Brendan Rodgers’ big challenge is to control a powerful dressing room
- Brendan Rodgers joined Celtic with questions unanswered about his credentials
- Anyone searching for a convincing answer regarding his standing in the game was always going to have to wait until he returned to English football
- At 46, it feels like right time and the challenges at Leicester will be significant
- There are powerful characters who have not always been easy to manage
There comes a time in every manager’s career when definitive judgment is made and for Brendan Rodgers that time may be upon him.
Rodgers will be a welcome addition to the Premier League. His style of ambitious, energetic football and breadth of personality left an impression during his time at Swansea and Liverpool.
Nevertheless, he joined Celtic two-and-a-half years ago with questions unanswered about the true scale of his credentials. Did he almost win the title at Liverpool on the back of abilities as a coach, or was he just the guy fortunate enough to work with Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard?
Brendan Rodgers was appointed as the new manager of Leicester on Tuesday evening
The 46-year-old joined Celtic with questions unanswered about true scale of his credentials
A personal view is that Rodgers was responsible for realigning Liverpool’s direction of travel in the wake of difficult times. At the very least, the Northern Irishman left a platform on which Jurgen Klopp has built. From that point of view, his contribution to Liverpool’s resurgence should not be talked down.
But anyone searching for a convincing answer regarding his standing in the game was always going to have to wait until he returned to English football.
Now, at the age of 46, it feels like the right time and the challenges waiting for him at Leicester will be significant.
Leicester, understandably, have raised expectations since winning the Premier League in 2016.
In the dressing room, meanwhile, are powerful characters who have not always been easy to manage. Who won the Premier League for Leicester, manager Claudio Ranieri or his players?
Among the playing staff, there is no doubt. Ranieri was gone within months of that success and then, before long, so was Craig Shakespeare, the man the players wanted as his replacement. As for Claude Puel, he was never going to last once he chose to play a way not suited to the talismanic forward Jamie Vardy and others.
New boss Rodgers will rightly see the presence of Leicester forward Jamie Vardy as a positive
Rodgers will walk into a dressing room in which success has bred a little entitlement. He will need to address and manage that quickly. Player power is moot this week. Maurizio Sarri’s Wembley experience at the hands of his Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, was hard to watch.
Leicester managers work on a much more secure footing than that, but still footage of Vardy swearing at Puel after the home defeat by Manchester United earlier this month was unedifying.
Rodgers will rightly see the presence of the Leicester centre forward as a positive. That is his default mode and the two men share not just similar views on how football should be played but also the same representative, John Morris of Key Sports. Both things will help.
He made a smart move to join Celtic – it would have been a huge surprise had he failed there
At Liverpool, Rodgers did make big decisions. He has never lacked confidence. He was, for example, responsible for winding down the career of club captain Gerrard and for some on Merseyside that continues to colour their view of him.
At Leicester he will work under a softer spotlight but the success or otherwise of his time in the East Midlands will definitively propel his career one way or the other. When a manager is sacked, as Rodgers was at Liverpool in October 2015, the choice of next job is always important. One failure is excusable but a second starts to look indicative.
From that point of view, Rodgers made a smart move to join Celtic. It would have been a huge surprise had he failed in Glasgow.
He always wanted to come back south, though, and was always going to. We know much about Rodgers but we perhaps don’t know quite enough. Answers may soon be forthcoming.
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