Brendan Rodgers finally gets one over on Liverpool
After almost leading Liverpool to the Premier League title in 2014, before *that* slip from Steven Gerrard led to the team’s capitulation with three games to go, Brendan Rodgers was riding the crest of a wave as far as his managerial reputation was concerned. His brand of attacking football at Anfield had led to a rollercoaster season for Liverpool, where they notched a mammoth 101 Premier League goals and came so close to blitzing their way to the title.
Now that Liverpool have finally got their hands on that 19th Premier League title, the pain of that narrow miss has been softened somewhat within the club, but there’s no doubt that Rodgers himself still suffers from the trauma of that squandered opportunity, especially given how his spell at Anfield came to an end – sacked in October 2015 after a disappointing sixth-place finish the season before.
Rodgers’ time at Liverpool was a tale of what might have been. Had Liverpool won the title that season, perhaps the Northern Irishman would still be in charge at Anfield, with Jürgen Klopp plying his trade at some other European giant. As it is, Rodgers left and enjoyed a period of fine success at Celtic, before taking on the Leicester City job in February 2019.
The 48-year-old doesn’t give the image of one who holds bitterness over past events, but there’s no doubt that Rodgers greatly enjoyed his side’s recent 3-1 defeat of Liverpool in the Premier League – the first time he has got one over on the Reds since he departed the club five and a half years ago.
Mohamed Salah had given Liverpool the lead midway through the second half and it had looked as though more pain was coming Rodgers’ way at the hands of his old club, but the Northern Irishman threw caution to the wind in the final 20 minutes and after a five-minute blitz of goals – indeed, reminiscent of Liverpool under Rodger’s reign – Leicester had established a 3-1 lead and Liverpool were left shell-shocked.
“We had a great reaction to going behind,” Rodgers reflected. “That, a year ago, might have disappointed us, but we kept going. We got the equaliser and then we changed the shape of the team to try and win the game and we came out on the other side of a fantastic performance and win. When you beat a team of that quality, of course it continues that confidence that you have.”
The win was a personal triumph for Rodgers, but it also represents a major step forward in terms of Leicester’s hopes for Champions League football. The Foxes sit in third place in the Premier League table at the time of writing, and while a title challenge is surely beyond them, earning a spot in the top four would be a fine achievement given the heartbreak they suffered on the final day of last season – missing out having been in the Champions League positions for so long. At the time of writing, they are odds-on favourites in the sports betting online to finish in the top four.
It’s hard to believe that Liverpool’s title collapse under Rodgers was nearly seven years ago, but now he has a chance to truly put those bad memories to bed and achieve greater things with Leicester – a club on the rise. Rodgers always mentions in interviews that the disappointment and struggles at Liverpool were among his greatest learning experiences as a coach. It could well prove that Leicester become the ultimate beneficiaries of the darkest days of Rodgers’ career. Both manager and club have seemingly limitless potential.