A No-Win Situation For Brendan Rodgers
“Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds.”
“Win a no-win situation by rewriting the rules.”
Harvey Spector, Suits
In medieval times, folk had altogether different notions of what constituted a bad person. With predictable misogyny, it was often the ladies who came off the worst, what with that era’s unsettling penchant for drowning ‘witches.’ Now, we’re not talking, wart-nosed, cackling broom-fanciers here. For the gents of the 1600s a witch could be any woman they suspected of infidelity, errant beliefs or, y’know, just having one of those pesky independent minds.
At any rate, the fate of such unfortunates was the most famous of Catch 22 predicaments — should the accused survive and float to the surface, they were instantly put to death for being devil-bothering harridans; but if they sank and drowned, the assembled pitch-fork mob simply shrugged, mumbled, “Oh…innocent? I DID NOT see that coming. Our bad, I guess,” and tottered home, their blood lust sated.
Over at FSG Towers, one cannot help but assume, the assembled nabobs are surely in consultation with Le Grand Fromage, John W Henry, in an attempt to solve the latest drama that has befallen their needy Limey franchise. Brendan Rodgers, their boy, their draft pick, is struggling on a very public stage and in a particularly concerning fashion. Boos and cringeworthy chants at the defeated opposition at the Anfield final whistle are emphatically not things one associates with Liverpool Football Club, and yet, as the oddly chuffed players departed the pitch in victory last night, the audible cat calls must have filtered down to the manager’s ears.
Tragically, for the Antrim man, the comparatively restrained expressions of displeasure that beamed out to the millions cursing their poxy, juddering streams, were simply a gentle whispering echo of the bile-laden invective that the internet is straining under. Those medieval witch hunt fans have nothing on the more exercised element of the #RodgersOut collective.
One can only hazard a guess at the amount of keyboards being handed in at various repair outlets today after being slathered in saliva by the puce-faced, rage-beasts that hammered at them before, during and after the Redmen’s limp progression to the fourth round of the Capital One Cup. Tapping furiously, they held court on Twitter and other fora – “The bloody Capital bloody One bloody Cup, for the love of jeebus, he needs to go,mate, three-at-the-back, character, bloody technicians, bloody spoofer more like, mate…”
There is no sanctimoniousness here. It’s wretched being a Liverpool fan just now and Brendan has been as instrumental in that as he was in the nearly-men, almost brilliant season before last. The performances over the campaign to date have been abject when taken as a whole and the less appealing traits of the manager — the inclination towards repetitious soundbites, the baffling determination to utilise players out of position in a failing system — have left this scribbler as infuriated as the next Red.
However, to suggest that Rodgers is doing anything other than his level best is absurd. To harangue his family online is disgusting. To threaten his personal safety or even his life is the act of the kind of coward I’d relish five minutes with in a darkened room. To criticise his methods and decisions, however, is more than fair. The results and statistics are damning enough on their own but the lack of a clear coherent vision on the park is what has most rational and patient fans rattled. That indefinable feel that one has going into a game has changed to the kind of joyless expectancy of failure that characterised the Hodgepocalypse. Rodgers is ten times the man and manager ol’ Royston is, but the toxic atmosphere is not dissimilar.
As the cloudy specters of Carlo Ancelotti and Jurgen Klopp jostle with the altogether clearer and more insistent image of Gary Monk in the minds of the aforementioned Bostonian brains’ trust, Brendan Rodgers, a decent man possibly promoted too soon, cuts a sad figure. I’ve always liked the cut of my fellow Irishman’s jib. He seemed to get us, get the club, and despite the vitriolic hate-mongers’ assertions, there is much to like. The griping, from the very start, about his being a snake-oil salesman annoyed me and resulted in an attempt to present a more balanced portrayal in three years worth of writing. The balance has shifted, however. It just doesn’t seem to be enough to believe he’s a capable man doing his utmost. One gets the sense that the situation is now irretrievable.
What happens if for some unknown reason, the Reds go on a spree of high-scoring wins for the next few games? Will the swell of negativity abate? I think not. A top 4 finish and a cup would represent nothing more than an irritating delay of the inevitable to the growing legions who just want change and have fixated their ire exclusively on the Carnlough native. Too many have crossed to the dark side and there is literally no decision that is now left unridiculed.
Yesterday, before and after the glorious victory over League Two’s Carlisle United, the manager chose (at least we assume he chose — easy there, conspiracy junkies) to remove himself from the media glare, with crowd pleaser Gary McAllister taking the microphone duties. This created the most ironic of scenarios, as fury-monkeys who had previously whined about the manager’s overly loquacious nature, howled in derision as he chose to say nothing for once. You couldn’t script this stuff. “He’s bottled it mate,” they insisted, “can’t even front up to his press pals, the shithouse.” Self-awareness bypass time. There is no winning here. The worm has turned.
When even LFCTV’s own Mark Lawrenson is insisting in the ECHO that the manager seems to be “making decisions on the hoof,” you know that the climate is intemperate. You may well question the judgement of a man whose shirts can induce epileptic fits and whose hair looks like it was savagely cut and pasted from a provincial 80s DJ, and you would be most correct to do so; but if a fellow who still uses Wayne’s World ‘NOT!’ jokes is smugly telling you you’ve lost the plot, well, you should probably stop and have a look at the increasingly gaunt face in the mirror. Change seems only a matter of time. In the interim, the drastically riven supporter base will squabble about the when, the who and the how. Brendan Rodgers is faced with a Kobayashi Maru test and even James T Kirk had to cheat to survive that particular no-win scenario. Brendan, I fear, is no Kirk.