Your drunk uncle at a wedding who makes jokes that really aren’t OK in 2019. A David Brent type boss who thinks he’s your best pal and can’t do his job to save his life. Nicole Scherzinger grinding away out of her chair on the live X Factor shows. We all know someone embarrassing, who we just look at and die a bit inside for them.
If you’d asked football fans in the not too distant past to add their manager of choice to that list, plenty would have gone for Brendan Rodgers.
The man who underwent an extreme make-over when he decided to upgrade his wife for a younger, shinier model. A man who participated in one of the most cringeworthy documentaries of all time while Liverpool manager. A man who will forever be associated with names in envelopes.
When he was appointed Leicester City manager, plenty of people mocked the club and noted that they should’ve tried to get Rafa Benitez. Even more people claimed the best they would do this season would be to come seventh, or at best, crack the top six.
However, that’s been far from the case, and Rodgers’ Foxes are flying – and that’s far harder to ignore or twist into something that doesn’t really show how good of a manager he is. Yes, Rodgers still has a whole heap of cringe about him at times, and is certainly someone you’d want to be friends with in small doses, but there is no denying he’s a fine football manager.
Not only has he consistently instructed his teams to play good football throughout his managerial career – even more impressive considering he learnt from Jose ‘park the bus if you need to’ Mourinho, but he takes time to work with players who need a bit more help to reach their full potential, doesn’t shy away from a challenge and enjoys bringing young players through the ranks to boot.
At Leicester, Rodgers has a very good squad – and one that will only get better as well. The young players are still coming into their own and they’ve got the right blend of youth and experience to thrive – and they really are. Not only that, but the owner is willing to back his manager with funds, and the fans are all loving life right now.
It’s a huge achievement from Rodgers to have inserted Leicester firmly into the conversation for top four places – and possibly even the title race if Liverpool falter.
His side are currently ahead of Manchester City and Chelsea and show absolutely no signs of letting up. Given the state of Manchester United and Arsenal – and God knows what will become of Spurs under Jose Mourinho – Leicester can really make a claim for a Champions League spot not just this season, but for years going forward while the traditional candidates flounder like a tumbleweed in the wind.
You can clearly see where Rodgers has learnt as well – his Liverpool side were brilliant on the eye, but at the back they were a shambles at times.
This Leicester City side are well drilled, organised and know exactly what they’re doing. His side are also ruthless – as Southampton found out to their cost. Most teams would have stopped at 4-0, but Rodgers wanted to break the record for most goals. He’s a ruthless and fiercely ambitious manager, who wants to constantly improve himself as a coach.
At a time where we’re looking at some managers who would consider themselves elite and questioning if their failure to adapt has seen elements of the game pass them by, Rodgers is constantly evolving as a manager and it’s clear to see where he’s grown as a manager since those early days.
Tactically he’s far better. He’s toned down the cringeworthy quotes to a level that’s acceptable, he knows how to set up a defence now and keep clean sheets when his side simply have to grind it out. His man-management is clearly good – bringing Jamie Vardy back onside after Puel’s missteps there has been key in getting the Foxes firing again. Rodgers is at the right club at the right time in his career, and it’s clearly showing.
Previously, had his name been linked with elite jobs, people would have mocked. That’s not the case anymore, and the way he’s developing, it certainly won’t be the case in a couple of seasons. Tottenham Hotspur are thought to have asked about him as their new manager – but were told it would be impossible at this point, so turned to their second choice – Jose Mourinho. That in itself shows how far Rodgers has come and is going.
If you’d have placed three names of managers into three envelopes at the start of the season when asked who will impress the most, Rodgers probably wouldn’t have been in there – but in that case, you’d have been wrong.