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A Liverpool Legacy

The praise of Gary Monk ahead of the return of Brendan Rodgers to the Liberty Stadium has brought up ideas of the legacy of success. Will Steven Gerrard be able to enhance his own Anfield bestowal before he departs?

That was it. He'd heard Enrique's spa stories one too many times...
That was it. He'd heard Enrique's spa stories one too many times...
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

As people get older, they begin to consider the nebulous concept of the legacy they will leave. The motivation for this is unquestionably a heightened awareness of insidious mortality but there is also an element in the composition of many characters that makes them convinced of the fact that they have been a special little star whose glorious luminescence has burned fiercely enough for all to remember. It's a matter of ego, essentially.

Everyone has pondered what folk might say about them after they have shuffled off this mortal coil, and most will ensure the passing of their scant possessions and baubles to loved ones, but few will have the solipsistic focus required to obsess over the patrimony they will bequeath to the world. That, dear reader, is self-regard writ large. It's the kind of onanistic impulse one finds in politicians, artists and, of course, football managers.

Last night, as José Mourinho, struggled to maintain a rare calm in the face of thoroughly deserved defeat, you can be sure that missing out on the opportunity to ease past that other bastion of self-importance, Alex Ferguson, and register a third Champions League success, will have stung profoundly. The Portuguese blowhard, like the aforementioned Scot, is an undeniably splendid manager, with a record of success that is astonishing, but even a passing familiarity with his public utterances is enough to understand the esteem in which he holds himself and the importance he places on the creation of a legacy.

Of course, there are levels here. When Brendan Rodgers took over at Liverpool, he was wise and foolish enough to tap into the culture of success forged by Bill Shankly and publicly profess his desire to return the club to its former might. Talk about a rod for your own back. To his eternal credit, the Carnlough native has managed to revitalise the playing staff and flirt with major success in his two and two thirds seasons to date.

Only time will be the arbiter of Rodgers' ultimate bequest at Liverpool Football Club, but his former captain at Swansea, Gary Monk, himself now the grand fromage at the Liberty Stadium, has nothing but praise for the work the current Liverpool boss did in Wales. His total of 47 Premier League points remains the club's best in the top flight but with the Swans currently on 40, Monk is optimistic he can surpass it.

"What Brendan did for our club is fantastic and it's the benchmark for us," Monk insisted, ahead of next Monday night's clash. "For any manager who comes in, but especially for me because I played under Brendan and worked very closely with him, it's an inspiration to try to get there. That's what those targets are there for -- you want to try to beat them. Brendan did a great job for our club and if we can do the same as he did or try to improve on it then great, that's what you have to try to do as a manager.

"I haven't spoken to Brendan about getting past 47 points -- he has got his own things going on at Liverpool with different targets. He has moved on from us obviously and is doing exceptionally well at Liverpool, turning them round and making them a real force."

Liverpool have emerged as the Premier League's form team, having taken 30 points from the 36 available over the last twelve fixtures. This impressive consistency has the Redmen in a position to attain the top four finish that had seemed a pipe dream in the nightmare before Christmas. Indeed, should results go their way, the Anfield club could strike a psychological blow and move into the Champions League spots by the end of the next round of matches.

After a gruelling recent run of fixtures which ended with the draw against Blackburn on Sunday, Brendan Rodgers decided to award his weary troops two days off. José Enrique enjoyed a spa day between his arduous schedule of FIFA tournaments and Instagram updates. Mario Balotelli decided to visit his old AC Milan teammates, in a move that definitely won't have hacks creating stories. No doubt, Jordan Henderson just came in for training anyway. The manager insisted his charges needed to rest but quickly reminded them of the task ahead.

"The players have two days off after everything they've put in over this period," Rodgers said soothingly. "And they deserve that because they have put so much effort into getting us into the position that we're in. But after that, we'll recover and be ready to go again. Swansea is another big game for us and we want to continue performing to the level that has allowed us to pick up the number of points that we have. They deserve a rest, but we'll get ready after those couple of days and look forward to the next game."

One man very much back in the reckoning to reclaim a first team berth is club captain, Steven Gerrard. The already legendary Scouser has an American adventure ahead of him in the season to come but as he wrote his programme notes for the last match, his focus was entirely on the securing of Champions League football for Liverpool Football Club in 2015/2016. Gerrard's recent interviews in the wake of his announcement to depart the club have revealed a man who has his own anxieties about the legacy he will leave at Anfield and it will have nipped a little at his ample pride to see the almost immediate upturn in the side's form following his injury. Admirably, he keeps the focus on the team and the enormity of the task still ahead.

"Winning our last four league games has certainly improved our chances of finishing in the top four," wrote the man with the lowest hairline in football. "At the same time we know our recent good run has guaranteed absolutely nothing. After our up-and-down start to the season, all it's done is get us in contention for a Champions League spot. Plenty of other teams are fighting for the same objective. None of them are going to make it easy for us, so we have to keep picking up points.

"There are still a lot of games to be played and we haven't achieved anything yet," continued the talismanic skipper. "In recent weeks the manager has had to utilise all of the squad and each player who has got on the pitch has taken their chance by performing well. I've said previously that choosing the starting XI should never be an easy task for the boss and when everyone is available that will certainly be the case."

Over the remaining weeks of this campaign, Brendan Rodgers and Steven Gerrard can have a significant impact on the way in which posterity will record their Liverpool careers. The manager is set to push on to a new level of tangible success and the veteran midfielder can write a final glorious chapter in his Anfield memoir. Liverpool fans will hope that both can combine to bring the club a trophy and a top four finish and in the process gild further the glinting sheen of their legacies.

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