“You say steady to me when I say something to you again, you’ll be on the first plane back. You know what you said, I know what you said Sterling. You know what you said.” With those words in a 2012 documentary entitled ‘Being Liverpool,’ Brendan Rodgers was subjected to an awful lot of ridicule because of how he was dealing with Liverpool’s young players.
Some media types even compared him to the Ricky Gervais character David Brent, from the BBC series The Office. No one is making those comparisons now.
Still only 46 years of age, Brendan Rodgers has shown tremendous acumen in first-team managerial roles and his star continues to rise. As a defender at Reading, the northern Irishman was destined for a decent career but a genetic knee problem curtailed his dreams when he was just 20 and he was forced to retire.
What was devastating at the time turned out to be the one thing that set Rodgers onto a path into coaching much quicker than his contemporaries. A thirst for knowledge saw him take in coaching sessions at major clubs across Spain. Jose Mourinho saw something in him and signed him as youth manager at Chelsea, promoting him two years later to reserve manager.
It was at the Blues where Brendan Rodgers honed the style that has become his hallmark. Exciting, fluid attacking play that was quick in the transitional phase and simple in its construction.
Not one to be stuck playing one particular formation either, Rodgers would often mix things up in a game and think nothing of going from a 4-5-1 to a 4-3-3 or 3-5-2. He isn’t averse to playing a basic 4-4-2 if the game calls for it either and that ability to adapt is one of his major strengths.
If you didn’t know in advance, you’d suggest it was the work of a continental coach. Clearly the time abroad was well spent, and it’s often been said that Brendan Rodgers was (and is) the most committed of students, with a huge thirst and capacity for knowledge.
Despite the impression the public may have had of him after the Sterling footage came to light, his man-management skills were often praised. Steven Gerard was one to voice how impressed he was with Rodgers in that regard when the pair worked together at Liverpool.
His time at the Reds had come after spells at Watford, Reading and Swansea and it was with the Swans that he became the first manager to take a Welsh team into the Premier League, beating Reading in the 2011 Play-Off final.
Liverpool soon came calling and, in those pre-Klopp days, it really did seem that Brendan Rodgers would take the Merseysiders to a longed-for Premier League title.
His second season saw 101 goals scored – the most ever by a Liverpool team – and a brand of football that had the locals drooling.
Were it not for a slip by captain, Steven Gerrard, against Chelsea, and the loss of a three-goal lead against Crystal Palace with 11 minutes to play, the Reds would’ve earned their title and, more importantly, would’ve deserved it too.
No trophies the following season was disappointing given the direction that Brendan Rodgers had taken the team in, so it wasn’t really a surprise when, after a couple of months of the following campaign, that he was sacked.
However, he swiftly rebuilt his reputation at Celtic, winning two trebles during his spell and going unbeaten for an entire campaign. Surpassing the British all-time record of unbeaten matches (62) meant his first ever defeat – a loss to Gibraltar’s Lincoln Red Imps – was swiftly forgotten about.
And so to the present day. Afterbeing appointed as Leicester coach in February 2019, Brendan Rodgers has overseen, and been the author of, a huge improvement. When the Foxes won the title it was a fairytale but once again they’re near the top of the table on merit and playing as well as any other team in the division.
It’s only Liverpool’s incredible consistency that has The Reds in front of the chasing pack at the moment but Brendan Rodgers’ experience in the run in could well prove crucial. If Man City are still considered as challengers, why not Leicester?
It’s about time that Rodgers was given the respect that his consistent delivery of high-quality performances and results deserved. The lack of kudos towards him is scandalous, especially given that he is the highest placed British manager in the Premier League at the time of writing.