Setting aside Brendan Rodgers’ achievements at Celtic, where he won all seven domestic trophies on offer at his time here, his best season in football south of the border was 2020-21, at Leicester City. That season he won the FA Cup, the first time Leicester lifted that trophy, and finished fifth in the league. Dropping five points in their final two games of that season saw them slip from third. A late collapse against Tottenham on the final 14 minutes of the season saw them lose out on a Champions League spot.
As he watched Casper Schmeichel lift the FA Cup a week later, Brendan was at the peak of his powers. Two years after taking control at the midlands club, silverware was back in the trophy room, and they had qualified for the Europa League. Until the closing weeks of the season, only the two Manchester clubs were above them, neither of whom were in contention when Leicester’s miracle league win happened in 2016. Without Claudio Ranieri’s achievement, Brendan’s would have received even greater praise.
There was no shame in the fact that Leicester did not kick on in the following season. They slipped to an eighth place finish that year later, as Arsenal, Tottenham and West Ham all moved above them. European competition seemed to tax his side, where they ended third in their Europa group, before a run to the semi-finals of the new Conference League.
The wheels came off spectacularly last season. A home draw against Brentford and win over Nottingham Forest was all they had to show after nine league games, a run which saw Arsenal hit four, Brighton five and Tottenham six against them.
New signings were made last season, the joint-most expensive of whom was the £17m capture of Aberdeen-born Australia international, Harry Souttar (24). Harry was part of the Australia side that won admirers during December’s World Cup. Brendan moved for the player a month later.
Dundee United and Ross County fans pondered what happened to their former player to cause such a dramatic improvement in form, while some of us wondered if Brendan had made a classic tournament-scouting mistake. In other news, Jack Hendry made seven league starts at Brugge last season, he was surely available for a lot less than £17.
Brendan can motivate and man manage with the very best of them. Alongside Chris Davies, who yesterday joined Ange Postecoglou at Tottenham, he was able to coach and organise. For me, his Achilles Heel is player trading. Fix that, and you have a more complete package.