Brendan, Jose And Friends: Meet The Gaffers

Mark rebuffed Big Martin's passionate advances - Bryn Lennon

Many of us have winced and grimaced over the course of Brendan Rodgers' maiden season at Liverpool Football Club but, with the return to the Premier League of celebrated eye-gouger Jose Mourinho, we would do well to be thankful for the manager we have. Just look at the alternatives --they're a wretched lot.

Yesterday evening I spent three hours walking behind a lawn mower, listening to new music and movie podcasts, whilst blissfully oblivious to the Machiavellian machinations of the Premier League's finest and all the infuriating attendant nonsense that accompanies each day of the transfer window. For that blessed interlude, I was concerned only with where I might acquire tickets for the latest obscure indie band to have taken my fancy and what, exactly, the need is for another Superman reboot.

The merciful release could not last, however, for I am as attracted to all things football-related as a moth is to light or as Howard Webb is to a pro-Manchester United decision. No sooner had I unplugged from the world of culture, than I was getting that familiar twitch. I might be missing something. So, as I munched a well-deserved post-toil sandwich, I made my daily mistake of flicking on the Sky Sports News channel, whilst I waited for my antique laptop to splutter into a semblance of life.

I know what to expect at this stage -- squawking, overblown nonsense on a loop -- and in a way, I clearly love it, but nothing could have prepared me for the fawning, sycophantic neediness on display last night. In a one hour show, devoted to all sports, forty three minutes were dedicated to the return of Jose Mourinho to Chelsea. It was nauseatingly adulatory and perfectly summed-up the self-reflexive, self-referential universe Sky has created. As they celebrated Mourinho's return, they announced highlights shows, made by Sky, of his previous triumphs in England.

Jose Mourinho and Sky are a match made in marketing heaven. He is the feudal lord, who supplies the tantrums, soundbites, slights and occasional displays of largesse after moments of managerial genius. They are the vassals who slavishly feed his dangerously overblown ego with their endless coverage of his every thought and act. In yesterday's broadcast, they especially enjoyed fetishising his shushing of Liverpool fans. Stewart Downing can attest to the foolishness of that move, if one wants to be welcome on Merseyside.

This time, however, will be far worse than the last. Success and indulgence have transformed the youthful, cocky manager who infamously declared his own "special" nature, into a snarling, sneering behemoth of modern football. It may not be long before even his beloved British media begin to notice the changes that have befallen the Portuguese. Without 'Mr. Alex' to defer to and in the absence of Rafael Benitez to bait, we can only wait and see what gloriously petty mind games Mourinho will amuse himself with.

Mourinho, off course, is not the only show in town and there are nineteen other duller stars blinking in the magnificent luminosity of his self-fuelled sun. Our own Brendan Rodgers, once a loyal lieutenant of the Chelsea overlord, has begun to craft for himself a very definite persona. After impressing all and sundry with his stint as Swansea boss, his initial period at LFC was a litany of missteps, management speak and envelopes.

I have tremendous sympathy for Rodgers. He seems like a decent, earnest man who clearly has the ability to coach and motivate but it would have taken a very wily, experienced campaigner to emerge unscathed from the twin horrors of the summer transfer window debacle and the execrable Being: Liverpool. In many ways, he's been clawing back from that massively damaging double blow ever since. He deserves our indulgence, through this season at least, and an opportunity to live free of comparisons to Napoli manager Rafael Benitez.

Elsewhere, in Managerville, one struggles to find denizens as endearing as Brendan. Noted ex-Everton "winner," David Moyes now resides in the kingdom once ruled by Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford. His probable struggles to adapt to life as the nominal Leader of Mancunia will doubtless be enjoyed by Liverpudlians hoping to taste the bitter tang of schadenfreude. Sartorially-conscious Manchester United fans will hope that the Scot leaves his array of nineteen forties' cardigans in his Goodison Park walk-in wardrobe.

In the absence of The Dark Lord of the Premier League, one fears for the mental health of the many Ferguson acolytes that occupy the top flight's dug-outs. Previously, went the legend, they were suckled at the great man's teat, needing only to pick up the phone in order to acquire a promising youngster on loan or to bask in the Scot's beneficent advice.

Ex-star pupil, 'Big' Sam Allardyce will feel the pinch of loss more than most. He and Ferguson had an easy, old-school relationship which was matey on the surface but thrived on the West Ham gaffer knowing his place in the greater scheme of things. He was always ready to back the older man and once formed one half of the most transparent bullying duo the Premier League has ever witnessed as he and his 'friend' endeavoured to intimidate Rafael Benitez. It was embarrassing stuff which most sentient beings could see for what it was.

Amidst all the upheaval, one man stands apart, as respectfully aloof and studiously intense as the moment he arrived. Arsene Wenger, who has patented the useful managerial tool of on-pitch myopia, is the Premier League's last great survivor. He is prone to bouts of prissy, hysterical defensiveness and espouses a style of football that is belligerently aesthetic. Many have deemed his recent years as trophyless ineffectuality. Liverpool Football Club and Brendan Rodgers would do well to fail as efficiently as Wenger has.

For some reason Mark Hughes' stock remains high in the fickle world of football management. The Welshman is the newly appointed Stoke City manager and, though it rankles to admit it, he will do magnificently well to maintain the club's Premier League status in the fashion established by cap-fancier and naked changing-room brawler, Tony Pulis. 'Sparky's' cantankerous nature is often entertaining and we can look forward to his patented righteous indignation and handshake shunning as the campaign unfolds.

There are several other characters of note, of course. Personal highlights for me will include trying to decipher the rumbling monotone of Tottenham Hotspur's Andre Villas Boas in post-match pressers; maintaining a close eye on the comedy facial furniture sported by Newcastle United's Alan Pardew; never failing to be amused by how much Fulham's Martin Jol reminds me of Baron Von Greenback from the Dangermouse cartoons and shielding my eyes from the horror of forty three year old Mauricio Pochettino donning skinny jeans.

When one contemplates this menagerie of freaks and geeks one must give thanks to one's chosen deity for Brendan Rodgers, whilst secretly hoping he abandons his recently adopted tendency to dress like Mussolini. In the greater scheme of things, Brendan's one of the best, okay?

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