“You train dogs, I like to educate players”.Leicester City Coach, Brendan Rodgers
“Every player I see as my own son”.Leicester City Coach, Brendan Rodgers
“My world has been about creating rather than waiting”.Leicester City Coach, Brendan Rodgers
“You can live without water for many days, but you can’t live for a second without hope”.Leicester City Coach, Brendan Rodgers
It’s not hard to see why Brendan Rodgers became the butt of all jokes amongst football fans during his time at Liverpool.
Those quotes, all taken from Rodgers’ first few weeks as boss at Anfield, made the Northern Irishman out to be the David Brent of British management, a coach more inclined to give you a soundbite than some sound tactical advice.
His three-and-a-half years at Liverpool were successful until they weren’t and that led to a rehabilitation stint in Scotland with Celtic.
With their recent travails, that job at Parkhead looks all the more remarkable now but in a classic Rodgers move, despite three years of unbroken success and records smashed, he somehow left the club in the worst possible way and tainted what could have been a Jock Stein-esque legacy.
Leaving Celtic Park midway through the 2018/19 campaign was another bad PR move from Rodgers but the Bhoys pain turned out to be the Foxes gain.
His two years in the east Midlands have seen a remarkable upturn in results and performances, to the point where Leicester are now, quite comfortably, the third best side in the Premier League.
It’s been a victory for proper coaching and clever investment off the pitch, with every aspect of the club now working in tandem.
A brand new, €150m training ground has been built whilst Leicester’s Thai owners have been exceptionally smart in the transfer market.
The signing of Johnny Evans from Manchester United has proved to be a masterstroke and showed that Rodgers can take an ageing pro and move his game to the next level.
It’s one thing though, to take a Premier League veteran and get him to slot into your system, and another entirely to take a young player and coach him to become world class.
Which is exactly what has happened with Wesley Fofana, Youri Tielemans, Wilfried Ndidi and James Maddison.
All joined the Foxes with talent and promising ability, and all without exception have become genuinely brilliant top-tier footballers.
Fofana has slotted into the Leicester defence with ease and has made a mockery of those who questioned his €40m price tag.
Tielemans has been one of the most underrated midfielders anywhere in Europe over the past 18 months, while Ndidi is challenging N’Golo Kanté for mantle of ‘world’s best defensive mid’.
Then there’s Maddison, a player widely touted whilst playing in the Football League but up to last year, had struggled to make a huge impact at the King Power Stadium.
But under Rodgers’ tutelage, the attacking midfielder has reached new heights and gained an England call-up.
“He’s a top level manager that we’re really fortunate to have here,” Maddison said of Rodgers on talkSPORT back in February.
“The detail and the enthusiasm and the love he has for the game and what he does in training every single day is second to none.
“Every single player in the changing room is becoming a better player under him. That’s a fact. I’ve seen it in my own game, I’ve seen it in other players’ games just because I always say he cares.
“He cares about making you a better player, he’s not just someone who wants to get three points at the weekend for his CV, he actually wants to improve the team and improve the players.”
It’s the sort of effusive praise only reserved for two men in the Premier League – Jürgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola.
Which gives an added dimension to this weekend’s clash between Leicester and Manchester City.
The east Midlands outfit beat Pep’s champions-in-waiting earlier this season and are looking for their first league double over City since 1986/87.
And coming off the back of an international break where most of City’s stars have played three games in a week, who would bet against Rodgers to get one over City and stake his claim for the Manager of the Year award.
There has been plenty of talk that the 48-year-old could be tempted to leave the King Power this summer, with Tottenham potentially looking for a new coach.
But Rodgers should stay right where he is, and take Leicester to heights previously unseen.