Brendan Rodgers is creating small miracles at Leicester City

A glance at the Premier League table shouldn’t hold too many surprises, Liverpool top with a 100% record, Manchester City close behind, whilst Norwich and Watford are struggling. But look closer and you’ll see a team that you wouldn’t expect to be so high up, and that is Leicester City.

True Leicester stunned everybody when they won the league title in 2016, but since then they have reverted back to, well, just being Leicester, a decent team who try to finish in mid table with relegation never quite far away.

However that thought process seems to have changed since the arrival of ex Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers. Rodgers was at Celtic where he had been incredibly successful in Scotland, although with the transistion of Rangers it could be argued that Celtic did not really have any proper competition- still you can only beat what is put out in front of you and Rodgers did do a superb job with the legendary Glasgow team.

What was surprising about Rodgers joining up with Leicester was the timing, he came in February last season and Celtic’s loss has been Leicester’s gain. The Foxes look rejuvenated and started to bring about solid results and ended up finishing the season on a high.

That high has continued and the team are in great confidence going into this season. They currently sit in 3rd place and have not lost a game, only Liverpool and Manchester City are the other unbeaten teams so far.

The statistics are very interesting since Rodgers took over also. He has a 47.5% win rate with the Foxes which doesn’t look that great, but it is a win rate only and so when the club draw that isn’t included. The wider picture is that from 15 games since Rodgers has been in charge the club have only lost 3 times. They have gained 26 points in that time and if we took that as an average throughout the season then Leicester would finish on 65 points, their highest in Premier League history not counting their league win.

There is a good attitude around the club and they won’t be easy to beat this season and won’t be pushovers for the bigger teams. Look at how they came away from Stamford Bridge against Chelsea and got a 1-1 draw. That was impressive given that the team were 1-0 down and it was Chelsea manager Frank Lampard’s first game at home in charge of his beloved team.

That type of spirit shows that this team have a lot of quality this season, and whilst thinking that they can go on to win another title feels too wishful, Rodgers is creating small miracles with the club, and they are aiming to finish high in the league this season with a deep cup run to boot. Back against them at your peril.

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Big season ahead for Leicester’s James Maddison

Leicester City’s James Maddison has a very, very bright future ahead of him.

Now 22, Maddison has a season of Premier League experience under his belt at the King Power Stadium and will be looking to build on that with Brendan Rodgers’ guidance in the next couple of years.

Maddison joined Leicester City last July from Norwich City for around €25 million. The creative midfielder had impressed at Carrow Road in the Championship and Leicester’s then-manager Claude Puel felt Maddison was ready for the step up to English football’s top tier. Continue reading

Why is Leicester City’s Harry Maguire worth £80m?


Leicester City’s Harry Maguire is being chased by both Manchester clubs with City, the current champions looking the favourites from the two to get his signature. But the asking price seems incredibly inflated. The Foxes want £80m for their defender- the genuine question is, how did they get to this figure?

Maguire has won no major trophies in his career and he is 26- he has never played for a top 4 side, not even top 6. Though he did join Leicester the season after they were declared champions. Has the price been inflated then because he is a current England international player with 20 caps- it does seem so.

The reality of the situation is that in the current price market Maguire is worth no more than £35m, and teams valuations of players has gone through the roof. Sadly for Premier League clubs selling on English players it has always been like this, when a few extra million seems to attach onto any fee.

City and United have the money but City have taken over United now and they will most likely get his signature. No one is denying that Maguire could become a better all round player at City and put in good displays, but City will not be making any money on the player in the future- indeed his value if sold for £80m will start to decrease the moment he puts pen to paper.

The reality of it is is that Leicester have no right to ask so much for the player, the price compared to what Maguire has achieved has no justification, plain and simple.

England’s manager Gareth Southgate hasn’t helped the situation, he once ill advised that Maguire was one of the best defenders in the world. Again totally unjustified. Maguire is a good defender and would never have made it in England’s set up otherwise and starred of course in a World Cup which saw England reach the semi-final stages. But one of the best makes little sense for a player who has played in his career for the likes of Hull and Leicester and we need to be realistic of that fact.

For now United have lodged a £70m bid which is ridiculous in and of itself, and Leicester had the bravado to turn that down and then ask for £10m extra. The fear for United is that their rivals will seriously start sniffing around and come in for the player. But no team is getting a good deal or bargain here.



Leicester and Rodgers to push for Premier League top six next season?

Leicester City

As a club, Leicester City has had more anguish to deal with this season than most.

Back in late October, the club’s 60-year-old Thai owner, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, along with four others, including the pilot, died when his helicopter crashed to the ground shortly after takeoff from the King Power Stadium.

