More than 400,000 pages of documents relating to the 1999 Hillsborough Disaster that claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans are set to enter the public domain tomorrow, so what better time for an Liverpool F.C.-commissioned reality show to hit the airwaves? Of Fox Sports’ fluffy “Being Liverpool”, the Guardian’s Andy Hunt warns, “Hard Knocks, the HBO series into an NFL team, this is not.”
This is not really about the inner-workings of a football club, but everything to do with promoting Liverpool in a glossy, Hello! magazine style to a global (particularly American) audience. And so we get a good nose around the extravagant homes of Rodgers and Steven Gerrard, the Liverpool captain being described by the narrator Clive Owen as the winner of “two FA Cup titles” – what about the rest? – introductions to their families and Gerrard discussing the “due diligence” process of securing a first date with his future wife.
Plenty of toe-curling results from Being: Liverpool and, football being football, the documentary makes manager Brendan Rodgers, the chairman, Tom Werner, and principal owner, John W Henry, hostage to fortune at a time when they could all do without it.
Television’s need for the catchy sound-bite puts Rodgers in dangerous David Brent territory on occasion. The episode’s title “The Silver Shovel” is taken from the manager’s description of his upbringing in Carnlough. “Player plus environment equals behaviour” is another line from a manager who, away from the cameras, has consistently spoken in clear, refreshingly realistic terms about the task confronting himself and Liverpool. He needed a few extra million to sign Clint Dempsey to help that cause, not this.