Robin Scott-Elliot: Let's raise a glass of milk to Steven Gerrard saying 'Accrington Stanley'
View From The Sofa: Being: Liverpool, Channel Five
Monday 01 October 2012
On Saturday morning, I watched the second episode of Being: Liverpool (their colon – you will not find a colon being: so wilfully abused here). On Saturday afternoon, I went to watch a dancing sheep show compered by a New Zealander with a fondness for double entendre. No sheep were harmed in making the show, although an aggressive, well-horned Scottish one named Dougal did attempt to head-butt the Kiwi, thereby extending a national stereotype to a nation's animals. Dougal is a Scottish hill sheep, a breed that is apparently as good as wild – this was a learning experience too. So there you have it, Being: Liverpool: not as entertaining or informative as: dancing sheep.
Not that there weren't occasional highlights. Steven Gerrard saying "Accrington Stanley" was one worth happily raising a glass of milk to. Gerrard has become the anti-Terry. He is of a similar status at his club, and inhabits even more of a goldfish bowl, yet as he grows older he appears to quietly assume the responsibility that comes with his position. He is a player it is impossible not to admire.
Gerrard raised the one interesting point of the programme, suggesting that it has become harder for young players today than it was during the beginnings of his career. Today, said Gerrard, there are no mysteries – supporters are rarely taken by surprise by the emergence of a player. When a Raheem Sterling is ushered into the first team he is already accompanied by a burden of expectation.
This episode followed Liverpool on their pre-season trip to Boston, owner John Henry's home town. A photographer took his picture and Henry wondered: "Who are you working for?" "You," said the photographer. Perhaps the confusion came with Fenway Park having been transformed from a ball park into a football ground for one afternoon. Nobody seemed quite sure what was what – apart from Charlie Adam, who knew who Henry was and told the man who also owns a baseball club that baseball was boring. Adam now plays for Stoke.
Any light touches were accidental. This is a pompous series – it aims high but doesn't come close to Premier Passions. Broadcast 14 years ago, that eye-opening, Peter Reid-inspired swearfest recorded a season at Sunderland and has never been equalled as an inside look at the workings of a football club, certainly not by this.
Being: Liverpool is accompanied by a humourless, over-written script that makes a Ryder Cup opening ceremony seem riotous good fun. Clive Owen reads it with necessary solemnity intoning gravely at all the right moments as any good actor earning his daily bread should.
"Youth and inexperience are no strangers," he says as Brendan Rodgers points out a flaw to his young squad. "The tour may be exhibitions but the travel is real" accompanies the players sitting on an aeroplane wearing large headphones. Jay Spearing is described as "an amenable party", which is not a term anyone who has seen him would dare use for Dougal, at least not within butting range.
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