Thursday, 22 August 2013

Brodgers Watch: Luis Suárez Transfer Special, or, What do you think they're smoking over there at Emirates?

Brodgers Watch is a regular feature where we enjoy the management-speak idiosyncrasies of Brendan Rodgers's press-conferences. In our first edition, we take a bumper look at some of Brodgers's quotes on the Luis Suárez Transfer.

The B-Rod, brooding. (from )

18th July 2013: "There has been lots of speculation about Luis moving to another club but, as I said, he is very much a Liverpool player". [I like this because the second clause in no way confutes the first. The tenses are very strange. There “has been” lots of speculation about a transfer – playing down the possibility of this transfer happening in the future by making the speculation itself seem old and outdated. But, “he is very much a Liverpool player”. Which, of course, everybody knows. No one would be trying to transfer him from Liverpool if he wasn't already a Liverpool player. And him being a Liverpool player doesn't mean that he won't be someone else's player in the future. Is this a clever hedge by the B-Rod has he tries to placate his fans, or an unwitting reveal of his future plans?]

25th July 2013: "The support he has received from the supporters [just say this clause in your head a few times: the support he has received from the supporters. In the abstract, it's a great tautology. What else do supporters do but support?] and the people of the city of Liverpool has been unrivalled," Rodgers added. [It seems quite absurd to suggest that the people of Liverpool who aren't supporters of Liverpool F.C. are in any way involved in supporting Suárez. Why does he bother? Is he just trying to upset those Liverpool-dwelling Everton fans who have no love at all for Suárez? I think it's part of Rodgers's larger rhetorical strategy, where he represents Liverpool F.C. as an important pillar of local community, a shining symbol for solidarity and love in the city, a source of glory and pride for Liverpudlians. In Brodgers's eyes Liverpool is some kind of populist moral champion, rather than an American-owned sports multinational. Whether this is actually true is debatable. N.B. Some fans sent Suárez death threats.]
"In this period of time he's missed a lot of games for the club through various reasons. [Minor pedantry, but the “through” is agrammatical. He means 'for'. Through should be used to describe geography, or, slightly more abstractly, the sort of metaphoric geography of networks, as in 'I met him through Brendan Rodgers.'] The people have stood by him like a son and really looked after him. [This sentence is the worst offender in the 'presser' (Liverpool F.C.'s website refers to press-conferences as “pressers”, which makes me want to weep). Firstly, “people” is a plural noun, and the people (plural) are acting like a “son” (singular). But the reason for this grammatical failing is that Brodgers has failed to use his simile correctly. What he meant to say was, presumably, that the people stood by Suárez like he was their son. And we won't even go into what, exactly, the people of Liverpool have done to look after Suárez. Perhaps they are, as a city, getting together to provide Luis with nursing care, valet service, happy ending massages, maid services, kitchen work and so on.] Whatever happens in the coming weeks that will be in his mind because it's something you can never forget."

4th August 2013: "I was surprised," said the Liverpool manager of Arsenal's second bid for Suárez. "I've got to say I've always associated Arsenal as a club with class and so there was a wee bit of a game there.” [I've got to say, this seems like a low blow. It's not entirely clear to me what exactly lacks class about bidding on a player. Unless it's the specificity of the £40million + £1 bid, thus revealing contact with the agent. But given that earlier in the summer Liverpool bid Henrikh Mkhitaryan's release clause, causing him to fail to show up to Shakhtar's pre-season training, this hardly seems a fair accusation. Notice how the accusation is more subtle than the newspaper headlines made it out to be, however: he was “surprised” because “I've always associated Arsenal as a club with class”, implying, not stating, that Arsenal are lacking class.]
"The owners have been brilliant. If it was another club needing the money or desperate for the money it could have been a different story. But John Henry and Tom [Werner, the chairman] have been first class [After receiving Arsenal's bid, John Henry tweeted “What do you think they're smoking over there at Emirates?” This seems to me to be a reasonable and classy response to a previously private transfer negotiation.] through the whole process, so there are no arguments there and it gives you the confidence they are not in any hurry to sell because they understand we are trying to build here." [I don't really have a lot to say about this last series of clauses other than they have appalling diction, and the “no arguments there”/“we are trying to build here” juxtaposition makes Anfield seem a very geographically confused area.]
“We're focused on Luis being here and getting more in so we are part of the conversation about being at the top of the table." [This I actually like: Brodgers's doubly distances Liverpool from winning the title. They are not “at the top of the table”, they are “part of the conversation about being at the top of the table.” Excellent expectation management, saying that Liverpool will be challengers while admitting that, realistically, they won't be very strong challengers.]

8th August 2013: "There were no promises made and no promises broken," insisted Rodgers. [To suggest there were no promises is very disingenuous: clearly, a contract is a promise, and by signing it Liverpool and Suárez both agreed to keep to it.]
"The club and his representatives had several conversations and he knew exactly where he was at.” [“where he was at” is a common Brodgers idiom that I really dislike, and not just for its agrammaticality. Evidently, Suárez knew where he was located; just as evidently, he did not know very well what his contract situation was. If he didn't think a transfer was likely, his behaviour would just seem self-destructive.]
"My job is to fight and protect the club. The conversations I've had with him he knows I've had, and they will remain private." [A beautiful tautology. One of the reasons it sounds so stupid is that Brodgers has chosen to only use the first person pronoun, essentially eliminating Suárez from the conversation as an active participant. Presumably, if this is calculated, it is to make the manager seem more powerful: “conversation” here is a euphemism for Brodgers telling Suárez exactly what's going to happen, and Suárez listening meekly. Although, to be fair, I'd imagine that a conversation with Brodgers would be a fairly one sided one, with lots of B-Rod monologues.]

9th August 2013: "It's been a difficult period for him but it's my job to protect the group," he said. "Once he's back with the spirit he'll rejoin the group." [I assume Brodgers meant to say 'when Suárez gets his attitude sorted he'll return to being a valuable team member', but it isn't exactly clear. Unfortunately, it sounds like Suárez is going to be baptised or something.]

17th August 2013: "At the minute, the concentration is on the players who are available to play. [I like the use of concentration as an active noun. It is not Liverpool's concentration, or Brodgers's concentration, or even the fans' concentration; it is just the concentration, the abstract entity.] Luis is doing his work and there's nothing to be said there. For us, it's about continuing with the momentum coming through from last season and winning games, which is what we're here for.” [Again, this sentence has dire diction. There are problems with Brodgers's use of the verbal participle “coming through” as a preposition, which throws the clauses off-balance, creating ambiguity over how separate a clause “winning games” is, and therefore over which clause the sub-clause “which is what we're here for” refers to.]
"He's a part of our team and a part of the club. The supporters are a class act here - the classic Liverpool Way is to always support the players and the manager. [It's clever of Brodgers to include the manager in the list of always-supported untouchables: it could make some fans feel guilty when they abuse him if results become poor, like they did to poor Roy Hodgson.] That's what they always do."
Rodgers continued: "I won't be saying anything on Luis Suárez [this seems an odd thing to say midway through a fairly large monologue about Suárez] and it's only purely out of respect for the players that are working hard at the minute.
"All I will say is I am very satisfied with how everything has been resolved and we as a club are now looking to the future and moving on." [This is a nice positive note to end on. We'll see you next time for more Brodgers Watch.]

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