Don’t know if it’s just me bein’ daft again but this Swanseathing has been rumbling away, riling me; the inevitability of it salting those wounds where my idealised wotsits should be – used to be.
Brendan Rodgers, quite possibly the best Brit or near-Brit manager (depending on your facility for nationalistically-motivated squinting/cartography) active in the Premier League outside of the embarrassment of riches zone, is reportedly, as I write, moving from foreplay to full-on copulation – should that be capitulation, I wonder? – with/to the Scouse Sex Machine. He’s coming red all over. And whilst I can understand his urges and have some real respect for the comparative restraint and dignity and management of this lurv-match between Boy Most Likely To and Club Arguably Most in Need Of, I feel like a swan snagged in fishing tackle, I do.
Because Brendan had been showing signs of being the one who snubbed that power trip, that lucre-slide, that soul-deflating slither into uncleanbutokayintoxicating Exposureville. Brendan had been foot-perfectly the model man and manager for just a few, impressive and now critical seasons, guiding ‘unfashionable Swansea’ into an historically gleeful wonderland/cash-rich hinterland where they routinely outplayed Premier League clubs theoretically twice their size and power. Like David tattooing a startling phallus via precision-flung gravel upon the forehead of Goliath FC; or something. Something startling and surprisingly er… attractive.
For the Swans, the Unmighty Swans really have lacerated the pomp and presumption of allegedly senior clubs by playing proper footie whilst their betters sweated and hoofed increasingly frustratedly around. (Liverpool FC being a decent and recent example of this very same, on a day that may have limbered up the trigger-finger of one J W Henry of the already fast-twitch-fibre-heavy U S of A, perhaps?) And Rodgers without doubt has been key to this triumph of skill-rich Cymro-Good over flaccidly underachieving Evil. Because he more than nearly anyone you may care to listen to a) talks a good game b) delivers. So that for a year or so some of us have been trying to un-etch-a-sketch the picture that now presents; a straight-forward and demystified purchase; of Brendan; by one of the big boys.
Liverpool FC do fall into this latter category. Certainly they revel in a genuine football history – one likely to be pretty incompletely understood by the folks that own the club, you suspect – not that this is a rarity amongst Premiership franchises. However in recent times many were genuinely saddened by the failure – for that, actually, is what it was – of a genuinely Liverpool Man (Dalglish) to drive the club forward, thereby precipitating the current negotiations…
which are confirmed as being completed – or rather the move itself is – at that moment…ho hum…
But perhaps most viscerally central to real Liverpool fans has been the general malaise – playing/reputation/actual – the Anfield club had dawdled or staggered or been led into. I have been heavily critical of Dalglish’s bitterness and frankly, his inability to motivate or inspire or really shape his individuals and his team. I stand by those opinions, harsh though they are. King Kenny, despite being rightly loved for his genius as a player and for his closeness and empathy with fans post Hillsborough in particular, seemed lost amongst the issues – political and strategic – rather than boss in command of them. His relations with a press he held in contempt were to be understood perhaps but not respected. Dalglish manifestly substantially reduced the inflow of goodwill and sympathy for the club and for the arguments it may have been trying to make over Suarez, as an example; increasing the sense of dissatisfaction around Anfield already welling up in response to poor on-field performances.
Some may respond at this point that ‘Pool won a cup this season and might have won two. I say look at the league table. And if you can bear it, watch endless video of insipid or worse from the likes of Downing/Henderson/Carroll/Gerrard(!), actually. By some considerable margin this Liverpool footiefare was just not good enough; again; and the fans knew it – painfully. Kenny was summoned and nothing became his reign like the leaving of it.
To be fair, it seems at this moment that the transition into Brendanland has been similarly corduroy rather than bondage pant. Being helpfully svelte over a deal for Rodgers is not the same as finishing 4th in the Premiership but perhaps – just perhaps – the relative elegance of recent activity at Anfield is suggestive of someone at the top regaining essential control; a sense I fully expect to be strengthened as the new gaffer gathers in his players and staff over coming weeks and months. Because he is good, this guy; articulate and sharp and crucially crucially crucially – able to motivate. He will instantly, despite his comparative youth and ‘inexperience’, earn the right to be properly heard (unlike Hodgson) and the assent of those passionate but knowledgeable fans – even if results flicker rather than beam – because they know he knows football, good football, that game of skill and passing and movement and yes, artistry. Liverpool in some pigs-bladder abstract feels play like that is their kind of play; a sort of twinkling choreography being worthy of them and their club and their city; that proper Liverpool. There will be some real expectation that Rodgers may deliver them back to that.
Brendan may be nervous but I doubt it. He will probably sense an immediate flood of scouse warmth suggestive of a likely honeymoon period worthy of the name; by that I mean a real space to engineer something more than a shagfest; something that truly satisfies/completes/enriches even. Footiefolks do talk (or is it just journo’s who talk?) of football marriages; how the reds could do with a legitimate love-match now! Less romantically/more generally Liverpool is longing for a return to Liverpool ways – style, sureness, confidence and naturally – success. Few would argue against that being good for the game at large.
My friends down here in West Wales are gutted but unsurprised; because they have seen up close a very impressive football man. Brendan Rodgers – a man appreciated and now gone.