The "news" that Daniel Agger has thrown a tantrum and issued an ultimatum to the club over his continued presence on the bench was today's big collective emotional breakdown for Liverpool fans, which would be a perfectly understandable reaction if said "news" was, you know, real. Out of context quotes — translated, too! — attributed to a player who seemingly values loyalty above most things were bound to generate the kind of scorching hurt that only truly loved players can trigger.
This is why we can't have nice things.
To be fair, there are only approximately six million Danish speakers in the world. Most of them are probably not Liverpool fans. Of the ones who are, few are probably the type to spend much time painstakingly translating the entirety of a Daniel Agger interview to provide a well-rounded and context-rich reading experience for those who like to keep up on the centre back's musings. No, instead we get quotes devoid of all background, as reported by The Telegraph and numerous fringe Twitter aggregators.
"If I don't play, and if the manager doesn't think I am good enough," said Agger, "that could make me leave Liverpool. I'm here to play football, nothing else. So if I don't play football, then I don't want to be here anymore."
Which... sure, yes. The quote in and of itself certainly sounds like he's unhappy at his current state of affairs. But the odds that this was the full story was slim at best coming from a player who repeats ad nauseum his commitment to the club, and — surprise! — the original Danish interview surfaced and was kindly translated and contextualized by @applessquabbles on Twitter.
That Agger was asked directly what it would take for him to leave Liverpool puts a far more pleasant slant on the quotes, especially given that he's re-articulating comments he's made previously about wanting to stay for as long as the manager will have him. This time out he's clearly operating in the same mental space, saying that if the manager no longer sees him as part of his plans, then that's his cue to exit. Not exactly a secretly dropped clue to SHOCK JANUARY TRANSFER or a treacherous move to another English club in the summer.
"I came here to play football, I came here to fulfill my dream, and I’m still living in that dream," Agger said. "I’m not saying it’s approaching its end, but I’ve had many experiences, many good experiences with LFC. I owe them alot for that."
Rather criminally but not surprisingly, Agger's future dreams for the club also went fairly unreported during the furor. The Dane is on the same page as the fans and even the fair-weather Luis Suarez about what he hopes the club can accomplish by the end of the season.
"Here and now, I really want to play Champions League again with Liverpool," Agger continued. "That is one of those things we are fighting for this season. It’s a hard fight, but I think we have the team to do it."
That he's not currently in the side is disappointing for a player of Agger's quality, but as he said as recently as last Friday, all he can do is play his best in training; the rest is up to Brendan Rodgers. Rodgers, for his part, has been equally clear about his centre back dilemmas now that Liverpool's richness in the position is causing selection headaches due to Martin Skrtel's generally good form.
"I’ve always tried to show my fairness with players," Rodgers clarified. "People say ‘you don’t like this player’ or ‘you don’t like that player’ but it’s about performance level. If you are playing well you’ll play. If you’re not you’ll be in and out of the team. I’ve got an international captain [Agger] sitting on the bench but that’s because I like to think I’m fair and if people are playing well they play. Martin has been outstanding."
Agger isn't going anywhere. The manager clearly rates him, and Agger has said he's not going anywhere until this is no longer the case. Did I need twelve paragraphs to point out what is patently obvious to any of us who have spent any time getting to know Agger as best we can as fans? Probably not. But fan paranoia is a truly wondrous phenomenon and sometimes you need to pick apart the obviously glaring holes in a story to feel reassured, even if you already know the truth deep down in your heart. I don't need to be fluent in Danish to know where Daniel Agger's loyalties lie.