Image Credit [BBC]
Leicester City have appointed Brendan Rodgers as their new manager following the sacking of Claude Puel after their 4-1 home loss against Crystal Palace. The Northern Irishman – who has left Celtic in the middle of another potential treble winning season – will want to prove a point to those who claimed that he should have done better the last time that he was managing in the Premier
Indeed, with the world-class triumvirate of Luis Suarez, Raheem Sterling and Phillipe Coutinho, it seems even more surprising now then it did at the time, that Liverpool did not manage to secure their first ever Premier League title under Rodgers’ stewardship. It is ironic, then, that he returns to the League in the season that the Reds have their best chance of being Premier League Champions since he left.
Rodgers did an excellent job with my club Swansea City, leading us to the Premier League and consolidating our league position, playing bright, tiki-taka football along the way. He has done a similar job with Celtic, where he has won the treble twice.
Leicester City, however, is a different challenge. In spite of their miraculous league victory in 2015/16, they are no longer a Premier League contender, like Liverpool were under Rodgers, nor are they content with simply Premier League survival, like Swansea were under the Northern Irishman. They are precisely in between.
There is no doubt that this will be a difficult challenge for Rodgers. Indeed, the gap between the top six and the rest is increasing, whilst the teams in the bottom half of the table are spending more and more in order to stay in the division. With such a dynamic, there seems to be little room for teams like Everton, West Ham and Leicester, who aren’t good enough to battle at the top, but have too much quality to think about relegation or even mid-table. Indeed, these three teams currently occupy 9th, 10th and 11th place, only 4 points behind 7th place and surprise package Wolves. Yet they are an insurmountable 17 points behind 6th placed Chelsea.
The other interesting thing about this move is the role reversal that it has seen. That is, as has been commented, when Celtic, in 2000, took Leicester City manager Martin O’Neil, there was little that The Foxes could do about it. The substantial fall in the quality and reputation of the Scottish First Division is such that this time around, even with an unprecedented treble-treble in sight, Celtic could not tempt Rodgers into staying, and he has left for a team that is, despite their quality, only a mid-table side this season. Such is the growing economic power that the Premier League harnesses. Celtic meanwhile have re-appointed ex-boss Neil Lennon, who masterminded victories over Barcelona, and will be hoping to bring a treble victory to Celtic Park, after their disappointing Europa League defeat to Valencia.
If Brendan Rodgers can replicate the football played at Swansea, Celtic and, at times, Liverpool, he will be a good appointment for Leicester City. What a good appointment will translate to in terms of league position, however, is harder to quantify. It seems that, for a team like Leicester, trying to close the ever-increasing gap between the top six and the rest, playing entertaining football, winning comfortably against the lower half teams and attempting to compete in both Cup competitions is about all they can hope to achieve over the next few seasons. Only time will tell whether Brendan Rodgers will be able to do just that.