When Claude Puel was sacked two days before a game, with just 11 to go, it looked like Leicester City would be riding the season out with a caretaker. Instead, they’ve acting incredibly quickly, with most outlets reporting that Celtic’s Brendan Rodgers could be signed as soon as today.
But is that the right move for the Foxes?
I would have to agree, but I also thought Puel was a good fit. But then, there are some good things to take away from the frenchman’s reign, and Rodgers’ ability to build on that is exactly why I think he’d be the best man for the job.
Stick to the plan
Much like his predecessor, the former Liverpool boss has never been shy to trust in his young players. This year he’s given significant time to 21 year olds like Kieran Tierney, Odsonne Eduoard and our own Filip Benković, while he also oversaw the introduction of Raheem Stirling as a regular at Liverpool.
That will obviously be key to the club’s long term success, with so many impressive young players to work with.
In fact, it may also be key to the short term performance as well. Rodgers has always been just as committed as Puel to playing a short passing, possession style of football. Rather than re-build, I fully expect him to continue to improve and develop the system already in place.
If he wants to do that, youngsters like Maddison, Barnes and Chilwell are vital to our ability to succeed in that type of game. Wilfred Ndidi might be more suited currently to a different system, but if given time to develop he clearly has the ability to grow into this setup as well.
Communication is key
Poor Claude was tasked with overhauling an ageing, but incredibly popular and successful squad, while also completely changing our style of play. On paper, he was ideal for it, but man-oh-man did he not have the presence required to pull it off.
Rodgers seems much better equipped for that type of ask, and of course it doesn’t hurt that Puel already took on many of the least popular tasks.
You go out feeling full of confidence and belief. His one-on-one management is the best I’ve known - Steven Gerrard was a big fan of Rodgers’ communication style at Liverpool
It’s hard to imagine many players commanding more respect or holding more weight in a dressing room than Gerrard towards the end of his time at Liverpool. Rodgers certainly won him over, and he seems to have the kind of forceful personality to work well with likes of Jamie Vardy and Kasper Schmeichel. Is it asking too much for him to convince Harry Maguire to stay another year?
He also has to win around the fans, but judging by the immediate reaction, it shouldn't be too hard. However you felt about Puel, the sense of relief at the situation ending has been palpable among the fans. Alan Pardew could win them over from here.
Room to grow
As many have been joyously pointing to out to fans of Celtic or, in fact, anyone who’ll listen, this appointment and the timing of it are already signs that the club have come a long way.
Times have changed.— John Bennett (@JohnBennettBBC) February 26, 2019
2000: Celtic take one of Leicester's most successful managers. No way Leicester can stop it happening.
2019: Leicester take the Celtic manager when they're on course for the triple treble. No way Celtic can stop it happening.
The Leicester City job is now legitimately among the top 7-8 positions in the Premier League, which puts it astonishingly high globally.
With the squad we have, the money available to invest and the incredible new training facility on the way, the Foxes need a manager to match the ambition of the club.
Rodgers has a history of success above expectations in the Premier League with smaller and larger clubs (laugh away, but Liverpool haven’t matched his 2nd place finish so far). He also achieved the “double-treble” in his first two years at Celtic.
I massively respect the fact that Rodgers is set to walk away from trophies and medals at Celtic to join #LCFC - an early sign of his commitment to the club.— Ian Stringer (@StringerSport) February 26, 2019
Somewhat surprisingly to me at least, he’s also just 46 years old. Managers rarely last long enough these days for their age to make much difference, but it’s always nice to see someone come in who can be in it for the long haul, growing with this young squad.
The biggest change the squad needs right is the ability to break down teams who sit back and invite you come at them. Guess what Celtic face every single week in the Scottish league?
Again, I thought Puel would be successful, so throw some grains of salt on this.
Still, I think this appointment
is would be a very encouraging sign for Leicester City. My initial gut reaction was not a positive one, but on reflection, I struggled to come up a criteria we needed that he doesn’t fill.
Make me look smart, Brendan.
UPDATE: This is a thing now