Brendan Rodgers is back in the Premier League with Leicester City – and it’s fair to say English football has missed him.
When people recall Brendan Rodgers’ time in charge of Liverpool, and to a lesser extent Swansea, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking he was about funny quotes and nothing else.
But he is also a more than able coach, who took Liverpool from nowhere to launch a Premier League title bid. We have found some of the best lines, both from Rodgers and about him, to paint a picture of what Leicester fans can expect.
Leicester fans who wonder how much they can read into Rodgers’ success at Celtic will be pleased to hear the Northern Irishman believes his time in Scotland has improved him as a manager.
“Coming to Scotland means I’m a better manager now than when I left Liverpool,” he said in 2017.
“There are two reasons for that. The first is that my players have made me better and the second is the quality of the other coaches, who have all posed different problems for me.
“All the tactics and the styles are all different and I’m a better manager for having dealt with that and I’ll be better still a year from now.”
Rodgers won all seven domestic trophies available to him at Celtic and also broke a 100-year British record with a 69-game unbeaten run. As far as Celtic’s chief executive is concerned, that wasn’t simply down to Rodgers having the best players.
“He’s an outstanding manager and outstanding coach, and I’m delighted for him,” Lawwell said, also in 2017. “The amount of work he puts in, the coaches put in, the way the players have developed and the way they are performing, it’s been remarkable really.”
When the former Barcelona coach welcomed Rodgers’ Celtic side to Camp Nou in the Champions League, he had plenty of time for Brendan’s attention to detail.
“He was here [in Barcelona], not just watching games from the senior team but Barca B at the Miniestadi and the youth teams,” Enrique said.
“He loves good football, he is a coach that likes to play on the front foot, take the game to the opposition and you can see that already.”
Rodgers has developed a reputation for trusting in young talent. Raheem Sterling at Liverpool might have been the most prominent example, but Jordon Ibe was similarly complimentary.
“Brendan put me in the first team and gave me a debut when I was just 17,” said the winger, who would later explain he joined Bournemouth because their style was similar to that which he enjoyed early in his Anfield career.
“Not many managers in the Premier League would do that. He helped me to come through and he’s done the same for other players here.”
What is clear from those who have worked under and alongside Rodgers is that he is not just a manager, he is a coach. And he is always looking to improve the players at his disposal.
“I demand all players train like they play. I always say to the players here when they sign a contract, you’re signing a training contract. I’ll decide whether you play or not.
“The money is in your bank every month but you’re to work and get better.”
Rodgers’ long-term assistant, who has followed him to Leicester, is certainly in no doubt about the 46-year-old’s qualities.
“Brendan has been a mentor to me. He was a great coach to me as a player – a cut above the rest in the way he spoke to us as youngsters and his tactical advice.
“I’m biased obviously, but he has immense qualities – his temperament is unique and it’s why he can take on the big, big jobs at the top clubs – he’s very calm and very assured and secure.
“He is outstanding tactically and the proof is in the pudding of that season at Liverpool when we changed systems a lot and tactically we were flexible.”
Liverpool might not be alone in exhibiting passing football in the Premier League, but the justification for the club breaking the bank to sign Alisson called to mind a Rodgers line from a few years back.
“We play with 11 men, other teams play with 10 men and a goalkeeper,” he said, implying the need to have someone in goal who was good with his feet.
Let’s not dwell on the fact that his keeper at the time, Simon Mignolet, was one of those deemed not good enough to start under Jürgen Klopp.
Suárez was another acolyte whose game progressed under Rodgers, and he spoke of the impact of the Northern Irishman when he left the club.
“He is a very intelligent man,” the Uruguay striker said.
“If the players at his next club listen to his words, they will become better players for sure.”
Suárez wasn’t alone in believing he developed as a player under Rodgers, and if anyone knows about strikers reaching the top of their game, it’s Pelé.
“Luis Suarez was a really good player when he went to Liverpool, but I believe Brendan gave him great coaching, guidance and advice and made him a better player and a better person,” the Brazilian great said.
We wonder what he means with the second part of that comment.
Even when not speaking about himself, Rodgers has been able to paint a picture of his style with his choice of words.
“I started coaching for one reason and that was to make a difference for people, not just as footballers but as human beings.”
Based on Pelé’s response, it sounds like it worked.
Rodgers’ title run in the 2013-14 season was largely down to his attacking 4-3-3 set-up, and it wasn’t unique to that season.
Fabio Borini played for the manager at both Swansea and Liverpool, and pointed to the formation as one of the things that attracted him to being reunited with the coach.
“I used to play 4-3-3 with the manager and he is very good to play football for. It is great to play football for him because you can have fun and you can get results,” he said.
Football managers can be prone to compare themselves to professionals in other fields, but Rodgers took his chef metaphor extremely far.
“I always say a squad is like a good meal. I’m not a great cook, but a good meal takes a wee bit of time. But also, to offer a good meal you need good ingredients,” he said.
Does this make Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana a two-for-one takeaway deal in this metaphor?
In addition to improving the players with whom he worked, Rodgers’ attentiveness helped encourage players to join his project. Players like Origi, for example.
“There were offers from everywhere. Bayern were interested, all these clubs. But I came to Liverpool, I saw the facilities, I took some time out of my vacation to visit Melwood and speak with Brendan Rodgers,” the Belgian said.
“When I came in, everyone knew my name, they knew who I was and they were looking at a video of me even from the under-15s. They knew about my qualities and when I saw the values of the club – passing, pressing, fast players – I was like, ‘This is the place I want to go.'”
Just because a quote is about Brendan Rodgers doesn’t mean it hasn’t also come from the man, and many of his best lines display both too much and not enough self-awareness.
“My biggest mentor is myself because I’ve had to study and that’s been my biggest influence,” he said, and who are we to argue with both the subject and the object of the comment?
Gerrard’s words towards his former manager weren’t always positive, especially when it came to the approach to what would become known as “the slip game”, but there’s no doubt the England midfielder has some time for his former boss.
“I just wish I had met him when I was coming into my prime, maybe 25 or 26 years of age,” Gerrard said in 2015.
“I wish I’d had five, six, seven years with him as I believe I’d have a couple of medals that I sorely miss, which are Premier League medals.”
For all the David Brent-level soundbites from the end of his time Liverpool, the pièce de resistance came when he was the new man at the club.
“I’ve always said that you can live without water for many days, but you can’t live for a second without hope,” he said in 2013, ahead of his first return to Swansea.
We’re just going to leave that one there.
Where players and managers have struggled to condense the oeuvre of Brendan Rodgers, pundit and ex-pro John Giles did so perfectly.
Presumably frustrated by quotes like some of those above, Giles had his say on the manager’s style of talking not being what you’d necessarily expect from a football an.
“At times he was like the fella who you’d ask the time and he’d tell you how to build a clock,” he said. Beautiful.