| 12°C Dublin


Jury remains out on Brendan Rodgers after another Premier League near-miss

Kevin Palmer


Close

Brendan Rodgers' Leicester side were fighting for Champions League qualification before a late capitulation saw them finish fifth in the Premier League table. (Peter Powell/NMC Pool/PA)

Brendan Rodgers' Leicester side were fighting for Champions League qualification before a late capitulation saw them finish fifth in the Premier League table. (Peter Powell/NMC Pool/PA)

Brendan Rodgers' Leicester side were fighting for Champions League qualification before a late capitulation saw them finish fifth in the Premier League table. (Peter Powell/NMC Pool/PA)

The jury has been considering their judgement on Brendan Rodgers for more than a decade and once again, the verdict has been delayed.

The former Watford, Reading, Swansea, Liverpool and Celtic manager took charge of his 543rd game of an enduring managerial career as he led Leicester into battle against Manchester United on Sunday, with the prize of Champions League football in his grasp if he could engineer a victory on the final day of the season.

Yet the wind came out of Leicester's sails long ago and few were surprised when United secured a 2-0 win at the King Power Stadium, relegating Leicester from the top four position that appeared to be their own for three-quarters of what became an elongated Premier League campaign.

Qualifying for the Europa League was still a success story for Leicester and yet a side that moved 14-points ahead of United on New Year's Day have seen their early-season promise evaporate in alarming fashion, leaving Rodgers to explain another day of disappointment in a personal Premier League story that is laced with near misses.

Close

Jamie Vardy won the Premier League's Golden Boot award despite Leicester's late collapse(Carl Recine/PA)

Jamie Vardy won the Premier League's Golden Boot award despite Leicester's late collapse(Carl Recine/PA)

Jamie Vardy won the Premier League's Golden Boot award despite Leicester's late collapse(Carl Recine/PA)

Remarkably, since Leicester shot to prominence as top-four contenders with their remarkable 9-0 away win at Southampton in October, the Saints have collected 44 points compared to the Foxes' 42 since then and once more, Rodgers found himself offering up excuses after a fifth place finish was confirmed on Sunday evening.

"We're disappointed, we're hurt because this was the final opportunity to arrive in the Champions League. But I said to the players, you've done fantastic throughout the season," declared Rodgers.

"We need to improve the level of ambition in terms of our work, improve the consistency of the work but we've got a great platform this season to hopefully improve and develop for next season.

"It just wasn't to be for us, but over 38 games, we finished fifth, second highest in the history of the Club in terms of the Premier League, apart from the incredible season."

In the end, Rodgers was the biggest winner of Leicester's early-season form as, amid links with possible moves to take over at Tottenham and Arsenal, the 47-year-old from Carnlough in Northern Ireland sign a lucrative new five-and-a-half-year contract that places him among the Premier League managerial high-earners.

The Halfway Line Newsletter

Get the lowdown on the Irish football scene with our soccer correspondent Daniel McDonnell and expert team of writers with our free weekly newsletter.

This field is required

If Leicester's displays in the final weeks of the season that has just gone continue into next season, the pressure will mount on a manager who has long divided opinion.

Oozing with confidence and convinced he was destined for the big-time from the moment he set his sights on a career in coaching, Rodgers may well have modelled himself on the equally bullish tactician Alan Pardew, who gave him his first big break as a coach at Reading.

Close

Alan Pardew. Nick Potts/PA Wire.

Alan Pardew. Nick Potts/PA Wire.

Alan Pardew. Nick Potts/PA Wire.

“I liked what I saw in Brendan from the start,” former Newcastle and Crystal Palace boss Pardew told the Sunday World.

“I gave him a role with me at Reading and you could see that he was willing to learn, to take everything in. It doesn’t surprise me at all that he has gone on to enjoy success because he had a lot of the ingredients you need to succeed as a manager.”

Promotion to the Premier League with Swansea in 2011 cemented Rodgers' reputation as a rising managerial star and while he admits he didn’t believe Liverpool were serious about appointing him as manager when they made their first approach for his services a year later, he so nearly tasted the ultimate glory at Anfield.

Liverpool’s 2013/14 title challenge was the closest the club came in what turned out to be a 30-year mission to get their hands on a Premier League trophy that only ended last Wednesday, yet a sizeable chunk of the Liverpool faithful never fully believed Rodgers was the man to lead the club to the ultimate success.

He was eventually sacked by the Reds and replaced by Jurgen Klopp in October 2015.

Rodgers needed success on his record and while he ticked that box in a trophy-laden spell at Celtic, most of those triumphs came at a time when Rangers were not part of the Scottish Premiership story and when they returned and showed some signs of a top flight revival, Celtic's leader accepted the chance of a return to the Premier League stage.

Had he guided Leicester into the Champions League at the expense of one of the Premier League's 'big four', Rodgers would have silenced his critics once and for all.

His latest slip at the final hurdle ensures questions over his true standing in the game will continue to linger.


Most Watched





Privacy