Documentaries on football do not have a great history, with the timing of allowing cameras into the dressing room usually coinciding with disaster on the pitch.

Those of a certain vintage may remember City!, which happened to follow a year in the life of Manchester City just as the wheels came off their clown car. Or who could forget An Impossible Job, quickly retitled Do I Not Like That after star Graham Taylor’s typically inept phrasing.

And then there was Club For A Fiver, which vividly detailed Leyton Orient going into total meltdown, along with a constantly cursing manager who made Derek and Clive look restrained. There’s a reason they don’t make them anymore.

Except they do. Made by Fox Soccer Channel, Being: Liverpool may have the appearance of a soulless, shit-eating corporate package designed to attract investors from the Far East, but timing still makes all the difference.

For, as we watch the first two episodes, we already know that Liverpool have made their worst start in the League for over 100 years; until last Saturday rooted to the bottom of the table with a winless two points. Being: Liverpool is an epic vision of hindsight and hubris, as real-time events make a mockery of what we see on screen.

“You can’t get away from the nuts and bolts, which is hard work and honesty”

Naturally, we spend a lot of time with new manager Brendan Rodgers, starting with him doing the mandatory raising the scarf above the head on the pitch for a press call. He’s full of the quasi-inspirational babble beloved of modern managers: “It doesn’t matter if you’re a cleaner or one of the players, it’s all about respect.”

Despite only just arriving, the bull-necked Northern Irishman acts like he’s been at Liverpool for years. Everybody else does too. “It has been very enjoyable,” says Jamie Carragher, who would clearly like to spend more time on television himself. “I’m not just saying that for the cameras.” Being: Liverpool seems to be selling Rodgers to the fans as much as Liverpool to investors.

“It’s not just about winning, it’s how you win on and off the pitch”

But, as we now know, Liverpool are as far away from winning the Barclays Premier League as ever. All around, there are signs of coming trouble. Look, there’s Charlie Adam, a ghost of the player who was signed under Dalglish he looks lost and already halfway out of the door.

There’s Andy Carroll, having picked up a Scouse accent in training. “It’s going to take something incredible for him to leave the football club,” says Rodgers. Well miracles do happen while a replacement carelessly failed to materialize.

“Every player I see as my own son”

The camera also follows one of the players from Liverpool’s “esteemed” Academy, a forlorn Scouser named Jon Flanagan. This was obviously meant to spotlight a future star, and Flanagan did indeed get some first team action. Last season. This season he hasn’t got near the subs bench.

The cameras should have been following young Raheem Sterling, a non-Academy wunderkind who has been one of the few players to make an impact under Rodgers. We briefly see him in training in the USA being given a stern talking to by Rodgers for answering back. “You say ‘steady’ again and you’ll be on the first plane back, okay?” Sterling needs to listen to his own advice, as he’s 17 with three children to different mothers.

There is also a side documentary called At Home With Stevie G, where the captain plays with his family and enjoys a round of golf with Accrington Stanley’s 2nd goalkeeper. “He is exceedingly normal,” says Clive Owen doing the voiceover.

“It’s always good to get a result”

That stupid, pointless colon in the title tells you all you need to know about Being: Liverpool. Giving ‘being’ its own clause suggests that Liverpool are celebrating just existing. “Hooray! We haven’t gone down the toilet!” Maybe it’s the first in a series. Next year it’s Being: MySpace.

Liverpool are in big trouble at the moment: European football, never mind league titles, a far-off dream. Even relegation might not be impossible. Making a documentary like this is exactly what you shouldn’t do, as every fan scrutinizes every nervy bullshit statement and questionable tactical decision made in training for evidence of how they lost 3-0 to West Brom.

Let’s leave it to the high-pitched strangled cry of a fan in the pub watching Liverpool lose the FA Cup last season: “For fuck’s sake, get a grip!”.

Being: Liverpool
Channel Five

13 Responses to “TV Review – Being: Liverpool”

  1. Personally I think the programme is rather cringe making but its hardly on a level with the fly on the walls you describe- its sanitised and heavily edited, unlike the car crash documentaries you mention. And the big wad of cash and exposure in the US, which this is primarily made for, is why they’ve done it.
    As for Liverpool being in ‘big trouble’. Er, have you actually watched Liverpool at any point this season? We’ve won 3 of our last 4 games in all competitions, just put five goals past a team at the weekend (ok, i know it was Norwich!), another 5 past another team the week before in the UEFA cup, beat West brom in the league cup. We had Man city, Arsenal and Man United in our first four games. We need to improve, but come on, its hardly time to panic!

  2. I disagree. When LFC decide to turn themselves into a reality show they cease to be sport and become reality TV. That is well within the remit of Sevenstreets.

  3. The point is that this programme is an entertainment show not sport. As a Liverpool (the city) centric culture blog I would expect seven streets to review it and give their opinion on it.

  4. Seriously when did you write this? Seems pretty out of date.

    Jon Flannagan has not yet played but plenty of young players have had games thus far Warrington born Jack Robinson has as has Andre Wisdom and as have Suso. Rahem Sterling has been called up to the England squad. Liverpool are no longer bottom and have generally played well despite their low league position and there’s some European football on tomorrow!

    As for Charlie Adam there was plenty of Lucas who made Charlie look good last season!

    I’ve only watched one of the programs and it is heavily censored and a bit soppy but its not for me its for the foreign market! The biggest problem with it, is it’s just boring!

    I’m looking forward to the West Brom episode but the one where a 2nd string Liverpool side full of talented young footballers beat west brom first team 0-2 with a fine performance!

    Considering the turmoil at Liverpool in the past few years and the mistakes made by Dagleish in the last transfer window and combining that with a new manager with a new style and an evil fixture list a difficult period was always likely but they appear to be coming out of it.

    But you won’t be watching that will you Klaus? I suspect you’ll be writing a savage denouncement of a new Vegan hot dog stand or something!

  5. JD Moran

    It was 1-2 against West Brom and having made six changes from their previous game, it was hardly their first team.

    Maybe SevenStreets aren’t the only ones who should stick to reviewing their mates’ shite bars and their even worse bands!

  6. Klaus Joynson

    Hi folks. I’m the author of this piece and I just want to make it clear I am a Liverpool supporter. A worried Liverpool supporter. I’ve watched all the games this season, as my girlfriend will bitterly attest. I’ve watched some of these games through my hands (Arsenal, West Brom in the League), but I also think there’s grounds for optimism (particularly against the Manchester clubs, despite the results). I still think there’s no excuse to be showing this hagiography when we’re still clearly finding our feet. Think about any other team with a start like we’ve had showing this, and you’d be laughing your head off.

  7. Bit of a generalisation dont you think? I’m sure if seven streets put a similar article up about any other team it would attract comment. I think the article misses the point of the programme somewhat, and gets a bit over the top when it comes to talking about the team being in trouble. Does that make me an idiot? Apparently so.

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