My old man was notoriously reticent and stoical when my brother and I were young. He's an old-fashioned, taciturn kind of chap, my father, and he didn't bestow praise with much, if any, regularity. In fact, it used to irk him tremendously to even hear us acknowledge a piece of skill or a goal in our back-garden kickabouts. Once, after my brother had chipped in the most perfect of crosses, I executed an overhead kick from twenty yards out which flew past our neighbour in goal and into the top corner. Cue an onslaught of mutual sibling admiration. Dad's reaction as he walked past? "Don't be praising each other."
I can only imagine how much wincing the poor man does on a regular basis now, as he reads the daily interviews with Premier League footballers and managers; each more eager than the next to speak about how this one is different class or that one is a top, top player. Brendan Rodgers is famously ready with the ecstatic language of a man a little too impressed by mundanity. Very few performances on his watch have been less than outstanding. Today, however, it is the manager himself who is receiving praise from his striker, Daniel Sturridge, who, true to form, manages a little self-praise also. You need to stop reading now, Dad.
Sturridge, who has amassed eleven goals in just sixteen appearances for Liverpool to-date, is decidedly positive about the direction in which the club is headed under Rodgers' tutelage. In fact, and turn away now if up-beat talk of winning things is an irritant to you, the England striker feels that on its current trajectory, Liverpool Football Club will soon be back amongst the top dogs in English football.
"With the philosophy that the manager has, we should be challenging for honours," Sturridge told the official website. "I think it's going to be great for us in the future and we can move forward. I think we did things last season, both prior to me coming and then with my help, to deliver some better statistics than we have had in previous years in terms of goals and attacking play. It's exciting to be part of that philosophy and the new regime that the manager is forming for us to move forward as a club."
Crikey. It appears that young Daniel has been on a training course in positive corporate-speak. His blue-sky thinking is going to play well with the website's target market as the team looks to improve its position, er, going forward. To be fair to the young man, he has, at least, fully bought into the idea that there is a philosophy. Skeptics, cynics and critics can debate its existence all they like but the secret to managing people is that they have belief in you as a leader. It's that basic. All the best managers have had that aura of authority and the complete trust of their players and Sturridge exudes total faith in Rodgers' methods and ideology of attacking football.
"It's the reason why the manager signed me and Phillipe Coutinho as well as the players he signed at the start of the season," ventured Sturridge. "The aim was to help the team get back to where it belongs. We'll all be doing everything in our power to make sure that Liverpool is a club that is challenging for Premier League titles because the fans have been waiting for that for a long time and hopefully next season, we'll be in the running."
On the back of Steven Gerrard's measured, yet optimistic thoughts on the season to come, Sturridge's words strike a resoundingly positive note and supporters will embrace them enthusiastically, until the first sign of struggle, when they'll be hurled back viciously at the young man with enough attendant bile to poison a small horse. Ain't football fun, kids?