‘Top English clubs may not go for Rodgers’

Walsh says Celtic man­ager was hard done by down south, but may strug­gle to make re­turn


LIVER­POOL’S Euro­pean Cup fi­nal­ist Paul Walsh reck­ons Bren­dan Rodgers was harshly dealt with when he was sacked as An­field man­ager.

But he con­cedes the man who is on course to guide Celtic to an un­beaten do­mes­tic treble is still un­likely to get another top job south of the bor­der. Not be­cause of lack of tal­ent, but rather the af­fil­i­a­tion to his old club ward­ing off any ri­vals as po­ten­tial suitors.

Rodgers was ag­o­nis­ingly close in 2014 to be­com­ing the first Liver­pool man­ager to win the English ti­tle since Kenny Dal­glish in 1990.

The North­ern Ir­ish­man’s side looked on course to pip Manch­ester City to the Pre­mier League crown only for a fate­ful slip by Steven Ger­rard against Chelsea to al­low Demba Ba to score and ul­ti­mately scup­per Liver­pool’s ti­tle hopes.

It was a blow the Mersey­side out­fit never fully re­cov­ered from, with Rodgers re­lieved of his po­si­tion only two months into the fol­low­ing sea­son.

Walsh has watched on as the man who now stands in the home tech­ni­cal area at Park­head has re­ju­ve­nated a be­lea­guered Celtic team who un­der his stew­ard­ship have yet to lose a do­mes­tic game and are only one match away from the Lad­brokes Premier­ship, and what he sees only re­it­er­ates the feel­ing of in­jus­tice on the man who took his old club the clos­est they have come to glory in a gen­er­a­tion.

“It just shows how quickly your for­tunes change in foot­ball when you con­sider Bren­dan Rodgers was one Steven Ger­rard slip away from win­ning the English Pre­mier League and then he was sacked six months later,” said Walsh.

“I sup­pose I did think it was a bit harsh at the time when he was sacked at An­field, but be­fore Christ­mas ev­ery­one was singing Jur­gen Klopp’s praises and then they have a bad Jan­uary and peo­ple start to crit­i­cise, ask ques­tions and start moan­ing. But over a long sea­son there are ups and downs. Liver­pool’s aim would have been to be in the top four and Bren­dan Rodgers nearly won the ti­tle, so you could al­ways ar­gue it was unfair for him to be sacked.

“Foot­ball is such a cruel game at times. That one slip – not just for him but for Steven Ger­rard – was cruel be­cause they de­served to win it and the whole sea­son turned on that one mis­take. Some­times it just doesn’t hap­pen. It’s been hard for Liver­pool be­cause they haven’t won the league for so long and, to make it worse, Manch­ester United have been rub­bing their noses in it. So to get so close and then have the rug pulled away was ab­so­lutely heart­break­ing for ev­ery­one.

“I’m sure he would have felt he could have fin­ished the job off at Liver­pool – and he pos­si­bly could have done – but things change and he’s had to move up the road and Celtic are by far and away the best side in Scot­land.”

With a Betfred Cup al­ready tucked away, the Premier­ship ti­tle to fol­low most likely in a mat­ter of days and a Wil­liam Hill Scot­tish Cup semi-fi­nal date with Rangers on the hori­zon, it is fair to say Rodgers has helped as­sert Celtic’s dom­i­nance on this era of Scot­tish foot­ball. Not to men­tion the fact that, bar­ring two draws, they have won ev­ery do­mes­tic match played.

Yet Walsh, who in over 70 games for Liver­pool won the league ti­tle and was part of a team that came run­ners-up in the 1984 Su­per Cup and 1985 Euro­pean Cup, has his doubts over whether or not Rodgers’ magic at Park­head will be enough to even­tu­ally per­suade one of Eng­land’s su­per­pow­ers to come call­ing.

“To be fair, he’s ex­pected to do well at Celtic,” said the 54-year-old. “As an out­sider look­ing in, he’s got the best play­ers, is at the big­gest club and has the big­gest bud­get. Would any­thing else be ac­cept­able other than what he’s do­ing?

“It’s not easy to go un­de­feated but he’s ex­pected to win every­thing in sight and that’s what they’re do­ing, although I ac­cept he’s break­ing a few records along the way to make it a bit more im­pres­sive. It was al­ways go­ing to be dif­fi­cult for him af­ter Liver­pool. Where do you get back in if you’re in the Pre­mier League? He needed suc­cess and Celtic was a great op­tion.

“Bren­dan might be wait­ing for a top Euro­pean job. I’m not sure he’ll get a top-six English Pre­mier League job. Maybe if, say, Southamp­ton were bought over by wealthy over­seas own­ers then they might fancy him to kick it on. Bren­dan’s prob­lem is that once you’ve been at Liver­pool then Manch­ester United don’t want you, Ever­ton won’t have you. Manch­ester City won’t have you. You won’t get a top-six team again.

“Ed­die Howe has been men­tioned as a po­ten­tial re­place­ment for Arsene Wenger at Arse­nal but I sup­pose you could ar­gue Bren­dan Rodgers would pos­si­bly fit in there.

“I don’t know if he would be on Arse­nal’s radar.”

RODGERS THAT: Paul Walsh (inset) reck­ons Rodgers is do­ing a good job but has his reser­va­tions about him mov­ing on.

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