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The Galvanizing Power of Inertia

As the less than frenzied activity of Deadline Day played out in the background, Brendan Rodgers and his staff had a vital match at the Hawthorns to prepare for but there was only one topic of conversation -- where exactly was Ian Ayre?

Neither man could work out who the frail looking Spanish lad on the bench was...
Neither man could work out who the frail looking Spanish lad on the bench was...
Julian Finney


Brendan Rodgers reclines on an expensive chair and cradles a phone between his ear and shoulder as he vigorously rubs the leather of his Italian loafers with a monogrammed 'BR' handkerchief. He pauses every so often to fussily adjust the fitted shirt he is sporting and smiles on occasion at the pleasing fall of the garment on his newly trim torso. The manager seems a touch exasperated but maintains a polite if somewhat condescending tone throughout the following exchange.

Rodgers: Slow down, Ian. Where exactly are you?

Ian Ayre: I've stopped at an old garage to get some petrol for the Harley and buy souvenirs but they don't speak any English. I wanted to get one of those really boss Cossack hats, but I don't know how to ask for one. I'm devoed, to be honest.

Rodgers: Well, to be fair Ian, you're in the Ukraine, chief. They don't speak English. Listen, not to push you mate, but when do you hope to have the Konoplyanka deal finalised? Only, I'm getting it in the neck from the press 'round the clock here and there's only so many times I can roll out the 'heavy shirt' line, y'know?

IA: Don't worry Brendan, it's all under control. I should be in Donetsk in about an hour and...

Rodgers: (Interrupting) Ian mate, you're going to Dnipropetrovsk?!

IA: Oh...

Rodgers: (Stifling a tirade) Look, just get the thing done will you? By the way, where's the club doctor? I'm in bits with my back.

IA: (Upbeat) Oh Zaf's out here with me. Him and the others hired a mini-van and went ahead. We're doing this shit right, Brendan. No more Willians. No more Mkhitaryans. I'm all over this one.

Rodgers: Wait, "the others?" Who else is...? Actually, y'know what? I don't care. Just get it done, yeah?

He hangs up testily and goes to put on the jacket of his designer suit. As he admires himself, Colin Pascoe enters without knocking. He is clearly excited by something and speaks at a rate of knots.

Pascoe: Boss! I've just been working on Kolo's passing across the back-line. I think he's really cracked it! I've done wonders with him. I mean, this may constitute the best coaching achievement of my...good god! What's going on with your lips? For the love of all that's holy, get some balm on them. You'll frighten little Phil again.

Rodgers: (Stung and self-conscious) Just get back to the training pitch and lay out the cones, Colly. Leave the coaching to me. We're still suffering from that shooting 'session' you did with Hendo. And put on some bloody trousers, ya big dope. It's winter.

Pascoe leaves, dejected. Rodgers, sullenly applies lip-balm, throws a cashmere scarf jauntily around his neck, selects a coat from his walk-in wardrobe and leaves to face the press.


Mike Marsh is putting the players through some drills as the manager approaches. The intensity amongst the fringe players increases notably with Rodgers' arrival, with Iago Aspas scything down Daniel Sturridge and Luis Alberto squaring up to Steven Gerrard. Victor Moses watches on, adjusting his socks ponderously. Marsh goes to Rodgers and the two chat conspiratorially.

Pascoe: Gaffer! Brendan! Boss! Look what I'm working on with Aly! He's doing great. Soon he'll be able to cross while actually running. Look. (He turns to a tired looking Cissokho who wears an expression of confused horror) Show him, Aly!

Rodgers looks up from his chat with a pained but patient smile.

Rodgers: Let's see you then, Aly!

Cissokho sets off down the touchline with the ball at his feet, head lolling anxiously from side to side as he goes, his backside seemingly never in tune with his legs. He constantly looks on the verge of falling over and when he reaches the dead ball line he finally succumbs to gravity, scooping the ball pitifully, as he collapses, towards the waiting Suarez, who, in an act of charity, runs to meet the trickling football and blasts it past Brad Jones, who is giving an interview to Ideal Hair magazine.

