodgers; young bright coaches, with bright ideas and some leadership qualities, undone by their ability to chat shite and their inability to be authentic. By the ends of their tenures, both men had lost what it was that they believed in, what they were trying to sell. Send across a confused message and your team will be confused.
In comparison look at Kloppo. Look at what he has done at Liverpool. You want to know what leadership looks like? Look at Kloppo. Look at his team on Friday night and look back at Kloppo. Look at him at on the pitch after the final whistle. Look at him hugging every player. Look at him deflecting the praise and the adulation of the fans on to his team. Look at him treating every player, whether they played 20 seconds or 94 minutes, the same. Look at him talking to his captain. Look at the way the Reds set up in the game. Every player knows what is expected of them in every situation. Player X moves in this position, Player Y moves to within five yards of him to receive the ball, as does Player Z, or A, or B or C. Look at the way the shape was designed to close down Chelsea’s passing lines. Look at how many times their players lifted their heads up for help and had to start again, or hit the line, or force a pass that wasn’t on.
Look at the way we responded to Diego Costa. Kloppo spoke about him before the game in complimentary terms but also said that our centre halves wouldn’t be scared of him. If someone with less credence says that the papers twist his words for a headline, claim he is disrespecting him or try to start a phoney war. It is Jürgen Klopp who is saying it, though, and because of his authenticity everyone accepts it as fact, including Costa and our centre halves. As a consequence, our lads aren’t interested in playing any silly games, or getting into a battle, they just get to the ball first and let him know he is in a game. They don’t act the faux hard-case like Martin Skrtel did for years. They just win the ball, hard and early and fair and take no notice of him. Klopp and his leadership skills allow that to happen.
The thing about leadership is that it comes in many forms. Jordan Henderson has suffered more than most from people questioning whether he is good enough or has the necessary character to be a leader for Liverpool. It is fair to say that coming into this year he was under pretty intensive pressure from his own fan base to prove his case. He spent the majority of last year and half of the year before injured and yet people seem content to write him off as a no mark and not fit to captain the Reds.
It seems a little convenient to forget that it was his sending off against Manchester City in 2014 that probably cost us the title rather than anything else, such was his level of performance at the time and the lack of an alternative that could fill the multitude of gaps present in Rodgers’s midfield. I hear people slagging his posture and gait as a reason why he isn’t good enough for Liverpool and I instantly wish I was Gandalf the White Wizard who could zap them with a clever spell to rid them of their Alex Ferguson-induced stupidity.
Henderson was poor against Burnley but he has showed balls, character and fight to come back stronger in every game since until Friday night when he and Georginio Wijnaldum ran the show. Lashing one in the top corner like you mean it every now and again doesn’t half help convince the dopes, though. He might not be Graeme Souness, he might not be Steven Gerrard, but he is good enough for me. Go ‘ed, Hendo.
We roll on to Hull at home (I’m skipping Derby, it doesn’t count — it won’t help us win the league) and there is a glint in the eyes of everyone that counts. We the counted all know that we are on the march; we all know that we are a team that plays the Liverpool way, that will fight for every point, every goal, every cheer. We all know that we are a team with leadership coursing through our veins, more leadership than we even know what to do with.
We are Liverpool, we are Kloppo’s Liverpool, and that is worth its weight in gold.
Come on Redmen, let’s get into these.
Let’s go Reds.