Brendan Rodgers appointment signals new direction for Leicester

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NEW ERA

After weeks of pressure and speculation, Claude Puel’s time at Leicester City finally came to an end at the weekend in the aftermath of their heavy 4-1 defeat to Crystal Palace in the Premier League.

It was the Foxes’ seventh defeat in nine games and their fourth straight loss at the King Power Stadium, form which has seen the team slide down to 12th in the Premier League table ahead of tonight’s clash with Brighton.

In many ways Puel’s time at Leicester has ended in much the same way as his spell with Southampton, with supporters growing restless and ultimately bored of his team’s style of football. Leicester have scored just twice in their last four home games, despite having a number of quality attacking players in their side.

The Frenchman has overseen what has been one of the most difficult seasons in the club’s history following the death of chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and acted with class and dignity in the aftermath of the helicopter crash.

However, results on the pitch haven’t been good enough in recent times and it felt like only a matter of time before Puel would be relieved of his duties.Celtic have given Brendan Rodgers permission to speak to Leicester about succeeding Puel at the King Power Stadium, despite the Scottish side being on course to win 10 straight league titles.

The timing of Rodgers’ decision to potentially leave mid-season has come as a real shock to many Celtic fans, many of whom are surprised at the fact he would swap Celtic for Leicester. The lure of the Premier League has proven to be too strong for the former Liverpool boss, who has been rebuilding his reputation north of the border.

Claude Puel

CHANGE OF STYLE

In moving from Puel to Rodgers, Leicester supporters can expect to see a far more entertaining brand of football than they have been accustomed to in recent months if Rodgers’ track record is anything to go by.

At Liverpool, his team played some of the finest attacking football that Anfield has seen in the Premier League era with the likes of Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho all flourishing in attack. They came as close as any Liverpool side to winning the Premier League title before the nightmares of Chelsea and Crystal Palace in the closing weeks.

Rodgers will encourage his team to pass the ball out from the back and build steady attacks, something which should suit the personnel they have in the squad, particularly Harry Maguire in defence. In Ben Chilwell and Ricardo Pereira he has two full-backs that love to bomb forward and one of the league’s most consistent goalkeepers in Kasper Schmeichel.

Given the quality in this Leicester team, there is no doubt that they have underachieved to this point of the season so far.

Rodgers has a reputation for improving individual players, particularly young players, through working with them on the training ground. He could well prove to be a huge beneficiary for James Maddison, Harvey Barnes and Demarai Gray and has a track record for helping take attacking players to the next level.

James Forrest, Tom Rogic and Callum McGregor have all vastly improved under Rodgers’ tutelage at Celtic, with both he and his coaching staff playing a key role in their development over recent years.

With technically gifted players like Maddison, Gray and Youri Tielemans in their squad, playing in the pragmatic way Puel encouraged doesn’t play to their strengths. Don’t forget the fact they have a striker capable of reaching double figures each season in Jamie Vardy, too.

This is a squad that should be playing on the front foot, getting the most out of their attacking players who have the ability within to win games for the team.

That is likely what the appointment of Rodgers was inspired to bring, with Leicester fans eager to see their team play more expansively.

Brendan Rodgers Celtic

IS NOW THE RIGHT TIME TO MOVE?

Many have questioned the timing of Rodgers’ decision, with Celtic on track to win an eighth straight Scottish Premiership title this season after opening an eight-point gap between themselves and second-placed Rangers.

They are also on for the treble for a third straight season after already winning the League Cup earlier this season and are favourites to win the FA Cup, also.

As impressive as Celtic’s dominance has been, there comes a stage where a new challenge is needed and now does feel like a good time for Rodgers to return to the Premier League. Before this season, Celtic had very little resistance to sweeping up the full collection of trophies available in Scotland and Rodgers is ultimately at the stage of his career where he needs something new to strive for.

He is an ambitious manager and will be targeting a return to a top-six job in the Premier League at some stage, something he was unlikely to walk into if he continued to stroll to titles in Scotland year in, year out.

From that perspective it's a bold move for him, as he swaps title challenging in one country to trying to finish seventh and sneak a place in Europe in another. If the risk pays off, he could well land himself a job at one of the top clubs in England should he impress much in the way he was able to at Swansea City.

Rodgers could also do far worse than inherit a squad that features names such as Schmeichel, Maguire, Chilwell, Maddison, Gray and Vardy to name a few.

Leicester are ready to be competitive in the Premier League and have everything in place to be ‘the best of the rest’ outside of the top six. The task for Rodgers now is to unlock that potential.

James Maddison Leicester

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