It’s a scientific fact that there are precisely two types of arsehole in the world. There’s your premeditated arsehole, the kind of character that openly embraces just how much of a nob-womble they are (for example, Kanye West). Then there’s your reluctant arsehole, the ones whose every desperate bid for admiration and acceptance nudges them ever closer to unquestioned and inescapable bum-flappery.
Amongst this second category, through some fault of his own, is Brendan Rodgers. Based only on post-match interviews, that surreal documentary and some inaudible touchline squealing, he seems like the kind of man you’d fake a collapsed lung to get away from at a party.
Even in the wobbly world of Premier League football, Rodgers’ reputation has yo-yo’d remarkably across his four seasons in the top flight. Starting out as the ‘bright new hope’ at Swansea, he has since shunted rapidly from: ‘give him more time’ to: ‘he’s ace, I’m glad we gave him more time’ to: ‘he’s rubbish, I hope he gets eaten by lizards’ in just three seasons.
And now, on the back of some ropey spending, a flabby season, some very public player tantrums and a final day belly rub from the mighty Stoke City, even the most reasonable Liverpool fans are morphing into Brendan-Bashers.
A Solid Summer of Transfers
The only problem is that – if you ignore the fact that you’d sooner vigorously grease Jeremy Clarkson’s naked thighs than say a kind word about Rodgers – his summer spending looks on the cusp of excellent.
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Christian Benteke may not be the slab of chateaubriand you’d expect for £32 million, but he’s still a damned tasty kebab and /or jumbo sausage roll (by which I mean, confusingly, he will score goals, maybe even lots). Roberto Firmino, while again at the ‘Crikey!’ end of the value-for-money scale, is a bold and steely forward who could possibly add the kind of running that a toothsome Uruguayan gent used to bring to proceedings. (Insert your own furious: ‘HE’S NOT AS GOOD AS LUIS SUAREZ WHO I LOVE MORE THAN MY KIDS AND SUPERMARKET CIDER’ remark here.)
Add to that an entirely free James Milner (on the back of his most productive goals and assists return for Manchester City) and a reasonably priced Nathaniel Clyne (on the back of a season so impressive everyone began noticing that Glenn Johnson is about as reliable as a suspension bridge made from Kit Kats) and you have a summer recruitment drive that, uncharacteristically, isn’t hilarious. Even bench fodder like Danny Ings is a notable upgrade on persistent bunglers like Fabio Borini and Mario Balotelli.
A Trail of Terrible Transfers
The problem is that Brendan (and, to be fair, his mostly hapless transfer committee) have in just four summers pissed away enough money to make an ‘Avengers’ film reboot starring Jan Molby as Iron Man, Phil Babb as Captain America, Dirk Kuyt as Thor and Roy Evans as a tiny, confused Hulk.
Since Rodgers arrived at Liverpool, north of £290 million has drifted out of the club’s coin purse. Just a few of the highlights include Dejan Lovren for £20 million, Borini for £10 million, Balotelli for £16 million and an Iago Aspas, whatever that might be, for £7 million. It wouldn’t be unfair to speculate that at least a fifth of a billion pounds has been exchanged for, essentially, a bin liner filled with cold jacket potatoes and baby sick.
So you can sort of see why few Liverpool fans are ready to put their faith back in the ‘Rodgers’ Revival’. The fact that said ‘Revival’ has boinged about from 7th to an admittedly incredible 2nd back to a woeful 6th and you get the picture of a ship’s captain who keeps his hat spotlessly clean but doesn’t know what a lighthouse looks like.
Even as I write a defence of Brendan Rodgers, I’m not really sure he deserves defending. Amongst all the forehead-slapping stats you could throw at the Liverpool manager, this one stands out: last season Liverpool scored 49 less Premier League goals than they had the season before. 49 (Forty Nine). Even with the loss of Suarez and Daniel Sturridge’s 14th century hamstrings, that kind of plummeting return only really makes sense if every one of your players had somehow been replaced by sleepy hamsters.
Perhaps Brendan’s buys will improve the team in the way, on paper, it looks like they should. Perhaps netting £49 million for Raheem Sterling and shoving Steven Gerrard through the ‘Robbie Keane Door’ will help his team unite and evolve as a new, baggage-free group.
But then perhaps it’ll all just go a different kind of wrong and by November Brendan will be spending his afternoons sat alone in the cinema, eating mini Weetabix from his pockets and weeping. Worst still, the poor bastard can’t even watch Molby Avengers. None of us can now.