“I promise to dedicate my life to fight for this club and defend the great principles of Liverpool Football Club on and off the field.”
Brendan Rodgers knew how to talk a good game when he arrived at Liverpool in June 2012. There aren’t many tougher acts to follow in the club’s history than Kenny Dalglish – no matter how lamentably his second coming ended, many felt it a disgrace that such an iconic legend had been sacked by American owners in Boston.
Talking a good game was essential; with a CV as wafer-thin as Rodgers’, he needed more than a 180-page dossier to convince the masses he was the right man for the job. Without a long career in professional football, he needed a USP to make him stand out.
Roy Hodgson had been in his seat only two years previously, and his first press conference did little to dispense the suggestion that he saw the Liverpool job as a personal accolade, a stepping stone to the top job he possesses today. Rodgers couldn’t afford to get off on the wrong foot; his appointment was perhaps the riskiest move the club had made since promoting Dalglish to player-manager back in 1985.
Ahead of Brendan Rodgers’ first Premier League game as Liverpool manager in August 2012 the message was clear. Work together, fight for each other, and above all it do it for a player who was making his comeback from a career-defining anterior cruciate ligament injury in his left knee. Early on Rodgers identified Lucas Leiva as a key lieutenant, a foot solider to get onside with his new project at Anfield.
Rogers trusted Lucas implicitly. When the Brazilian picked up a thigh injury early in a 2-2 draw with Manchester City the next weekend, he missed the next three months of the season and was assigned scouting duties.
“It will be a massive moment for women’s football and it’s been a long time coming. I think it’s great.”
Alex Scott knows what this means for women’s football. Parity with the men’s game may, she acknowledges, lie someway ahead, but the announcement that the women’s game will feature in the latest incarnation of EA Sports’ long-running FIFA franchise is another indication of the important steps being taken by a side of the beautiful game that is finally gaining attention, visibility and, most importantly, momentum.
In the past year the England women’s team played at Wembley for the first time – attracting a higher attendance than the men had managed for a friendly against Norway two months earlier – Eni Aluko became the first female footballer to appear as a pundit on Match of the Day and Republic of Ireland international Stephanie Roche was shortlisted alongside Robin van Persie and James Rodriguez for the 2014 FIFA Puskas award, for the best goal of the year.
With every game of the World Cup in Canada being broadcast live on the BBC, and the Women’s Super League going from strength to strength in its fifth season, the presence of the women’s game on the best-selling sports video game franchise in the world represents another watershed moment for the sport.
“We have to look to improve the squad again which every big club will do. For fans and players it’s great to get those marquee players – and there are maybe one or two we need. The owners will support that. If they’re available and affordable within the model then we will look to get them.”
From a season full of hope and optimism in August, to the despair of Wembley last month, Liverpool’s campaign has collapsed into futility. Nothing to play for with two fixtures remaining, and only the end of Steven Gerrard’s career keeping the club relevant in May, talk has predictably drifted towards the summer and the impending transfer window.
Not only has Brendan Rodgers been dropping hints, but Gerrard too has pleaded with the owners FSG to assist the manager. Speaking after the 1-1 draw with Chelsea last weekend he said: “It’s important the lads get some rest after these last couple of games and the owners dig deep and help Brendan and the lads out and try and make some additions.”
Rodgers and FSG have tried in the past three years, only to see Diego Costa, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Willian, Alexis Sanchez and Memphis Depay reject their overtures for the greener grass on the other side.