When Soccer’s Content Mine Loses Sight of Reality

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Being early, Marc Andreessen once ruefully said, is the same as being wrong. Admittedly, Andreesen, the software engineer, angel investor and all-purpose Silicon Valley maven, deployed the maxim in the context of his own somewhat bitter experiences in the world of cloud computing, but it works surprisingly well as an analysis of “Being: Liverpool.”

If the title is unfamiliar, that would be no real surprise. The show, depicting Liverpool’s preparations for the 2012-2013 Premier League season, ran for only one series, amounting to just six episodes. Its subsequent cultural half life has been limited, too; those few elements which have lingered illustrate perfectly why it was not renewed.

There was, for example, the fleeting shot of the hallway in the home of Brendan Rodgers, the club’s newly appointed coach, that was dominated by a moody, monochrome portrait of … himself. Or the footage of Rodgers brandishing three envelopes — containing, he said, the names of three players who would let him down over the course of the season. His audience looked baffled at best and mortified at worst.

It would emerge later, of course, that both incidents were a little more nuanced than first assumed. The envelope trick had been adapted from a method once used — albeit with considerably more success — by Alex Ferguson. The portrait had been a gift from a disability charity with which Rodgers had worked closely during his time at his previous club, Swansea.

Still, the damage was done. The documentary’s critical reception was mixed, but the response from fans — of both Liverpool and others — was not. It was seen as an exercise in outright hubris, a source of either embarrassment or hilarity, six hours of unceasing cringe. Rodgers, arguably, has never been able to shake off the impression that he has at least as much in common with David Brent as he does with Pep Guardiola.

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When Soccer’s Content Mine Loses Sight of Reality

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