Liverpool's manager has never been found lacking in the self-expression department. From his first interview, Brendan Rodgers has employed the type of motivational and emboldening language that one might have justifiably expected from an articulate man in a demanding job at an iconic club; but whilst other coaches satisfy themselves with vapid exhortations and stiff rhetoric, the Northern Irishman prefers to land the heavy emotional blows. There has been talk of the heaviness of the Liverpool shirt, the educated nature of the fans and the necessity for all concerned to fight for their lives in order to regain the club's status.
During his first season, as results went awry and the early hope dissipated, Rodgers was vilified by fans for his incessant positivity and counterintuitively upbeat take on the grimness of reality at that time. It was harsh but fair criticism, however, and the manager seemed to learn from his over-effusiveness as he became a more wary and guarded commentator. Simultaneously, and probably coincidentally, results took a turn for the better and since January Liverpool have been producing the kind of form that earns Champions League Football.
It is refreshing then, to hear the measured words from the manager as he assesses the progress of his team to date and their prospects for the future. Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, Rodgers made a point of placing the fine start to the Premier League campaign into perspective and emphasising the amount of work still to be done.
"It's been a great start for us but we can't get carried away," insisted the boss. "We had a difficult start to last season but since January our form has been outstanding. I have to say the players have been magnificent with the work they have put in. We had a really good pre-season when we had the whole squad together working well and that ensured we were well prepared.
"If you work your socks off, then talent comes through and we need to keep working in this way going forward. The players have already demonstrated so far this season that they have that resilience to keep fighting and persevere to get the result. There is a long way to go this season but we're really looking forward to the challenge."
Now, if you've ever played Bullshit Bingo at a staff meeting, you'll know that you'd have almost had a full card after that little bit of Brendanism. There was an outstanding, a magnificent, a work your socks off and a reference to the importance of the fight. In fact, a mention of the group and you'd have claimed the prize, but to be fair, the overall sentiment of Rodgers' words is pretty much spot-on. He strikes the right balance between lauding his charges and reminding them that nothing is achieved yet.
The Echo recently hosted a dinner to celebrate what would have been Bill Shankly's 100th birthday. Rodgers, trimly resplendent in a fashion-forward brown corduroy suit, found himself in the presence of some real legends of the club -- men like Kenny Dalglish, Ian Rush, Roger Hunt and Alan Kennedy. Rodgers is keenly aware of the contribution such men made to the greatness of Liverpool Football Club and it is understandable, perhaps, that he should become more emotional and ebullient in his language as he speaks about the club's history. The stature of such legends and the Shankly associations seemed to reinvigorate his love of the dramatic.
"Events like that are very humbling," said the manager. "These are guys who set the club up to what it is today. Where they took the club and where the club is at now is two different places. But we will fight for our lives every single day to get the club back up there. The history this club has gives us great motivation going forward. We always have to strive to get back to that."
None of us need the manager or staff to be performing daily under pain of death, but we can fully get behind the sentiment Rodgers is endeavouring to convey. He is trying to inculcate that indomitable spirit which characterised previous incarnations of Liverpool Football Club and allowed them, to paraphrase Shankly, to "conquer the bloody world." That, frankly, is an admirable ambition. The club's best start in nineteen seasons is a start. Now, Rodgers and his group need to maintain the results and increase the performance-level. A fearsome challenge, to be sure, but one this admirable Northern Irishman seems increasingly capable of being successful in.