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Kelly, Suarez and Silence

In a wide ranging interview on Wednesday, Brendan Rodgers spoke about how Martin Kelly has been on his radar for years, how Luis Suarez is only human and how a respectful silence before the Reading game is the only choice.

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Michael Regan

"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new."

Albert Einstein

It's become a kind of involuntary reflex amongst Liverpool fans to wince, or perhaps even a have little preemptive fit of pique, whenever Brendan Rodgers sidles eagerly up to a live microphone. These reactions are a little unfair and a touch extreme but they are grounded in a season of hyperbolic sound-bites and unwise augury from our young manager which have undermined much of the good work he's been doing. His remarkable ease with the media has, at times, been his Achilles heel.

There has been, of late, a definite lessening in the amount of cringing and hair-tearing we have found ourselves driven to post-interview. It always stood to reason that the manager would require an opportunity to grow into the job and learn through the making of multiple mistakes. The fickle and impatient nature of the football fan is not conducive to enduring this period of adjustment and education, however. "We want the world and we want it now, now, NOW," as Jim Morrison caterwauls on When The Music's Over. It's an understandable but unrealisable demand.

The manager's latest press sit-down offers evidence of the more restrained Rodgers that we have all pined for, even if there are still one or two things that will offer his detractors ample opportunity to hurl the brickbats. There was an interesting revelation about the impression the highly promising Martin Kelly had already made on the Northern Irishman, even before he moved to Liverpool Football Club.

Kelly, who's been out since September, when he ruptured his right ACL, signed a new contract two months ago - a clear indication of the belief the club have in the young defender. Rodgers had been monitoring the player's development while he was at Swansea and had considered bringing him to the Welsh club.

"I knew Martin when he was growing up and I've seen him develop both as a right-back and at centre-back," Rodgers told the press at Melwood. "I actually tried to take him to Swansea on loan."

Then, displaying a flagrant disdain for the laws of mathematics, and placing the Hyperbole Police on red-alert, Rodgers went on to opine that Kelly is, "a player that gives 150% in each game." He praised the start he had made to the season and admired the hard work the player has done on his rehabilitation thus far.

The manager insisted that the staff were working so that "he comes back physically and mentally a better player" and said that he would be placed on one of the much-vaunted "individual plans" which have worked such wonders for Steven Gerrard and Daniel Agger.

"You can be as good a player as you want but if you're not available and you cant get a run of games consistently, then it's difficult for you. He has shown that he is a talent and has shown that he can play at centre-half and at full-back - hence the reason why we gave him a new contract. But what we've got to do is get him out on the training field. And we have to get him out on the pitch as often as we possibly can. I think that you'll see he can be a quality player."

As if to further reiterate the point about the demanding and unreasonable nature of many supporters, it seems some fans felt within their rights to moan about the comparative ineffectiveness of Luis Suarez against West Ham. Rodgers was quizzed on whether the Uruguayan is at last starting to show signs of fatigue but the manager was suitably dismissive.

"What Luis showed last weekend was that he was human. The level of his consistency this year has been incredible. I thought last weekend West Ham defended very well and we couldn't find the solutions to break them down.

"Luis might not have been at his very best but he certainly gave a seven out of ten performance because of his work-rate and his intensity.From time to time he'll have games like that, but that just shows the level that he's reached. He's been brilliant and he's just got that type of mindset where he wants to play every game."

Earlier in the week, current chairman and ex-owner of Reading, Sir John Madejski (as in, The Madejski Stadium), thought it apt and timely to publicly ponder the idea of a minute's silence before the game, in honour of the recently deceased Margaret Thatcher. This, in the week Reading had already announced that very tribute would be paid to the victims of the Hillsborough disaster to mark the 24th anniversary of that tragedy.

Brendan Rodgers was diplomatic but unequivocal in his attitude. At times like these and on topics like this, he has shown a real grasp of the dignity and leadership required of a manager of Liverpool Football Club.

"We're into a stage of remembrance here for 96 people who died going to a football game and for the families who have suffered for many, many years. It will give the Reading supporters an opportunity to show their respects to the families. We've seen it at so many grounds since the families were justified in their campaign [following the release in September of the Hillsborough Independent Report]."

At times like these, when he is pleasingly on-message and exuding a genuine, natural authority, Brendan Rodgers looks, sounds and is every bit the Liverpool manager. If he can just resist the urge to be the guy that always "gives 150%," he may become the leader the club so badly needs.

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