Rodgers: (In a whisper to Marsh) That is one of the worst things I've ever seen on a pitch. You know things are bad when I'm pining for that mentalist Enrique to hurry back from injury. I mean, seriously. I'm not even mad, that's amazing.

Pascoe: Incredible, eh boss? What do you think?

Rodgers: Oh, that's outstanding, Colly. Fantastic work, Aly! (Aside to Marsh) Wow...


A group of players including Raheem Sterling, Phil Coutinho, Iago Aspas and Victor Moses are huddled together around a lunch table. The conversation is animated, but hushed.

Sterling: I tell you right now, bruv, that new Russian bloke ain't takin' my place in the team. I've worked for that spot, innit? I can't even get my pasta the way I like it today, coz the chef's gone with Ian Ayre. It's a joke, man.

Coutinho: Most people think Coutinho is a shy man, but if this Colon Plankton thinks he's going to take my place in the team, he is a confused Russian.

Sterling: Exactly, man. I've been doing defensive cover for the boss and everything, and I can't stand that rubbish. You think Conor Planky is gonna cover Johnno when he goes off on one of his wanders? I don't think so. That's my spot, man.

Coutinho: Can this Russian place a through-ball quite close to it's intended target like Coutinho? Can he shoot very close to the goal, like I can? I don't think so, my friends.

Moses: Yeah! If that guy thinks he's just gonna wander in here and take my place, he needs to...I mean...what was I saying?

Aspas: I think he's actually a Ukrainian, lads. And should we not just fight for our lives for the shirt, like Mr Rodgers says and let the best man win? Since I was a boy, it was my dream to wear the red shirt and...

Sterling, Moses & Coutinho: (Interrupting) Shut up, Aspas!

Sterling: Here's the boss. Watch out. (Affects a louder tone) As I was saying, lads, it's all about tracking back, denying space and remembering the Four Ps...oh hello boss, didn't see you there.

Rodgers: Hello boys. (He leans in and cups Sterling's face) That's very good. Outstanding. You know, when I came here first, I had my doubts about you Sterling, but you're a good wee boy.

Sterling is clearly uncomfortable but endures it with a pained grin. He sneers as each of the other three receive some tactile encouragement from the boss. Aly Cissokho bursts in, flushed, exhausted, but elated. He has clearly been on the training pitch alone during lunch.

Cissokho: Lads! Boss! I did It! I crossed the ball and ran! Didn't even fall over...really! Lads? Boss?

Nobody looks up. It is as though Cissokho is not there. He looks crestfallen. Kolo Touré walks in behind him. To a man, everyone in the canteen looks up and greets the Ivorian. "Kolo!" Cissokho slopes away.


Brendan Rodgers is back in his chair, an array of balms and emollients arrayed across his desk. As he absent-mindedly applies one of them, the phone rings. It is Ian Ayre.

Rodgers: Ian! Tell me it's all done. I can't wait to drop that cocky git Sterling.

IA: There's a problem boss. The owner's pulled the plug.

Rodgers: (Incensed) Jesus wept, Ayre! You had one job! One! Did you know that while you've been off on your jolly, Seydou Keita actually knocked us back for Valencia? Seydou bloody Keita?! We've had Cafu saying he's coming to watch Flanno. At this rate, I'll be asking him to play. Why are you so monumentally useless at this?

IA: Calm down, Brendan. I've spoken with the chielf executive, Andriy Rusol and he tells me it's on for summer. 1000%.

Rodgers: Well that doesn't help me now, Ian, does it? I mean I'm trying to build something here, to...wait. 1000%? Really? That IS a lot. Most of this lot around here struggle to give me 150%.

IA: And I got you a lovely Cossack hat.

Rodgers: Really? What colour is it? Do you think I could pull one of those off?

The conversation continues in this vein, as Rodgers locks up his office and turns out the lights with zero business done.

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