Why Man City vs Celtic is all about the man­agers

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

IN Celtic’s Cham­pi­ons League clash with Pep Guardi­ola’s Manch­ester City to­day, Bren­dan Rodgers will pit his wits against a man who has had a defin­ing in­flu­ence on his ca­reer. Whether with Swansea City, Liver­pool or Celtic, Rodgers has sought to em­u­late the kind of pass­ing foot­ball with which Guardi­ola took first Barcelona and then Bay­ern Mu­nich to the sum­mits of the game.

“I’ve ad­mired him from the out­side look­ing in, at the courage he has showed to play the mod­ern game,” Rodgers told Span­ish sports news­pa­per AS in 2014.

“His love and pas­sion [for] foot­ball, his great prin­ci­ples and ideas, and the con­fi­dence he gives to peo­ple.”

Jose Mour­inho gave Rodgers his first big leg-up in pro­fes­sional foot­ball, invit­ing the North­ern Ir­ish­man, then work­ing in the academy at Read­ing, to join him at Chelsea in 2004.

But it is Guardi­ola, Mour­inho’s neme­sis, whose ex­am­ple Rodgers has al­ways strived to follow and it was in Guardi­ola’s na­tive Spain that his ideas about how to play the game took shape.

Rodgers, 43, is an ex­po­nent of the joined-up coach­ing phi­los­o­phy prac­tised by clubs like Barcelona, where youth play­ers are taught to play in the same pos­ses­sion-fo­cused way as the first team.

Prior to join­ing Mour­inho at Chelsea, he spent time tour­ing Span­ish clubs – Barcelona, Va­len­cia, Sevilla – to learn about their devel­op­ment of young play­ers.

The Span­ish in­flu­ence was ap­par­ent at both Swansea and Liver­pool.

Luis Suarez, the for­mer Liver­pool striker, says Rodgers spoke to him in Span­ish when they first met and the Uruguay in­ter­na­tional ap­pre­ci­ated the Span­ish touches in Rodgers’s ap­proach.

“You could see a Span­ish in­flu­ence in the way that Bren­dan worked,” Suarez, now of Barcelona, wrote in his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy.

“He was in­ter­ested in Spain, he had stud­ied there and what he’d learnt there was at the heart of our style of play.

“Pass­ing, pres­sur­ing high, quick move­ment, ar­riv­ing into the area rather than stand­ing there wait­ing for it,

Photo: AFP

Man City’s Pep Guardi­ola (left) has of­ten been copied in style by Celtic’s Bren­dan Rodgers (right).

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