Rebuilding the Liverpool mosaic: Brendan Rodgers on the brink
By Matthew Dunne-Miles
It’s early August and Brendan Rodgers stands outside the Anfield locker room. Nervously he grabs the door handle, takes a deep breath and opens it with trepidation, ready to dazzle the team with some Socrates in order to prepare them for a season without European football.
As the door creaks open and he steps inside, a tumbleweed slowly rolls past his feet; there is deafening silence occasionally disrupted by the drip, drip, drip of a loose shower faucet somewhere in the distance.
'Is…is anybody there?' Rodgers enquires, his accent, concocted from bits of Sean Connery, Gerry Adams and the Go Compare man, echoes off the changing room walls.
He makes his way over to Jamie Carragher’s empty locker through a sea of dry ice, whilst vibrato guitar begins to play in the background. Rodgers presses his hands and face against the cold steel door and closes his eyes.
'Et tu Carra?' he whispers before looking down and spotting a note addressed to ‘The Gaffer’ on the bench below. He carefully unfolds it, reads the words he never wished to see and puts his head in his hands as the note drops into the mist below in slow motion.
'To Brendan, we've left. Sincerely, all your talent'
A new beginning for Liverpool?
Today Liverpool may have put in the most impressive performance we’ve seen this season. After being thrown aside at Anfield by West Brom, there were plenty of questions surrounding Brendan Rogers’ project. While we can’t speak to what Brendan may have said in the dressing room after the match on Monday, something clicked today, and it didn’t leave a trace of evidence that it was a fluke.
Phillippe Coutinho’s first Liverpool start sparked new life into the squad, and while a spot in Europe may be a reach at this point in the season, can we expect Gerrard, Suarez, and company to continue to improve? Consistency has been a real issue, especially when you consider that this was Liverpool’s first Premier League win against an opponent in the top half of the table. Where do you think Liverpool will be sitting in mid-May?
We’re happy to bring you our first feast of football for your ears in 2011 with the 8th episode of the A Football Report Podcast. This time on the AFR Podcast we were grateful to have Iain Macintosh (UK correspondent for The New Paper) in the figurative AFR house alongside Oliver Sparrow (London), Dominic Vieira (Lancaster), Eric Beard (Boston), and Darshan Joshi (Kuala Lumpur). Topics included an insight on Iain’s world of sport journalism, the Kenny Dalglish appointment and Gerrard’s red card, contrasting the respective ownerships of Liverpool and Blackburn, Manchester United’s debt and Fergie’s successor, Cristiano Ronaldo’s agent claiming he will be the best player in the history of football, and Messi winning the Ballon d’Or and his fate to be at Barcelona. We also mention Ronaldinho’s affection for beer and pies and why the Brazilian would have loved growing up in Wigan, amongst other things.
“Four Offsides and a Penalty” by Jon Horner
Just when Wayne thought he had everything figured out, he couldn’t deny is deep-seeded feelings for Fergie.
By Oliver Sparrow, writing from London
Tonight at Wembley a resurgent England face a Montenegro side who have perhaps unexpectedly won their first three qualifying games. The side from former Yugoslavia lie top of the table with 9 points after consecutive 1-0 victories over Wales, Bulgaria and Switzerland. Their most recent win has left manager of the Swiss team Ottmar Hitzfeld in a precarious position after calls for his resignation from the Swiss media and fans alike.
After splitting their international football partnership with neighbouring Serbia, Montenegro have made swift progress up the FIFA rankings, rising from 199th to 40th in three short years, and that position is likely to be even higher after victory over Switzerland. Their performance so far in their group is a far cry from that of their 2010 World Cup qualification campaign in which they finished 5th in their group below lowly Cyprus.
By Amy Quinn, writing from Dublin
The eve is upon us, and looking around me, I find it inherently strange that there are Liverpool fans with calm heads. No other game gives me quite the same sense of uneasiness, a knot in my stomach. Obviously, it’s a wonderful match to win, but it’s a difficult, if never very surprising, match to lose. Coming from a town and a family that seems to contain representation from both of England’s most successful sides, there will be no shortage of banter tomorrow. My contribution to said banter will be delivered from under some piece of furniture, probably, as I shelter from the fallout.
Somehow, nothing quite stresses me like this fixture. I am never optimistic about our chances, even when there is every reason to be. Most of my childhood was spent only watching these North Lancashire derby ties. Certainly it is a match that raises pulses and sizzles with intensity. Some people enjoy those matches that are like a stretched elastic - bursting with kinetic energy, ready to pop at any given moment. For me, it means constant nausea and near-heart attacks. Yes, I do take football too seriously.