Despite talk that seemed to set the stage for his departure, Pepe Reina now insists he's happy at Liverpool and likes everything about Brendan Rodgers, but it's hard to escape the feeling of a public relations exercise.
First there were the rumours linking Pepe Reina with a move away from Liverpool. His father talked of a return to Barcelona being ideal while the 'keeper openly cast doubts as to whether Liverpool could still aspire to compete with the top clubs in England and Europe. On the back of another season with Reina at something less than his top form it seemed only natural that all involved might begin to wonder if a change would be best for everybody.
Almost inevitably such speculation was followed by efforts to reassure fans that Reina indeed saw a future for him at the club—and just as importantly that the club saw a future with him. Whether earlier doubts that seemed to set the stage for a parting of ways or more recent efforts to convince that Reina's future remains in Liverpool reflect the true reality will likely remain a question until the summer ends, but for the time being both player and club are unified in their message: Reina's in it for the long haul.
"I have a great relationship with him," said the goalkeeper when asked about how he has adjusted to life under Brendan Rodgers. "We have a lot of ideas in common and the way we see football is quite similar. Our understanding about tactics and feeling for football is very similar. I'm very happy with our manager.
"It's about learning and he's certainly making sure we learn every day in training about ways to win. That's important because at the end of the day, what you want to do is win. If you play good football, you'll definitely be closer to winning more games. That's where we are and my relationship with the manager is very good."
So. Reina is very happy with Brendan Rodgers, their relationship is very good, and the players are continuing to learn how to play winning football that's also good football. All that's missing if you're marking off your bingo card at home is for the goalkeeper to opine that Rodgers' methods and outlook are just like a Spanish manager's.
"If the players follow the philosophy," he added, "we'll definitely become a great side—a difficult and strong side to beat and a competitive one."
Assuming Reina's definition of a great side is one that can compete with the best in England and Europe, he certainly sounds like a player who despite any earlier doubts is now fully on board—and fully expecting a future filled with silverware. Which would be a whole lot more comforting if it wasn't for the part where a month ago everything seemed to be setting the stage for a parting of ways.
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