London - From the club who brought you the Boot Room, here is something all together less secretive.Being: Liverpool is an American documentary billed as the first of its kind, a behind-the-scenes look at life at a major Barclays Premier League club.
If Brendan Rodgers was not keen on having his first strides at Anfield caught on camera then he did a good job of hiding it.
The television crew follow him everywhere, from his first meeting with the staff at the training ground to the passenger seat of his clubPorsche and the living room of his enormous new house in Formby, where he awkwardly reveals through gritted teeth that the son of his assistant manager, Colin Pascoe, is dating his 16-year-old daughter.
The first episode of this fascinating series is a scene-setter that seems rather dependant on a happy ending down the line. We are pitched into the gloom of Kenny Dalglish’s final days as Liverpool manager, cutting from footage of their FA Cup final defeat by Chelsea to a scene in a Merseyside pub where the verdict is grim.
The narrator talks of a ‘three-year lull of mediocrity for a club synonymous with glory’ and the shot cuts to Tom Werner and John W Henry, the owners, as they attempt to explain from a couch how Dalglish’s departure was part of a strategy that had been in place all along.
Henry says: ‘When we first talked with Kenny he understood and we understood that there was going to be a time when he stepped aside when we found the right person for the long term. He said to me in our first conversation that he would be ready for that.’That right person, they hope, is Rodgers.
This series is dependant on him, seemingly both as the willing and able supplier of soundbites and also as the man who will deliver the contrast to the programme’s introduction.In terms of the soundbites, he has made a fast start. In discussing his family work ethic, he says: ‘I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth, I was born with a silver shovel’.
’During some of the excellent scenes where he discusses his coaching philosophy, he says: ‘You educate players, you train a dog.’ Later he says: ‘Every player I see as a son.’
The American audience will love it, which is largely the point, but it’s also a risk. Given the footage already accrued and, indeed, some of the David Brent-at-his-desk-style interviews with Rodgers, it won’t be difficult to lampoon the manager if he isn’t given the time to implement his brilliant playing systems.The programme is about more than Rodgers.
The first episode introduces characters from the club doctor and Rodgers’ family to the players. In one clip, during the club’s pre-season tour to the US, the now departed Charlie Adam is having a ‘conversation’ with Boston Red Sox outfielder Cody Ross.‘Ever play cricket?’ asks Ross. ‘No,’ says Adam. And almost nothing else.
Wonderfully awkward.Steven Gerrard takes the crew inside his home and shows a bit of his frustration at living with four women but no son, while another scene shows Lucas playing Monopoly with Luis Suarez and discussing the need for the foreign players to stick together.
Fabio Borini, in a fascinating scene during his medical, tells the doctor about his difficulty sleeping during Italy’s Euro 2012 campaign. In all, it covers a lot of bases, as Henry would say.