Liverpool’s former head of fitness and conditioning Darren Burgess has given a lengthy interview to the Echo about his former role at the club, and some quotes in particular interested us.
Burgess now works for Aussie Rules outfit Port Adelaide, but was invited along to our pre-season match against the city’s football side yesterday.
The Australian worked under Rafa Benitez, Roy Hodgson, Kenny Dalglish and for a short period under Brendan Rodgers, and it was the differing attitudes of players which most surprised him.
Steven Gerrard and Maxi Rodriguez, for example, where leagues apart in terms of their work on the training field to maximise the physical aspect of the game.
“Stevie was obsessive about every detail,” he began…
“He showed his attention to detail on and off the field. His commitment to the club was total.
“If he saw something was happening around the club that was affecting performance he would intervene.
“He always wanted to know how far he had run and his speed.
“Maxi, in contrast, just wanted to play. Maxi was probably my favourite player because of what he could do with a ball but he didn’t want to run much.”
The comments regarding Maxi’s training don’t match up with his constant work-rate down the right wing however – and Brugess’s quotes on Luis Suarez having never used a gym before arriving at Anfield are even stranger.
“There were different types. Luis Suarez had never been to the gym before he joined from Ajax so it was a case of educating him about the benefits,” Burgess continued.
“There were times in pre-season with Luis when you’d have to take him out of training. He wanted to do too much – he lives and breathes football.
“Him, Maxi, (Fabio) Aurelio and (Sebastian) Coates would then go into the indoor area and just have shots on goal for the next hour and a half. I’d then have to go there to stop them from doing that.”
Suarez’s lack of a penchant for gym work hardly affected his physicality on field, of course. The Uruguayan won the majority of his individual battles through clever body positioning and sheer tenacity – and could never be accused of being weak or feeble.
Currently, we have South Americans Coutinho, Lucas and Roberto Firmino on the books. The former has bulked up since his Inter Milan switch, while Lucas has been with us so long, he’s just as British as he is Brazilian! Similarly Roberto Firmino will be just as accustomed due to his years in Germany.
What the comments indicate for us, is that while hard work and dedication supplements and maximises ability – there’s no substitute for talent.