Premier League

Rodgers will be a Leicester success but Celtic legacy will be forever tainted

 • by Adam Newson
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Almost 12 months ago Brendan Rodgers was facing questions over his Celtic future. At that stage, he was being touted as Arsène Wenger’s successor at Arsenal. Yet the Northern Irishman claimed he wasn’t ready to leave Glasgow.

“My genuine love is improving players, making them better, helping the club improve,” he told the Mail on Sunday. “So do I go somewhere where I might have six games… that wouldn’t make me happy.

“I’m in a position where I’m in my dream job. As a guy from Northern Ireland who supported Celtic and worked in football, I’m living my dream.”

Rodgers is a smart man, though. And he has learnt from previous mistakes when dealing with the media. So he immediately added in a caveat to those comments.

“I want to work through until I’m 60 and get to a thousand games. I probably know I won’t do the other 500-odd games here at Celtic.”

Which brings us to the present day. Rodgers’ time at Celtic appears to be over, and far sooner than many would’ve anticipated. According to numerous reports, he is prepared to leave the club mid-season and take over at Leicester City.

It is certainly a curious situation.

Rodgers’ side are on track to complete the ‘treble treble’, a clean sweep of Scottish football’s domestic trophies in each of his three seasons in charge. He has also previously pledged to guide Celtic to ten consecutive titles, a feat which would eclipse Rangers’ – and their own – record of nine in a row.

Leicester, meanwhile, are 12th in the Premier League. The Foxes, who sacked Claude Puel on Sunday, will not be relegated yet are unlikely to achieve much else of note this season.

Mid-table mediocrity. Top-flight stability. They are certainly not easy to achieve in the ever-changing landscape of English football. For Leicester, though, it is no longer enough. Their 2015 title win, a fairytale success, changed the club’s reality. The expectation now is they should be in the top echelon of the Premier League, season in, season out.

“Once they get their act together it’s actually not a bad club,” Peter Schmeichel, father of first-choice goalkeeper Kasper, told French media last week. “Leicester have good players, but they don’t have the manager who can get the best out of them.

“Once they’ve got all that sorted out, you’ll see Leicester in fifth to eighth place, where they belong.”

That, you imagine, is the attraction for Rodgers. Nudge the Foxes a few positions up the Premier League and he will be deemed a success. His CV enhanced once more. His ego massaged.

Brendan Rodgers, Celtic

The lonely Bhoy

Rodgers’ decision to depart mid-season has, understandably, angered Celtic fans. He was one of them; a supporter in the dugout. A man who wouldn’t walk away with his job only half finished.

That he has chosen to do so indicates two things. The first is perhaps his affection for the club wasn’t as deep as publically claimed. And the second is clearly not all is well behind the scenes at Celtic Park.

Rodgers admitted in January the Bhoys’ business the previous summer weakened his squad. That Celtic had to resort to loan deals to rectify the problems in January was hardly ideal. It simply papered over cracks and delayed the need to find solutions.

“It’s pretty clear at this moment in time that we are under strength from where we’ve been in the previous two seasons,” the 46-year-old explained in July.

“We have to bring in players that are going to improve the squad, rather than just add to it. That takes finance and that takes money. Until we can do that, I’ll work with the players we have.”

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