By Tony Attwood
Steven Gerrard once reportedly described Brendan Rodgers’ one-on-one management as the best he had seen.
Such praise is in contrast to that afforded to Mikel Arteta at Arsenal, who when not being criticised for not buying lots of players, is criticised for saving the club a fortune by removing Aubameyang from the squad.
And yes, in his days at Liverpool and Celtic it may have been the case that Rodgers was a master of everything he did. Although maybe to qualify that a little, in his Liverpool days, the club came 7th, 2nd and 6th in the league and got to the semi-finals of the two domestic cups once each. And that with Luis Suarez in the team knocking in 30+ goals a season. They also made the Champions League once and got knocked out in the group stages.
Plus we might note he was sacked one hour after a derby game in October 2015 with the board of the club totally fed up with him.
At Celtic his departure followed a loss to Rangers, a failure to make it out of the Champions League group stages, elimination from the Europa League into which they dropped, and removal from the domestic league cup in the second round.
He was immediately offered a job with Leicester City in 2019 and won the FA Cup in 2021 thus getting into the Europa League, but after coming third in their group, Leicester dropped into the Europa Conference. Meanwhile, in the FA Cup, they were beaten this season by the team that knocked out Arsenal: Nottingham Forest. Although while Arsenal lost by just one goal, Leciester let the Championship side score four.
Reporting on the match the Telegraph said, “Leicester were abysmal, devoid of leadership and hunger, and the decision to play Danny Ward, the No 2 goalkeeper, ahead of Kasper Schmeichel was one of many mistakes. Tielemans, the captain, was taken off before the end after another poor performance, with Rodgers admitting he was “embarrassed” by the cup holders.”
In a subsequent speech the manager, refusing to accept any personal responsibility for anything that had happened (despite having overseen the recruitment at the club since his arrival three years before), said, “There are a lot of these players, between now and the end of the season, who need to prove that they are still worthy of being here. That’s why a lot of these players are not top players, because they can’t sustain it. There are players here that may have achieved everything that they can. It’s something we’ll have to look at between now and the end of the season.”
It was undoubtedly one of the most demotivating speeches ever delivered by a Premier League manager who seemed utterly incapable of accepting responsibility for anything.
But it is interesting that the media still talk up Rodgers. Yes, he won the club its first FA Cup, but then this was a club that won the league a couple of years before. But he has never performed as well as Mikel Arteta as a manager in Premier League football.
His win percentage with Liverpool was 50%. With Leicester City, it is 49%. This compares with Mikel Arteta who has a win percentage of 52.6%.
And yet Arteta and Arsenal get hammered all day long for failure and ineptitude while Leicester City and Rodgers are given a very easy ride by the media. Now, why is that?
Of course, we know that the Reach newspapers and websites have a permanent anti-Arsenal agenda which is still running day by day. We also know that Arsenal is constantly putting out the youngest team in the league, and getting results from doing so. What’s more given the talent in this team it is very, very likely to improve, while other teams will need to spend to replace older players that are leaving.
Let’s compare the two clubs and their current league record… (PPG = Points per game).
Both teams have been knocked out of the FA Cup by Nottingham Forest although Arsenal just by one goal. Arsenal are sixth in the league, Leicester 10th. Leicester have a manager with a long experience in league management, Arsenal have a newbie.
As we noted at the start Steven Gerrard once reportedly described Brendan Rodgers’ one-on-one management as the best he had seen.
And yet Arsenal get all the criticism. It’s a little bit odd.
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