by Paul Kennedy
BACK WITH THE BIG BOYS: Brendan Rodgers is making waves in the Premier League. AFP/VNA Photo
I never quite got Brendan Rodgers when he was the manager of Liverpool Football Club.
He seemed to always talk a good game, without actually delivering.
During a four year spell in charge at Anfield, Rodgers won nothing. Sure, Liverpool came close to winning the Premiership, but close really is the same as losing.
You get nothing for second place. No one remembers second place, and no one actually cares.
When he arrived at Anfield in 2012, he was blessed with inheriting some great players.
Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard were all in their prime. He also had a young Raheem Sterling in the squad and did pull off a master stroke when he signed Phillipe Courtiniho for a bargain-basement price.
With money to spend beyond that of previous jobs he had held, Rodgers kind of made a mess of things.
He bought Fabio Borini, Joe Allen, Ricky Lambert, Mario Balotelli and Danny Ings. Not exactly players who can be considered Liverpool legends.
In fact out of all the money he spent, there’s only Roberto Firmino who is a regular in Liverpool’s current team, and maybe James Milner, who he got on a free.
Rodgers was eventually shown the door and moved north of the border to manage Celtic, winning the Scottish Premier League twice, Scottish Cup twice and the Scottish League Cup three times.
No doubt a success in Scotland, but let’s face facts here, leading a team to glory there is a lot easier than other places.
I think maybe Brendan knew this, and decided to head back down south to take over the reins of Leicester City.
He had a point to prove.
And I get it is early days, but so far this season, Brendan is proving that point, and then some.
They have won four out of their first seven games, lost just the once, and drew on two occasions putting them in third place behind Manchester City and Liverpool.
Now I’m not for one minute suggesting Leicester will repeat their heroics of 2016 when against all odds they won the Premier League, they won’t. It just won’t happen.
But there’s no reason at all Leicester can’t break into the top four, and that, you have to say, is because of the work done by Brendan Rodgers.
Arsenal and Manchester United are a long way from the top four. Chelsea, although they managed to finish third last season, are certainly not a sure thing for a Champions League spot and as for Tottenham, well after they reached the dizzy heights of the final of the Champions League last time around, things have certainly gone downhill.
Liverpool was at the time too big a club for Rodgers, but at Leicester I think he can, and will, do very well.
He will be helped by the underperforming of those around him, but I think a top four finish is not beyond the realms of possibility by any stretch of the imagination.
And the Leicester fans will be delighted.
On Saturday, Rodgers brings his Leicester team back to Anfield, where he managed for four years.
Will they win? I hope not. Will they give Liverpool as tough a test as anyone this season? No doubt.
But win, lose or draw, Brendan Rodgers is taking Leicester in the right direction.
Repeating their amazing achievements of 2016 won’t happen this season, and in fact will probably never happen again in the history of football.
But Brendan can guide his team to there or thereabouts this year, and that means the possibility of cup success and a chance to play with Europe’s elite for many years to come. VNS