The first time I came across Brendan Rodgers was in a Championship preview in 2009 when Newcastle were adapting to their first relegation under the previous owner. Rodgers brought a new look Reading side up to SJP, they were soundly beaten by a Shola treble, but he talked about having a plan and needing time to implement it with the players. Now he’s linked to the home dugout, it’s a good chance to look at how he got here and what he might bring.

Rodgers was a promising player at Ballymena in Northern Ireland, before heading over to play for Reading. However, at the age of 20 he was forced to retire due to a serious knee condition. He then stepped into coaching which allowed him to start working with younger players and eventually became the director of their academy. They placed huge faith in him but he was then recommended to Chelsea where he came in 2004, to work alongside a new manager, Jose Mourinho.

Two years leading Chelsea’s academy, led to another two year stint in charge of their reserves. The academy logjam was already building up and some serious talent was in the reserves. Rodgers was highly rated. In 2008 with their good wishes he took up post at Watford. After a shocking start of two wins in ten, they were still in the relegation zone in January but finished in a decent thirteenth place. Then came the stint at Reading. His possession based style was first truly unveiled here but it would be fair to describe it as a disaster. He was out by Christmas with the team almost in the bottom three. Watford fans saw that as justification for what they saw as Rodgers deserting them at the first opportunity (more on that later).

Having taken until the end of the season to take stock and review his position, he was approached by Roberto Mancini to join his staff at Manchester City. Instead he opted for the managers job at Swansea where he built on the foundations left by his predecessors to lead them to the playoff final at the first attempt. Swansea beat Reading to enter the top flight, showing some emotion in consoling his opposite number and John Madjeski before celebrating. His first season in the Premier League saw the Swans finish eleventh (as Pardew took us to fifth) and though he signed a new three year contract the big clubs were already circling. That summer he was offered the Liverpool job.

His Liverpool team was exceptional in those first two seasons with the team clearly buying into his management style. The dubious tactic of names in envelopes looked odd, but the real takeaway about Rodgers from the show made for US audiences was the picture of himself he had hung in his office. He’d bought it in a charity auction but that wasn’t made clear. Other humorous moments included naming his core midfield but forgetting Steven Gerrard, whilst talking to new signing Jonjo Shelvey. With Suarez and Sturridge flying he came so close to title glory with Liverpool in 2014 but after that things started to fizzle out. Sterling’s departure to Man City and Suarez to Barcelona didn’t help but it felt like they weren’t ready to rebuild. When Rodgers left he became the first Liverpool manager in sixty years to manage the club for three years and not win a trophy.

So to Celtic where he won seven trophies (but really eight) in his three year stay, they were utterly dominant, played scintillating football and were so easy on the eye. Where Rodgers never succeeded with Celtic was in Europe where results were continually disappointing. A sixty nine game British record unbeaten run domestically was weighed against never getting further than the Europa League last thirty two.

He left under a cloud, Celtic fans furious that he would leave such a great position and squad for Leicester City. But he did and in 19/20 and 20/21 took them to within one game of the Champions League spots. Bar his time at Celtic he had never won a trophy but he put that right with the 2021 FA Cup.

So what would we be getting from Rodgers? He worked successfully at Celtic and at Liverpool with other people being involved in transfers. Showed the ability to build a style at all the clubs he has managed and spot players who are tailored to that. He has brought through players to shine at each team – Firmino and Coutinho at Liverpool, Moussa Dembele, Odsonne Edouard at Celtic, Harvey Barnes and Ben Chilwell at Leicester.

The ego seems lower and the desire to be better still seems there. The concern from fans of some of his old clubs is that he is only concerned about himself, protecting brand Brendan, but if that includes winning who cares. The most important thing now is whether or not he sees us as a project to be part of. I would suspect he does but will he want to risk his position with Leicester fans to bring his plan to us.

Rodgers teams have always played possession football and though do counter attack, have always had the option to play themselves rather than sit in. That would be welcome. Now will he see the ability that he thinks he would need in this squad to get to that? I would suggest no but if he could turn up with Wilfred Ndidi in January and start from there we might all enjoy a short trip to a Brendan wonderland.

STEPHEN ORD