After a slow start to the 2012-2013 season, Jose Enrique has experienced success from front to back on the left side of Liverpool's lineup, and while the payoff is warranted, the inspiration was apparently none too pleasant.
"When the manager said what he did, of course I was angry. It had never happened to me before and it was not good that he said his comments in the press. It was not nice to read what he said, but I tried to take it in a good way and do my best. I still don't think the manager did it the right way. He should have spoken to me first.
"I thought to myself, 'Okay, now I have something to prove and I must train even harder'. I didn't want to be finished at Liverpool. I wanted to stay here and play under the manager. It is true that it worked. He also said some things about Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson, but all three of us are in the team now. I know I have to improve to keep my place."
Given the relatively strong nature of Brendan Rodgers' comments earlier in the season, I suppose it's not too surprising to belatedly read that Jose Enrique wasn't too fond of the new manager's assessment. Rodgers didn't really pull any punches when it came to evaluating what had been the previous season's start left side, stating that Enrique and Stewart Downing couldn't "come in looking for an easy life" if they were going to be around much longer.
It doesn't take too much pride to bristle at the manager's statement, even if you're not one of the parties in question. To have your ability or skill questioned is one thing, but to have your willingness to actually put in a shift--to care--seems quite another, and for professional athletes actually caring would seem to be one of the minimum requirements for having a job.
I don't know that I ever really questioned if Jose Enrique cared; I had my doubts about Stewart Downing from time to time and maybe still do, but Enrique mostly just looked to fall off a cliff after starting his first Liverpool season like gangbusters. It didn't appear to be for lack of trying, but whatever the reason, it became fairly clear that Enrique was unable to sustain the types of performances that had many of us talking about a call-up for Spain midseason, and that he started this season on similar form was further discouraging.
So to have him come back looking so positive and confident was welcomed, even after Rodgers' harsh words, and that it came at both left-back and in a more advanced position indicated that the player's form and commitment appeared to be back on a more permanent basis. Injury interrupted that return for awhile, but with the club failing to add any depth at the fullback position during the January window, it looks as though Jose Enrique will continue to have a chance to prove Brendan Rodgers' words wrong.
That's neither bad nor good, similar to the verdict on the manger's words. Said in public or private, they were an indictment of players whose quality had been questioned, and the response has been largely positive. Maybe Rodgers was wrong, or maybe Enrique--along with Downing--was guilty, but either way, there looks to be better days ahead for the Spanish left-back, and hopefully he leaves behind any doubts about whether or not he's interested in more than a paycheck.