by Jack Heaney
Generally, old heads rule the world. While young brains flap around the moat incessantly, the King of the castle – King because of a wit and sagaciousness only time can provide – neglects the dirty rascals until they too are of said sagacious standard. Flower children may have rocked the brightly coloured boat in the sixties and seventies but soon (most, anyway) aged and ended their freedom. Ties were fastened. Suits pulled on. Truth is, every generation wishes to turn the wheel in a different way but the irony remains; when they are of age and possess the power to turn it sufficiently, they have changed into what they wanted to change.
Perhaps they got smart. Perhaps they got greedy. But older blokes and ladies are made of a sage that their offspring simply do not possess until they reach that age. I guess conservatism is something we all have to look forward to.
At least that is true outside of football and, more pertinently, outside of Liverpool football club. Because the King of the castle in Liverpool’s case looked old but not in an inspiring way. He represents the old Liverpool; the one which conquered all however, most importantly, we must remember that Liverpool do not conquer anymore. They are a tamer bull and one which relied on their old icon too heavily. He was not the future but more the past and the past always lies heavy on the present.
Kenny performed expertly in what should have been a one night stand, much like Roberto Di Matteo in the season just gone. But Kenny stayed and it was realised all too late that building a new team is a vastly different objective to taking an underperforming one to the end of a singular season. The King played his game with pace; bang, bang, bang and another bang sounded out as big prices were paid for overrated British talent – yet little buck for the bucks spent was received. He was nothing other than bellicose towards the media and irritable which, in turn, irritated FSG. But this is not a particularly morose argument; rather, an optimistic one. Kenny was relieved of his duties and little opposition was raised – as such, he can take his place back on the throne. And so now, the new season in a month or so is ready to unfold. Brendan Rodgers was recruited after an impressive season at Swansea and Liverpool soap up the slate and build again.
Demonstrably, patient pragmatism is absolutely pivotal to Liverpool’s chances in the upcoming term. Seasonal finish in numbers must play second fiddle to the bigger picture Rodgers wishes to paint.
In hindsight it seems peculiar that Liverpool were conceived to be possible Champions League contenders last year. The football may have seduced the eye but the results most certainly did not. Profligate, inconsistent, unconfident and – aside from the cup runs – a relatively bland season was to be endured rather than enjoyed. But the biggest result Liverpool could have hoped for may have already happened: the King is gone and the club can now slowly move forward. Slow pace must be tolerated by Liverpool and, if Rodgers is worth his salt – and we suspect he is – dividends will be reaped.
Liverpool are now finally on even ground; FSG have gone on their own, bravely, and are sagely planning for the future. Joe Cole and Alberto Aquilani are to return and Andy Carroll may yet go out on loan. Brendan Rodgers is crafting his Liverpool boldly.
It is true that Brendan Rodgers is an appointment that, like most, could prosper or puncture th bottom of the barrel rather than just scrape it. But at least Liverpool are giving a chance to a young, auspicious manager. His football ‘philosophy’ was sumptuous at Swansea; they played a brand of exciting football, some of the best in the league. And, perhaps because Rodgers work was an extension (taking no credit away from him) of Martinez’ work, it will take a longer time to implement into Liverpool than at Swansea. But either way, the torrid season they had last year is gone – time to slowly build your name up again with emphasis on the word ‘slow’. There has been such a flurry and fury over Liverpool over the last few years with economic problems and changing managerial staff that little time – and by time I mean true, purposeful time – has been set aside for the club to properly focus on its lowered status and how that truth can be rectified.
With Rodgers it would be a shame for Liverpool to discard method for maniacal expectation; it would be to everyone’s benefit if, come May, general improvement and promise is not overlooked in favour of one specific positional aim. Water may not turn into wine instantly, but look at what happened last year when money was splurged and Liverpool hoped to get back into the top four without proper planning and massive wads of cash thrown around. Isn’t Patient pragmatism, as well as a possible trial and error period, should be deemed tolerable.
Liverpool fans will always be demanding. But seasonal finish should not be of too much importance as long as it is modest – roughly sixth, seventh or eighth – and much more importantly signs of a functioning Rodgers philosophy are existent. Signs of, though perhaps rough around the edges, a smooth centre waiting to unfold.
Little to lose and everything to gain; if patience and pragmatism showers him, this young dirty rascal might just scrub up well.