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Marquee Madness

As Liverpool's fan-base overloads Twitter with relentless whining and moaning about not being the most popular guy in class, the pressure on Brendan Rodgers is growing to sign a 'big name' to appease the baying hordes. How are the playing staff coping with all this?

Brendan insisted on dramatic lighting
Brendan insisted on dramatic lighting
Scott Barbour

INT. Canteen, Melwood Training Facility; Afternoon

Several players are sitting around a large table. New Liverpool signings Aly Cissokho, Simon Mignolet, Kolo Toure, Luis Alberto and Iago Aspas are huddled together chatting. Cissokkho is clearly on the edge of things -- there but somehow unseen. The tone is conspiratorial.

Simon Mignolet: I mean what the hell is a marquee signing anyway? I cost nearly ten million pounds. Ten million! And I just made a double save to win a match. Does anyone on my Twitter remember that? Oh no...they just cry about missing out on bloody Willian. Friggin' fans, eh?

Kolo Toure: I know man. I'm a bloody multiple league champion. I'm box-office, me. I've been saying all the right things, doing the whole I'm so humble and honoured shit, crashed one off the crossbar and dominated defence on my debut and still all they talk about is that Brazilian lad not being here. I mean, count your blessings got Kolo, you lucky bastards, you know? Bloody ingrates.

Iago Aspas: For me, to wear the Liverpool Jersey is an honour. When Mr Rodgers asked me to lean on several objects in my new training kit, I was like a happy child. I have only played one campaign at the top level and I am just grateful to Mr Rodgers for giving me this wonderful opportunity. I will try my best to...

KT & SM: (in unison) Shut up Aspas!

Luis Alberto: Why aren't the fans happy with us? It's like us four aren't enough. Who needs anyone else? I mean, they've done well. (He leans across Aspas, to make his point forcibly) You two are obviously good players and I'm one of my country's brightest prospects. I'm actually kind of a big deal...

KT: (Interrupting Alberto) Sketch! Here comes the boss. Remember, positivity, right?

Brendan Rodgers is crossing the room towards the players, the sun glinting off his dazzling new teeth. He is the picture of newly slim confidence, adjusting his fitted top narcissistically as he approaches the group. En route he has a tactile greeting with everyone he passes. Face holding, shoulder squeezing and hand clasping are part of his ritual. Several players are clearly uncomfortable. On another table, Jordan Henderson, seeing his manager's approach whispers something to Steven Gerrard and hurriedly exits. Rodgers eventually reaches the group. As he greets the others he stands with his back to Cissokho.

KT: Hey boss! Great to see you. I was just telling Aspas here how lucky we are to be wearing the red shirt and how humbled I am to represent Liverpool.

SM: Eh, too, boss. What Aspas doesn't get is that you can save all the penalties in the world but you have to remember you're nothing at this great club until you've won something. It's all about humility.

Brendan Rodgers: Excellent stuff. Outstanding lads. Now listen, I've got to go get some pectoral implants, have you four been to see Doc Peters today?

Mignolet, Toure and Alberto all nod vigorously. Aspas is still stunned by their betrayal and remains silent. Cissokho tries to wave his appointment card so the manager will notice. He doesn't.

KT: Absolutely boss! A healthy body and a healthy mind; am I right? Am I right?!

BR: Excellent, lads. I'll see you at training, so you can all fight for your lives to make the squad for Saturday Okay? Okay.

Rodgers departs slowly after much embracing. Colin Pascoe is waiting in the doorway for the manager, wearing a chauffeur's cap, shirt, tie and club blazer teamed with some training shorts.

SM: You really going to see the doc, Kolo?

KT: Am I heck as like...I'm going to, erm, meet someone...about, erm, something. You?

SM: Hey, Simon Mignolet didn't get where he is today by being mentally weak, y'know? I'm off to open a shopping centre in The Wirral.

LA: Head doctor...pah. Alberto's have always been tough. Is there a place I could get my eyebrows done in that new centre, Simon?

The three leave together, having crumpled their appointment cards and thrown them on the table. Aspas, still stunned, picks up a kit bag and goes towards the pitch to do extra ball work alone. He does not seem to see the other man at the table. Cissokho, finishes his pasta alone, a tear rolling down his cheek.

INT: Player's Lounge, post-match.

Liverpool have just registered their second home win and owner John Henry, with his partner Linda Pizzuti, is in attendance. The gathering has clearly been arranged so he can mingle with the players and staff. There is a notably forced air of cordiality and bonhomie in the room. Henry and Pizzuti approach a group including Phil Coutinho, Lucas Leiva and Steven Gerrard.

John Henry: (Greeting Gerrard first) There he is! Ol' Stevie G! How are ya big guy? You look good out there fella! Thanks to that goal we're three-and-oh for the series so far. Really great soccerball, today!

Steven Gerrard: Eehhhhhhhhhmmm...thanks very much Mr Henry. I've just hit it and it's gone in. Obviously I'm made up, like. Soz abar the sendin' off at the end -- Rooney was windin' me up all game, so I just twatted 'im.

Henry looks at Pizzuti quizzically, she is equally lost. Both look to Lucas, who sighs. This is obviously not his first time translating for the Americans.

Lucas Leiva: (With a wincing smile) He says, 'Thanks.'

JH: Well, sure! You're the man Stevie G! You're the man! (He turns his attention hurriedly to Coutinho) How 'bout you little guy? I swear you're just the most adorable little fella I've ever seen playing pro sports.

Lucas steps in front of a clearly irritated Coutinho, his eyes filled with the rage of a protective parent.

LL: I hardly think that's an appropriate comment to...

He is interrupted by Pizzuti who draws Henry's attention to the arrival of Rodgers. The manager is buoyed by victory and carries himself proudly, his shirt unbuttoned to reveal a newly defined and tanned chest. He fiddles casually with his diamond cuff-links, as he approaches.

JH: B-Rodg!! My man!

BR: (Adopting a James Bond-style affectations) Hello Mr H. I trust your happy? By the way, did you manage to get that portrait artist's number for me?

JH: All over it, B Rodg! I'm flying you over to my place for a couple of nights. We'll have some guy-time while you sit for my friend Banksy. (He turns to Pizzuti) You don't mind, do you dear?

LP: Not at all John, you guys have a ball. I'm going to stay in the UK with the girls for a couple of days anyway. I met this lovely car salesman guy who promised me a great deal on a Porsche. Francois, I think he was called. Anyway, I arranged to meet him tomorrow for lunch.

In the background there is a smashing of glass and a door slams. Mignolet and Cissokho are standing with José Enrique.

SM: What's up with Kolo?

José Enrique: Not sure. Just said he'd made a terrible mistake and had to leave. Weird. I'll tell you man, it's such a relief to have no competition for my place. I've been pretty awful recently. Wanna play some FIFA?

SM: Yeah, go on then.

They leave. Cissokho weeps alone. Outside Aspas runs shuttles and Pascoe, still in partial chauffeur's uniform takes a Warrior Sports bag full of shorts out of the boot of Rodgers' limousine.

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