Srivaddhanaprabha had just watched his team draw 1-1 at home to West Ham United before then attempting to make his usual helicopter trip back to his home in London.

A grey cloud covered the club over the following weeks with the playing staff all attending their previous owner’s funeral in Bangkok. Continue reading

The brilliance of Pep Guardiola has made Raheem Sterling a world class player


It has been apparent that every time Manchester City are scoring so is their striker Raheem Sterling and the forward is now repeating that trick with the England national team.

Sterling was on hand for Gareth Southgate’s team when they destroyed Czech Republic in their opening Euro 2020 qualifier which ended in a 5-0 win for the English. Sterling no less scored a hat trick, but it was the way he done it, the way that he has manned up over the last 3 months which is attracting fans of the game.

Let’s make no mistake that Sterling has always been seen as a good solid player that can score goals, but one whose career could just have passed in by. Look at his club Manchester City and the wealth of talent that they have including Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus for scoring goals. But Sterling has risen alongside those players and at times in the past few months has surpassed them. He is scoring goals but he is also creating them, and his finishing is second to none.

Southgate is now seeing the very best of a player who has spent just the right amount of time under his club manager Pep Guardiola to get the best out of him. There is no doubt that Sterling has matured and become the complete player under Guardiola, who could have seen that coming when Sterling was being coached by Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool a few years ago? In one infamous clip on you tube he gets told off by Rodgers during a training session. But in just 4 short years Sterling has gone from potential to a world class player.


It is telling of course that 4 years ago Xavi of Barcelona admitted that Sterling could play for Barcelona, he saw him as that good and Sterling has shown the world just how good he has been banging in goals for City at club and Champions League level. He has gone from being the incomplete player that could save his team and then have inconsistent games, usually going down too easily, to someone who has toughened up and scoring almost at freewill his form has been so good.

Sterling also has a finesse about him, a majority of his goals lately have been sublime reminding one of the likes of Thierry Henry or a vintage Marco van Basten. At just 24 Sterling has the world at his feet and his near £50m switch from Liverpool to City now seems like a bargain.

With such a close title run in with his former team this season, it would be ironic if Sterling was to end up being the difference.

Rodgers’ reputation can be restored after Liverpool lessons

rodgers efl

Brendan Rodgers’ last game as Liverpool manager was October’s 1-1 draw in the Merseyside derby with Everton in October 2015 and, with modern football routinely consigning bosses to the scrap heap after they fail at one club, it would be a shame if that is Rodgers’ last involvement at the highest level of English football.

It almost certainly won’t be, it should be said. He’ll be back. Few envisioned Steve McClaren as a Premier League manager again after his nightmare with England but there he is, ensconced at Newcastle, for now. It might take some time for Rodgers’ reputation to be restored to the level it was when Liverpool so nearly won the league, but he’ll get another chance and rightly so.

Rodgers’ biggest problem – aside from the Reds’ confused transfer structure – was of his own making. The perception of Rodgers went from a bright, tactically aware coach at Swansea, to a David Brent-like chancer in his early Anfield tenure. The title tilt of 2013-14 tipped the balance back in the other direction, Rodgers’ team changing their shape to devastating effect and the front three of Luis Suarez, Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge, particularly excellent as part of a diamond formation.

But then the pendulum went back the other way and the soundbites outweighed the success. Rodgers appeared a parody of himself, of glib management speak, particularly as Liverpool struggled post-Suarez. The club embarrassed the manager by signing Mario Balotelli shortly after Rodgers had rubbished the very idea, and his team was left desperately short of goals when the Italian struggled and Sturridge’s injury problems started.

It was a long, painful decline from second place to the sack and, even if he didn’t anticipate it, the decision may prove to be the best thing for Rodgers’ career. He can reinvent himself somewhere, if he bides his time and waits for the right chance. There’s no need to leap into the first vacancy that comes available, and jobs at Aston Villa, Sunderland and his old club Swansea have come up and gone elsewhere in the time Rodgers has been on the sidelines. It’s hard to see how any of those positions would have suited his particular traits.

What Rodgers arguably needs isn’t a role where he’s required to play firefighter, saving a team from relegation, but somewhere more stable. He isn’t a rousing, Sam Allardyce-like presence but a more considered, nuanced instructor. A club with a strong youth policy to take advantage of Rodgers’ proven track record of working with young players, a smart scouting network to avoid repeating the problems of Liverpool’s transfer committee and the space to grow, without the expectations of his former post, would be ideal.

A club such as that may be a rare beast. Southampton are probably the best fit right now, and Ronald Koeman may be doing a fine job, but he won’t be there forever. The planets might not align perfectly to allow Rodgers to replace the Dutchman – Rodgers says he wants to be back in work this summer – but the scope is most definitely there for Rodgers to return and be better for his Anfield experience.

