Brendan Rodgers – Football’s Yeezus

by Charles Pulling

Screen shot 2014-02-12 at 16.54.55A few months ago I wrote an article on Brendan Rodgers for this website. It was a fairly serious article in which I previewed the run of games Liverpool were facing over the christmas period and how the outcome of those games could come to define the club’s season.

The article also pondered the notion of Liverpool ‘over-reaching’ in terms of this season’s league campaign and whether the Northern Irishman would consider ‘throttling back’ his team.

Given the hindsight of time, and in the wake of Liverpool’s 20 minute demolition of  Arsenal at Anfield and win at Craven Cottage, it has become patently clear to this writer got it wrong in terms of underestimating Liverpool’s credentials. They may not still be ‘serious’ contenders but the progress Brendan Rodgers has made with ‘The Reds’ is now tangible rather than based around a theory of progress.

To be frank it’s not a nice feeling to be proven wrong, it’s something anyone who has ever written something and published it in the public-sphere will seek to avoid. But in this case it actually makes me quite happy – and if you not aware I’m not a Liverpool fan.

This is based on the fact that I’m such a huge fan of Brendan Rodgers. Not something you’d hear many saying in public, save for those on the red side of the Mersey and even within that demographic I’d imagine there’s a still a small (albeit dwindling) proportion of those fans who wouldn’t have his poster on their walls.

My affection for Brendan Rodgers baffled me for what seemed like aeons. Until one lazy morning it hit me, like a pick-axe between the eyes. A simple truth:

Brendan Rodgers is football’s Kanye West.

Barring formatting a paragraph-break which lasts half a page it’s going to be hard for me writing this to tell whether you – the reader – have let that sink in so go ahead and take a minute, I’ll wait.

You may hold the new-found assertion that my comparison of Liverpool F.C’s manager Brendan Rodgers and Hip-Hop pioneer and all-round global superstar Kanye West is the most ludicrous comparison you have ever read. And quite frankly, without any qualification of my point you’d be forgiven – so allow yourselves to indulge me.

The series “Being: Liverpool” was as hilarious as it was ill thought-out. Understandably the club was at pains to distance itself from the moment it debuted on British television. But if the club themselves weren’t impressed there were those who found it a veritable gold mine of fresh material to mock the club with.

Photoshoppers had an absolute field-day comparing Rodgers to the Ricky Gervais creation David Brent of “The Office” and in truth some of his quotes both during the show and in subsequent interviews were both mind-bendingly abstract:

You train dogs, I like to educate players

Self-aggrandising:

My biggest mentor is myself because I’ve had to study, so that’s been my biggest influence

And down-right baffling:

I’ve always said that you can live without water for many days, but you can’t live for a second without hope.

Those are only three of an absolute plethora of quotes I could have chosen. And any number of them could have been as easily attributed to Mr. West as they were to Mr. Rodgers.

Kanye-West-performs-on-st-003

Yet while the nature of the words may have similarities, up to this point there has been disparity in the deeds.  West was readily mocked and disregarded at the outset of his career for what many saw as over-confidence. However the acquisition numerous awards and No.1 albums put paid to the majority of mockery.

He was granted leeway due to his success – the man has been one of the most important influences on the genre of hip-hop, so if he wants to spout on about leather shorts or how underappreciated he is, well, let him at it. Therein is the rub – success affords you the right to expansive self-praise and a lack of self-awareness.

Up to this point Brendan Rodgers has experienced what I will dub ‘pre-graduation’ on the ‘Kanye scale’. Seen still as an upstart whose achievements have been over-shadowed by his quotes.

A figure of fun, ripe to be lampooned. But this season has seen the man from Antrim move up to a level - with his players humming to his tune, the supporters having bought in to his ‘vision’ and team performances like the one which shell-shocked Arsenal – the mood towards Rodgers has become more deferential.

Rodgers’ ‘inspirational’ quotes still have the propensity to induce cringe, mockery and the desire to runaway (sorry). But if his team’s performances get even stronger (sorry again) Rodgers’ will find that his success will begin to eclipse even his more unconventional character traits. And much like Kanye West, you feel Brendan Rodgers’ will revel in having all of the lights (so, so sorry) pointing at him.

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