I finally found some time to sit down and watch Being: Liverpool after its debut on Sunday (September 16) and write a review. I had already read a review of the program so I was going in with some of my expectations for the program already having been dashed.
As a fan of soccer and sports documentaries (loved the ESPN 30 for 30 series) I had high expectations for this documentary. Unfortunately it turned out to be little more than a puff piece for Liverpool FC.
I had really hoped that they would do a lot of behind the scenes bits from the end of last season. I wanted to see locker room team talks from at least one of their last 3 matches of the season (2 Premier League losses and an FA Cup Final loss to Chelsea). This, and Liverpool’s 8th place finish, led to the firing of Kenny Dalglish. This is pretty much obvious to any soccer fan following the English Premier League. Instead of giving us some footage of these meetings they only briefly touched on the disappointing season and had owner John Henry come on to say that they had an “understanding” with Dalglish that he would be moving on when a new manager was found.
This whole scene is what is flawed by this so called “documentary.” Instead of going behind the scenes and giving fans what happens when a manager is sacked, they decided to give us more PR codswallop. Never once did they have Kenny Dalglish on film to give his side of the story. This is most likely because he was fired, not asked to leave, not given the chance to step down. Brendan Rodgers was only brought in as manager AFTER the sacking, and, for those that remember and don’t ascribe to this revisionist version, there was plenty of time for speculation about who would take over as manager for LFC.
I suppose they thought they could give their PR spin on the events since they knew they could edit out any interviews done with Dalglish as well as the fact that the main target audience would be U.S. fans and Liverpool supporters specifically. I think it was a pretty massive failure since a true documentary doesn’t just gloss over the bad parts of an episode and will instead offer more than one point of view on the subject.
The behind the scenes fluff that they decided to include was interesting from the aspect of getting a look into what players are like off the pitch. It does put a human face on these players that are so often denigrated by opposing supporters or placed on pedestals by the home crowds.
Awkwardness ensued as Liverpool players were introduced to the Boston Red Sox players. Although the most awkwardness occurred when Bobby Valentine appeared on screen. They made a big mistake in allowing him to appear and open his mouth.
I did enjoy seeing some of the behind the scenes for a medical and especially seeing Borini look away when the doctor stuck the needle in to draw blood. I also liked seeing the South American players together playing a simple game of monopoly (hopefully this was not staged, but I’m still somewhat skeptical) and drinking their yerba mate tea, which is quite delicious!
In conclusion I believe that calling this film a “documentary” is certainly disingenous. Overall the quality of the film is quite good and seeing some of the inner workings of the club are interesting, however this does not make up for the fact that it is fluff. It seems to be done as a PR bid by the Fenway Sports Group to gain some international support and especially support in the U.S. Perhaps they are also trying to gloss over the fact that Liverpool are struggling and will most likely continue to struggle.
I am still hopeful that the first part of the 6 part series was only a setup and that there will be more to come that might include something a bit more controversial. Perhaps they will still cover Dalglish’s sacking and some of the more unsavory bits about what goes on behind the scenes. I won’t be holding my breath, though.
Being: Liverpool is a documentary showing in the U.S. on FOX Soccer Channel Sunday nights at 9pm ET. It is directed by Scott Boggins and narrated by Clive Owen.