In a recent interview, Brendan Rodgers referred to Luis Suarez as a "gladiator", bringing to mind images of ancient warriors, intimidating arenas, and epic, heroic victories. It's a fitting description for Suarez, who's been a fighter in just about every possible way that you can describe an athlete for most of his career, especially including his time at Liverpool. Of course, sometimes he's been a little too much of a fighter, but that's apparently part of the Luis Suarez Deluxe Package.
Having that type of figure in the squad is important for any contender worth their salt. For Liverpool, that role was once the territory of Steven Gerrard, but age and wear have forced him in to a role more like the wise master who oversees the fighter. Suarez has taken on that mantle in admirable fashion, and has regularly been the sparkplug that makes Liverpool go during matches.
There's another thing that springs to mind when Suarez is referred to as a gladiator, though. Thanks to Ridley Scott's blockbuster hit, images of Russell Crowe asking of his crowd's entertainment levels are immediately conjured. Given the parallels that can be drawn between Crowe's character, Maximus, toppling from incredible power and then earning his revenge and Liverpool's return to glory this season, it's an easy correlation to make. And we certainly have been entertained by Suarez and his determined band of warriors.
The question that logically follows, though, is this: what other movie characters are represented in Liverpool's squad?
It's tempting to go with the obvious path with Gerrard with a Mr. Miyagi-type master trainer, or a gritty veteran nearing retirement a la Roger Murtaugh. When thinking about it, though, the best fit in my mind is actually another Russell Crowe character, albeit a less well-known one: Master and Commander's Captain Jack Aubrey.
Captain Aubrey was, in the movie, a decorated British naval officer during the Napoleonic War given orders to pursue and end a French warship that far outclassed his own ship. Captain Aubrey pursued his target with a dogged, almost fanatical determination, and through a blend of luck, skill, and plain hard work, was able ultimately gain the upper hand over his enemy.
The movie's advertising tagline, and a powerful theme and message throughout the film, was "the courage to do the impossible lies in the hearts of men." If any character represents Steven Gerrard, Captain Jack Aubrey is it, and the movie's message fits Liverpool's season to a T.
What other movie characters do you guys see fitting Liverpool's players?
If you haven't seen Master and Commander: The Far Side Of the World, do yourself a favor and fix that as soon as possible. It's an astoundingly well-crafted film filled with powerful performances, including my favorite performances for both Crowe and Paul Bettany. If you're of a more literary bent, the Aubrey-Maturin series by English novelist Patrick O'Brian served as the inspiration of the film and is well worth the effort of tracking down and reading.