Goodbye to the British manager


If British players are overpriced, then British managers are overlooked. Aston Villa’s sacking of Tim Sherwood and hiring of Remi Garde as his replacement brings the number of British or Irish bosses in the Premier League down to eight, less than half, and follows Liverpool’s decision to replace Brendan Rodgers with Jurgen Klopp. It’s not a new trend, but it’s one that shows no sign of abating.

Managers, like players, shouldn’t be judged on their nationality, and perhaps the real question is why more than half of the highest level of English football feels the need to look elsewhere when hiring. But it’s surely disheartening to British former players or lower league managers, who see their path to the country’s biggest clubs blocked by more fashionable names from foreign climbs.

It may be an inevitable step as more Premier League clubs fall under foreign ownership, or, if not foreign ownership, then a new type of owner who wants greater control over their investment. Are owners from abroad more naturally inclined to look abroad, given that they themselves have no geographic ties to the club they own? Does the generation of owners removed from the old prototype, the local-boy, fan-of-the-club-made-good best evidenced today by Bill Kenwright at Everton, see a structure more commonplace on the continent but largely viewed with suspicion in Britain – a head coach and a director of football – as a way of obtaining the influence they desire, or at least protecting their resources from wasteful spending?

Both Villa and Liverpool are under American ownership, John W. Henry and Randy Lerner approaching the world of sport and business in an entirely different way from what was usually the case in English football. Not necessarily better, or worse, just different. For Henry and Lerner, and the underlings who run the club day-to-day in accordance with the structure implemented by the owner, what has gone before, the manner in which their predecessors operated, matters little. Indeed, if their way worked, the clubs wouldn’t have been up for sale in the first place.

Klopp was immediately linked with the Liverpool vacancy when Rodgers was sacked in October, and indeed a number of supporters hoped he’d replace Rodgers the moment it was confirmed he was leaving Borussia Dortmund. Other names appeared on the bookmakers’ shortlist, but they were long, long odds compared to the German. It may never be known to whom Liverpool would have turned if they couldn’t get Klopp; perhaps they’d been burned on British managers by their experiences with Rodgers. Perhaps they’d have surprised us all and turned to a Garry Monk or an Eddie Howe.

Villa decided against a British manager, Monk, Howe or even David Moyes, at Real Sociedad. There’s been no return for Alan Curbishley, little involvement for Glenn Hoddle. Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher prefer commentary to coaching. If Sunderland had been unable to hire Sam Allardyce, would they have gone British to replace Dick Advocaat – Sean Dyche for example, or Steve Clarke?

We’ll never know, but it seems certain that if Jose Mourinho does get the push at Chelsea, his successor will be non-British or Irish. There are no credible candidates from the Home Nations, and that’s another issue that needs addressing. But as seen in Huddersfield’s pick of David Wagner, a former United States international who worked with Klopp at Dortmund, to replace Chris Powell, the trend is creeping into the Championship and beyond. Where next for the British or Irish manager?

Liverpool’s Christian Benteke impresses on his home debut

Liverpool striker Christian Benteke scored the only goal of the game on his home debut to earn his new side all three points against AFC Bournemouth on Monday night.

The Belgian international created more chances (4) than any other player on the pitch, and showcased his aerial dominance with 10 duels won over the course of the evening. He proved to be a useful out-ball when Liverpool were forced to go long in defence, and even hit the woodwork late on to wrap up the win.

Benteke had brief moments of clever interchanges with the likes of Philippe Coutinho, and was full of running for the side too. Often the 24-year-old peeled off a Bournemouth defender to hold the ball up down the channels, allowing Liverpool to regain their shape and build an attack. Manager Brendan Rodgers was delighted with the striker’s performance.

“He gives other options in the game, when teams try to press us high. I thought his hold-up play was excellent. You can see his feet – he’s got a good touch and awareness for a big guy and, of course, naturally when the ball comes into the box he’s a big threat. He deserved his goal and will be disappointed he didn’t get another, but it was a good night for him,” said the Liverpool boss.

Benteke himself admitted his excitement to have finally got off the mark for his new club, saying: “I think it’s a great day, for myself and the team. The more important thing tonight is the three points, but I should have scored (the effort that hit the woodwork).

Signed from Aston Villa for around £30M this summer, question marks were raised at the lofty asking price given the goal droughts and lacklustre performances have been prevalent during his time with the Midlands outfit, but Benteke temporarily silenced critics with a strong debut showing in a Liverpool shirt.

