In the lead-up to Saturday's match against Norwich City, the Liverpool Echo had some brutally honest quotes from Brendan Rodgers to pass along regarding the futures of Stewart Downing and Jose Enrique. It's fair to say neither player has experienced much success under the new manager. The former is in the process of converting to left-back, was left out of the squad entirely against Manchester United, and was dismal against West Brom while the latter started the season poorly and hasn't featured since a minor knee injury ruled him out around the time of the last international break.
With their influences fading, we hadn't heard much about either player of late, but today Rodgers went ahead and cleared up where things stand--firmly placing them on the fringes of the Liverpool squad as a number of younger players breeze past them in the pecking order:
"I don't waste my time waiting until January to tell both players what I know now. They know in relation to the demands of what we want and certainly what it is going to take for us to succeed and for them to fit into the dynamics of the group. We will give them everything to help them to be better, but if they don't want to show that self-motivation, if you haven't got that desire and hunger to succeed then it can be very difficult for you.
"It is about hunger and desire and that is why you admire big players who stay at the top for as long as they can because it is not just what they are doing in games. But if you are not quite right in your preparation and you come in looking in for an easy life, pick up your money, it won't be here. We are a club that has to be fighting going forward."
This is the culture at Liverpool now, and I couldn't be more thrilled. Fight for a place day-in, day-out, or jog on. Talent is certainly one thing, and it's nigh-on a necessity, but motivation and commitment to the cause are paramount, too.
Much has been made of the "manager-speak" in which Rodgers engages, and I'll admit that sometimes it can grate, particularly on Being: Liverpool. But he's shown here that "fighting for your life" isn't lip service--it applies to him, his staff, and his players. And if that willingness isn't there, it's unacceptable.
Regardless of your feelings about either player, this is something we can all be proud of as fans along with feeling more secure in knowledge that if someone's in the Liverpool squad, it's because they've earned it.