Or Rather What Was ‘The Liverpool Way’
Before his sacking by Liverpool F.C. Brendan Rodgers was considered one of the best managers in the English Premier Soccer League. Without the biting antics of Luis Suarez, and his subsequent ten-match ban, Liverpool may well have won the Premier League and Mr. Rodgers may have lifted the trophy with his players. The following season and despite the Club finishing second the season previously, Mr. Rodgers was fired by the Club.
The strange thing was Brendan Rodgers was a Football Manager who fitted the mould of what a Liverpool Football Manager should be – In fact (and despite his Ulsterman background,) he epitomised what an English Football manager should be. As Liverpool Manager he spoke with a quiet passion with regard to the Hillsborough Disaster before the survivors and relatives of the victims. It is not something I could see his predecessors such as Houllier and Benitez doing. They are literally too foreign and too far removed from the traditions of Liverpool Football Club to fully understand the history of the Hillsborough Tragedy and what it means to the City of Liverpool, let alone Liverpool Football Club. The same could be said of his managerial successor but then he like Houllier and Benitez were hired to produce results but unlike Rodgers, they never came close to winning the English Premiership. Rodgers didn’t win either but he came real close to doing so but unlike the aforementioned he was not given years and the millions they wasted, having nothing to show for it but failure. Okay, Benitez won Europe’s Champion’s League but that means little if you can’t lift the English Premier Trophy.
One of the reasons I am writing this piece, I came across a magazine article, I had ripped out of a magazine about Brendan Rodgers and the story of…’The Liverpool Way’.
The article begins with Brendan Rodgers ushering his guest (the author of the article,) towards a flip chart, situated behind a long sofa on which they had been seated. The pad was thick and well used. The edges of the pages were crumpled. The eye (the author’s,) was drawn to the front page – containing four words. The first letter of each word is written in red felt tip pen. The rest in black:
Further up on the same side of the flip chart, there was a drawing of a stick man with a ‘jagged crown on his head’. Rodgers an intense note taker on the touch-line during matches likes to ‘think in ink’. This was his version of the ‘Liverpool Way’.
“I go through this with every player,” he says.
“First, it’s about vision, an understanding where you are as a player and are going. I need to know where you want to go with the Club and with the team. Have a clear vision, a clear philosophy of how you work, and then have an inherent belief in it. From that, I work on what I call the Core. Every player I meet, everyone I speak to, goes through this. Okay?
“I first need them to understand the ‘Commitment’ of what it takes to work every day. I don’t need players motivated, because some days you get up and you’re not motivated. But if you’re a life-saving surgeon, you work on commitment. If you do five operations a day and save people’s lives, you might be motivated for the first four, but the fifth guy needs you like the first one? So you need to commit to your work. No matter how you feel, it’s about being committed.
“What we’ll then do is ‘Organise’ a system to enable you to be your best. No matter how old you are or how young you are, you want to be the best you can be. I will help you with the infrastructure here, to make a plan for you to maximise your potential. From that moment on, I make it clear it’s your ‘Responsibility’.
“What I say to players is this: ‘The crown is on your head, my friend. You are the King of your destiny. Don’t come crying to me. I will put everything in place for you. I will open with my communication. I won’t waste my life telling you something in six months’ time that I can tell you now.
“’So you take the responsibility to be the best you can be, and do all that we ask you to do. Commit to our play. You will have a greater chance of ‘Excellence’. You may not always be at your best, but the responsibility is with you.’”
There is much I take away from Brendan Rodger’s philosophy of doing things ‘The Liverpool Way’. As a performer, whether I work as an actor or not, whatever I do I go the extra mile in committing myself, organizing and taking responsibility for my actions, learning from my mistakes, ever raising the bar of ‘Excellence’.
Since I read this article back in August 2015, history has overtaken events as I mentioned earlier. Brendan was fired the following season after the magazine article was published.
Re-reading the article prior to writing this, I wonder how committed the Liverpool players were to taking responsibility and producing the excellence demanded of doing things ‘The Liverpool Way’.
But if one is picking up tens of thousands a week in wages just to show up, then sadly when young men take this attitude, the axe seldom falls their way but the way of the manager.
Again as a Performer, there is much to Brendan Rodger’s philosophy I have taken on-board in my acting career and working life. I don’t earn tens of thousands each week – far from it! The opposite is true. I have worked in theatre – trod the boards – never paid a pen for my efforts and still had to produce the same excellence expected of me if I was actually paid the £500GBP per week Equity Union rate for working in professional theatre. I tired of the exploitation and came to my senses.
Brendan Rodgers’ philosophy ‘The Liverpool Way’ is an excellent benchmark for ‘Excellence’. His CORE Principles are to be emulated. Pity the players – The Team and the Club failing to recognise the long-term benefits of doing things ‘The Liverpool Way’.