Yesterday, at the full time whistle, when other managers would have scurried to get his players up the tunnel and away from baying supporters angry at what they had just watched, Brendan Rodgers got his team together in the middle of the pitch for a Huddle.
It helped that our fans were never going to boo, and stayed behind, to a man, to applaud the just defeated Invincibles for their achievements, but he would have done it anyway.
Before I go into the Brendan thing, credit to those amazing supporters.
That’s how an unbeaten run should end; with the fans giving the players a standing ovation for the accomplishments during it.
Funny that Sevco fans didn’t get together and do the same for their 4IAR team, right?
Instead those who didn’t sod off home at 3-1 stayed so they could boo.
Slight differences, yes, but a gulf in class that is harder to bridge than the one between the teams.
Yesterday, at full time, Brendan changed the dynamic of that defeat.
Brendan has been accused in some quarters of doing media management here, in focussing minds on the run itself rather than the result, but if that’s true then my admiration for him grows instead. It takes a man of supreme talents to be able, so swiftly, to conjure up a strategy for keeping his players free of barbs and criticism at a time when a lot of hacks were sharpening their pencils. But that is the measure of this man. He puts the players first.
There were players who were awful yesterday, and whilst there was a subtle level of reproach in his after-match comments, especially as regards the defence, Brendan didn’t overdo it. In the next few weeks we’ll see small shifts in the way the team plays, the better to protect its weakest links, but the real work has already started in earnest, as our German defender prepares to fly back to Glasgow to undergo a medical.
In the meantime, these are the players who have to get us through December and there’s no sense in further shredding their nerves.
Besides, yesterday wasn’t simply a defeat it was a collapse.
It was a knockout, not a decision on points.
Which means that a lot of different pressures came to bear at just the wrong moment. You can ask why some of those players weren’t rested or dropped, but this result would have been waiting for them down the line somewhere regardless.
Brendan knows this team will be better off for that defeat.
That Huddle was about telling his players to hold their heads up high for what they’ve done in the time he’s been here. He is proud of them, and we all should be, every single one of them. But more than just telling them to hold their heads up, Brendan was telling them to keep them up.
Better a one game collapse than a complete collapse in form.
We play Sevco in twelve days time. There are three matches to navigate before we get there. We have yet to win four matches in a row in this campaign; what a run to go on this would be. And we don’t have to win pretty, but I strongly suspect we will.
Far from this team unravelling, Brendan wants it to be the making of them.
We’ll never know what he said to them in that Huddle, but as I pointed out some months ago, one of Brendan’s qualifications is in neurolinguistics, a science which is used by motivational consultants everywhere. Whatever he said will have done those players good.
Not one of them will be feeling down this morning; Brendan will have reminded them of who they are, what they’ve done and what they still have to do. He called it “pushing the reset button” which is way of telling them not to worry about mistakes but learn from them instead.
What a class act this guy is.