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London – The magnitude of Liverpool’s transfer window bungling is exposed in the first episode of a fly-on-the-wall TV series about the club, during which manager Brendan Rodgers insists it would “take something incredible” for Andy Carroll to leave the club – not long before the striker departs to join West Ham.
The six-part documentary, which begins on Channel 5 on September 21, will add to the controversy over the club’s American owners Fenway Sports Group.
It shows Rodgers staunchly defending 23-year-old Carroll, only for the Geordie forward to be shipped out to West Ham on loan. With Liverpool failing to sign Clint Dempsey or any other replacement front man, Rodgers has since admitted that his team will be “stretched to the limit” until January at least.
Rodgers is shown in the documentary saying: “Andy’s a very talented player. We want to keep our best players. It’s going to take something incredible for him to leave the football club.”
No mention is made in the first episode that Carroll subsequently left Liverpool and it is not known whether internal disagreements about the bungled transfer window will be screened in later instalments.
The makers of the six-part series have been given unprecedented access to the club and players, from Lucas Leiva and Luis Suarez playing Monopoly at Leiva’s house to captain Steven Gerrard playing with his daughters and explaining how his wife Alex “knocked me back” when he first asked for a date.
There is also a bizarre “relaxation and meditation” session during the club’s summer American tour. The players, led by Jamie Carragher, openly scoff at what they are doing, which has echoes of the derision heaped on former England manager Glenn Hoddle’s use of ‘faith healer’ Eileen Drewery.
Liverpool were taken over by John W Henry’s Fenway Sports Group almost two years ago and the first television show episode illustrates some contradictions over the way key appointments and dismissals have been handled.
Arguably, the biggest story of Liverpool’s summer was the sacking of club legend Kenny Dalglish as manager. Henry and business partner Tom Werner, Liverpool’s chairman, are shown discussing why the axe had to fall and contradict each other within a few seconds.
Werner says: “We came to the conclusion with Kenny that we needed to move in a different direction.” This clearly suggests the Dalglish era was not working as envisaged.
Henry then claims it was always the plan for Dalgish to be a stop-gap appointment. He says: “When we first talked with Kenny about coming in, he understood and we understood that at some point there was going to be a time when he was going to step aside when we found the right person for the long term. And he said to me in the first conversation we had that he would be ready for that.”
The moment of Dalgish’s sacking is not shown, which raises questions over how much Liverpool, as partners in the venture, have been able to ‘sanitise’ the final cut.
A senior spokesman for Fox, who are screening the series in the United States, told Inside Sport last week that Dalgish’s sacking would feature in the first episode. He also said the hunt for Dalgish’s successor would be in the first show. In the event, the final cut depicts neither the initial pursuit of Wigan’s Roberto Martinez, nor Dalgish actually getting the sack.
Rodgers and Liverpool were always going to be hostages to fortune and it remains to be seen how damaging the show could be to the manager. Viewers are shown inside his house, where a poster-sized photograph of Rodgers himself adorns one wall.
He is also filmed giving a pre-match talk before the first game of this season, away at West Brom. He tells his players: “Today is the start of a long, hard journey for us. I’ve never said it would be easy – concentrate on performance and we’ll win.”
Liverpool lost 3-0 and could quite feasibly remain in the relegation zone, still without a win, by the time the show is aired in Britain. Mail on Sunday