His goal earned the Reds their second win in an many Premier League games this season, and will have given confidence to Rodgers that he can be a useful option when injury-prone Daniel Sturridge is out of action. Benteke’s goal was a wrapped in controversy, with Philippe Coutinho influencing the play from an offside position, but the Belgian took his chance when it came to him, and will be hoping to replicate his debut season at Villa Park (19 Premier League goals). He’s certainly got off to an ideal start.

Is it time for Liverpool to let Raheem Sterling finally leave?

Liverpool forward Raheem Sterling has reportedly told manager Brendan Rodgers that he no longer wants to play for the Merseysiders, and wasn‘t present at training today. The England international, 20, held talks with the ex-Swansea City boss to once again reiterate his desire to leave, and more specifically had no desire to play under Rodgers at Anfield.

The club have denied the allegations, but Sterling has since missed training and has requested he not be selected to go on pre-season tour to Australia and the Far East with the Reds. The former Queens Park Rangers winger is trying everything in his power to force a move away this summer, but Liverpool have already turned down two lucrative bids from Manchester City worth around £35M & £40M respectively.

While Sterling remains part of the club, Liverpool have already spent some of his prospective money on a replacement. Hoffenheim forward Roberto Firmino was brought in this summer for around £30M, and operates in largely the same positions as his English counterpart. The Reds have also recruited the likes of James Milner and Danny Ings to further bolster their midfield and attack.

Regardless of whether or not Liverpool see Sterling as part of their plans for the future, they now have a decision to make on whether to actively offer him out to be compensated or his services, or to stick to their guns and persuade him to commit to an extended contract. The youngster still has two years left on his deal with the Premier League outfit, so the ball is still in Liverpool’s court. They wont want to lose him for nothing, and have time somewhat on their side to hash out his immediate future.

He had an indifferent last season for the Merseysiders, scoring and assisting 14 goals in 35 Premier League appearances, while making 75 chances and over 100 successful dribbles. He showed his quality for Liverpool throughout the season, but the cons have since outweighed the pros following his conduct. His asking price will diminish every minute as Sterling’s actions are leaving the club with no choice but to let him go.

It would be hard to see how the 20-year-old can resurrect his fractured relationship with the club now, but former teammate Luis Suarez made a U-turn on a transfer request in the summer of 2013 to almost lead the side to Premier League glory the following season. Supporters will be tired of seeing Sterling dominate the headlines, and will be desperate for the club to part ways with him so they can attempt to move forward.

Should Liverpool consider bringing back Rafael Benitez to replace Brendan Rodgers?

Napoli secured a 2-2 draw with VFL Wolfsburg in the Europa League’s 2nd leg of their Quarter-Final tie, to earn a place in the semi-finals of the competition. Napoli’s manager is Rafael Benitez, formerly in charge of Liverpool between 2004 & 2010, and he has been linked recently with a move back to the Premier League. His former side the Reds are on course for a trophyless campaign under manager Brendan Rodgers, with Liverpool’s most recent disappointment being the loss to to Aston Villa in the FA Cup semi-final.

Benitez, 55, could well win the Europa League for the second time in three seasons – the first being with Chelsea in 2012/13. The Spanish manager won the Coppa Italia with Napoli in his debut campaign, and is now dreaming of making the Europa League final with the Serie A outfit aiming to end his time on a high. In all likelihood, Benitez will likely depart the club in the summer for a fresh start in England or Spain.

Liverpool supporters are debating his potential return to Anfield, with current boss Brendan Rodgers looking likely to have missed out on a top-four finish in the Premier League. This season has been one of inconsistency on Merseyside, and despite an upturn in results in 2015, the Reds have not been able to make up for their poor showings in the first-half of the campaign.

The answer to their problems could well be former fans’ favourite Benitez, who has made it clear that he would like a return to the Premier League in the future, but which club he would join is another matter. His reputation is intact after an impressive interim spell with Chelsea, and his relative success in cup competitions at Napoli will make up for the stumble in the Serie A, thus, he is a coach who will surely be coveted in the summer.

Most likely Benitez would jump at the chance of a return to Liverpool over many other clubs showing an interest. It is noteworthy that he has at times given his opinion on the Merseysiders and their current campaign. He still pays attention to how they are doing, but it would be a huge decision to axe Rodgers, given that he has not performed too badly since taking over and considering the shaky state the Reds were in prior to his appointment.

Rafael Benitez, however, is a manager who could bring in big-name players with his standing in the game, and would bring a new positive mentality to the side, as Liverpool have looked jaded and bereft of luck in recent weeks. The club could well take advantage of this opportunity, as the Spaniard is not likely to be around for long this summer.

So could Rafael Benitez replace Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool ahead of next season?