INT: Manager's office, Melwood. Morning.
Brendan Rodgers, resplendent in a fitted designer shirt and tapered chinos, is opening a package on his desk whilst he talks, on speakerphone, to Tim Sherwood. The Liverpool boss has an indulgent, if condescending tone throughout. Sherwood is spiky, insistent and yet needy.
Sherwood: 'Ave you tried it on yet, Brendan?
Rodgers: No Timmy, I'm just opening it here as we speak. (He tears the paper wrapper to reveal a padded navy gilet. His expression is quizzical and a touch disdainful.) Oh, I see...a sleeveless jacket. That's very, erm, well...I mean, it looks very...warm?
Sherwood: Put it on, Brendan mate. You'll look the dog's in that. Absolute mustard, me ol' China. I know you like your fashion, so I mailed it right over. What do you reckon?
The Northern Irishman steps from behind his desk holding the gilet in front of him at arm's length, clearly repulsed by it. He tries it on briefly and vainly tries to pat it down over his newly trim torso but its padding will not be tamed and he removes it quickly, irritated by the unflattering and crudely functional garment.
Sherwood: What did I tell you, mate? Quality, innit?
Rodgers: Well, it's beautiful, Timmy. Obviously stitched by a real technician. The one button behind the two, like that -- outstanding formation, but...it makes me look like I've got a gut and I've spent all this time losing the weight...(Sherwood interrupts)
Sherwood: See? I knew you'd get it, Brendan and you're right mate, you do have gut...unlike my players. Spineless, my lot. No gut.
Rodgers: You seem anatomically confused there, Tim. Here, hold on a wee minute will you, I've got Colin Pascoe on the other line. Colly? What's up?
Pascoe: It's magic gaffer! I've had a real breakthrough! I've just gotten Glen to cut out two successive crosses!
Rodgers: That's massive, mate! I'll be right down...Tim? I've to head on, mate. Thanks again for the gilet and on that other thing, I'll send over some notes but I really don't think you can stick with that 4-4-2 for every game, mate...
Sherwood: Gutted, mate...
Rodgers goes to his walk-in wardrobe, selects a snugly fitting selection of training gear, pauses, throws it on the floor, puts on an eye-wateringly expensive Barbour pea-coat, and exits slowly. As he does so, he examines the line of his clothing in the mirror -- a wide, slightly frightening smile reveals his pristine teeth and clear pleasure at the reflection.
EXT: Training pitch, Melwood. Morning.
Rodgers sashays down the sideline towards where Pascoe is deep in conversation with Glen Johnson. As he passes the various small-sided games being monitored by Mike Marsh, the players all wave or call out salutations. Rodgers benignly acknowledges all of them. Oddly, there is a loud soundtrack to the session as Bob Marley's music blares from the tannoy. This is a happy camp. His attention is drawn to an intense but jovial exchange between Martin Skrtel and Luis Suarez.
Rodgers: What's going on Luis?
Suarez: Ah bossman, I am so exciting play Liverpool. Since I was child, I dream...
Rodgers: (Interrupting) Yes Luis...you're a wonderfully committed wee man but what are you doing?
Suarez: I want practice celebration for fans with Big Martin.
Skrtel: They seem to be going over well, gaffer. That United one was a hit and the one against Everton, where I'm wearing that bandage and up on Luis' shoulders? The punters loved that.
Rodgers: Do you not think that's a wee bit arrogant and presumptuous, lads?
Skrtel: But it's Suarez, boss. He's going to score. It'd be unprofessional not to be prepared, like...
Suarez: Is true. I am Suarez.
Rodgers: Can't argue with you on that lads. Carry on.
As Rodgers walks on, Suarez and Skrtel earnestly attempt various acrobatic and unadvisable contortions. The manager makes his way to the end of the pitch. Before he reaches Pascoe and Johnson, his attention is grabbed by Simon Mignolet making yet another world-class stop when a simple catch would have ended the danger earlier.
Rodgers: Simon! Come here a wee minute. (Mignolet jogs over)
Mignolet: Hello gaffer! Did you see that one?
Rodgers: Yes Marty. Good boy. Outstanding. You're an incredible technician, but listen...you could save yourself a lot of hassle by coming off your line occasionally.
Mignolet: But gaffer, Doc Peters has told me that I should follow my dream. I want to go to Hollywood after I finish football. I'm not getting there with unfussy corner claiming, am I? Hollywood, baby!
Mignolet's eyes are glazed and he seems oddly detached. Rodgers is concerned but decides to save his grievance for Peters. As he moves towards Pascoe, the Belgian claws another one out of the top corner at full stretch, screaming 'Hollywood, baby!' as he does so.
Rodgers: What's the good word, Colly? Alright, Glen?
Pascoe: We almost had it, boss. Glenn stopped two of Philippe's crosses in a row on three separate occasions, but he's lost it again.
Johnson: I'm gutted boss. it's like I've forgotten...every time I think I've nailed it, I have a quick word with Colly and then it's gone.
Rodgers: Oh for the love of...(calming himself) Colly, I'll take over the coaching for a bit, okay? Okay. Will you give Mike a hand with the cones over there, like a good man?
Pascoe looks shattered as he begins to shuffle away. Rodgers puts a hand on his shoulder to stop him and he turns to face the smiling Antrim man.
Rodgers: (In a kindly, benevolent tone and warming to his task as he goes.) Listen Col, you're the best bloody cone-man in the Premier League. I need you over there, mate. Those are heavy shorts, my friend. It's an onerous responsibility you bear. I know that. I appreciate that. I need you to work your magic over there. Can you do that for me, Colly?
Pascoe: (Revitalised, ebullient) Yes gaffer! I'm your man! (He begins to jog away)
Rodgers: (Calling after him) Good boy! And Colly, no coaching, yeah? Just cones. Good man! (Turning to Johnson) Glen mate. Ignore that guy. Always ignore that guy, okay? Okay.
The two men are interrupted by club captain, Steven Gerrard who is the embodiment of blissed-out contentment. His eyes, however, have that same glazed look that Mignolet's have. He sings along to the reggae music that washes over the training ground.
Gerrard: We're jammin'...alright, gaffer? GlenJo? I've just had another dead boss meeting with Doc Peters there. We were talking about...eehhhhmmm...what were we talking about? Ah, doesn't matter. It was boss. I'm made up with having him around. (Sings) We're jammin'... ( Suddenly focused) Here, Glen have you noticed the way our kit looks like it was designed by a five year old with a box of crayons? Hahahaha! Boss, tha'...
Rodgers: You okay Stevie? I was afraid you'd be down about José saying you weren't in the top three midfielders any more. That stuff used to really get to you.
Gerrard: Nah, it's just José being José, man. I respect him. I respect everybody, me. Doc P says it's the way to go. You're looking very well, boss.
Rodgers: (Flattered) You like the jacket? I was worried it was too 'young' for me, y'know? Maybe a little tight? I've been flirting with the chocolate a lot this week...
Gerrard: No way! You look boss, boss! (Johnson nods vigorously in agreement. He hops up on Gerrard''s shoulders and the two men go to join Suarez and Skrtel who are still devising celebrations.)
Rodgers: Good lads. Carry on. Wonderful intensity...wonderful...
He pauses and eyes an open box of energy bars. His face betrays a real struggle as he tries to resist. Patting his flat stomach, he glances towards Doctor Peters' office. As he does so, the man himself opens a window, beckons and smiles benignly at the manager, a cloud of smoke escaping into the open air. Rodgers goes to the door, glances around and enters as Marley's 'Is This Love?' begins to play.