On Monday, RAWK sent regular scribe, Rhi, to the pre-USA LFC Press Con @ Anfield. What was said is obviously online for everyone to see, but her report (also available in the Writer's forum), has some interesting snippets, too. It was a fantastic opportunity, made possible by the club, which allowed RAWK and other forums, to be part of the press conference and ask questions. Is this to be a regular thing? Watch this space.
I've set foot inside Anfield hundreds of times. Every single time I've clicked through a turnstyle. Every time until Monday.
On Monday I was given the opportunity to attend a Liverpool FC press conference, courtesy of RAWK. They were invited, along with various other big players in the Liverpool FC fan community, to "cover" the press conference.
Allowing certain members of the LFC fanbase to attend things like this is a step that should be welcomed – cautiously. There's not a Liverpool fan in their right mind who wouldn’t want to see more first-hand information getting straight to the fans, as opposed to via the national press. The national press who are there to sell newspapers and couldn't care less about the mass hysteria their spin can cause. More fan presence will – hopefully – give a more balanced view of what was said in the press conferences (especially the ones that aren’t screened live). This is a positive step by Jen Chang and the Liverpool FC communications team.
Now I know most of you will have watched the press conference live, or read the quotes that surfaced afterwards, so instead of rehashing too much of that, I'll focus on my opinions on Rodgers and the Liverpool set-up.
Rodgers speaks very impressively. I know it's been said, and I know this is not a particularly original nor insightful opinion, however it really is the case. He speaks well. Calm, considered, intelligent, and always very much in the Liverpool mould. By that I mean that he takes care to put the focus on values such as togetherness, simplicity, hard work, and fighting for the club. At this stage I don't know whether these values are inherent in Rodgers, or whether he's just been very well trained / briefed in what to say, but there's no doubting that he could hardly talk a better game.
Except perhaps those Andy Carroll quotes, which were at best ill-advised.
But you hear / read / see him say things like this, and you can't help but think that he understands what is expected of a Liverpool manager. What is expected of Liverpool as a football club.
"As a manager you have to have a feel of the history of the club, but it's also about the present and the future."
"This is not just an English club – it's an international one."
"I have found in my experience that the best players are the best people. You find that those guys at the top end are the ones whose challenge is to work hard and improve."
"We'll take the Europa League very seriously. I believe that if you're in it, you want to try and win it. That's my feeling on it."
It was brilliant to see Lucas back in the fold, though he was keen to stress that while he is doing some training with the squad, he's not training with them every day. It was equally lovely to hear Rodgers say that he remembers watching Lucas captain Brazil at youth level and being impressed with him. But these couple of sentences by Lucas pretty much sum up his contribution to the press conference...
"I’ll be back at the same level as I was, because I am working really hard to recover, and the players I have beside me will help me. I just have to be patient again. But my whole time at Liverpool has been like that, so I’m looking forward to meeting the players coming back from the Euros and looking forward to the start of the season."
Poor Jay Spearing seemed a little bit nervous when he got the chance to speak, but despite that, spoke well. He spoke of having had to watch players of the calibre of Gerrard, Lucas, Alonso and Mascherano being ahead of him in the team, and him just wanting to work hard so that the manager knows he's available and ready when called upon. Whatever you think of his qualities as a central midfielder, you can never fault his attitude or his professionalism.
The over-riding theme of the press conference though, was that the club is calm, together and working hard to improve in all areas. At this stage, I'm not sure we can ask for much more than that.
All in all, a very interesting day, and a unique experience. We’re grateful to the club for the opportunity to attend a press event and see how these things work. If I behaved myself well enough, RAWK may even get the chance to attend a few more press conferences over the course of the season.