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The MOTY Race: is Brendan Rodgers Underrated?

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Nearly did it with Liverpool, getting closer with Leicester

Following Leicester City’s 2-0 win over Chelsea, Paul Merson was quick to heap praise onto the Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers. Merson claimed that neither Pep Guardiola or Jurgen Klopp could achieve what Rodgers is currently doing with the Foxes as they sit just two points off the top with a significantly tighter budget and very specific transfer patterns.

While much of the title talk has been about the Manchester clubs and Liverpool, Leicester have found themselves very much in the mix and look just as well equipped for a title charge than the reigning champions at this moment and are certainly in better form.

Having built a squad that are now third favourites for the title at 20/1, just how good is Brendan Rodgers and are we once again underrating this man?

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Leicester to get 75+ points @ 7/2

Isn't the praise for Rodgers overdue?

Throughout his previous three jobs, Rodgers has achieved an exceptional amount of success. He won the Championship play-offs with Swansea City and managed to keep them in the top flight throughout his time there, and was the only manager in history to achieve promotion to the Premier League with them.

The Welshman would leave Swansea and then lead Liverpool as close to a title as they had been in 25 years in 2013/14, and was exceptionally unfortunate to not snatch the trophy, with that famous Gerrard slip moment looked at as the definitive moment in the season, as City won by two points. However, when Rodgers left, he achieved something that no other Premier League manager did at Liverpool beforehand, and that was installing hope of a title at Anfield.

Soon after, Rodgers would be sacked by Liverpool after the club fell off the next season. The ex-Chelsea coach would then take over at Celtic and win back-to-back trebles with the club; this is the only time this has happened in British football history.

So, surely, with this potential title charge with Leicester, surely we now have to consider him a modern Premier League great and a man who is truly underrated.

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Harvey Barnes to score 15+ league goals @ 14/1

His Shrewd business is getting the 'Rodgers' treatment

Some of the transfers that Rodgers has brought to the club have been incredibly shrewd, with their young full-back James Justin being a prime example of that this season, joining from Luton Town for around £6m. Rodgers has also been behind the signings of Youri Tielemans (not the loan deal), Ayoze Perez, Dennis Praet and Wesley Fofana, all of which have had an impact, especially Tielemans, who has become one of the best midfielders in the Premier League. Leicester now boast one of the deepest and most balanced squads in the league, which was evident through a continued run of good form despite several first team players out injured.

“You don’t play for Brendan Rodgers if you don’t do the dirty work,” said the in-form James Maddison after putting on another masterclass for his side against Chelsea, which is something that has been evident throughout his tenure at the club. In truth, Leicester very rarely get outworked by any team they face, with Jamie Vardy defending from the front and that translating throughout the whole team and his fantastic work rate is unrivalled by almost any central striker in the league.

A midfield of Maddison, Tielemans and Wilfried Ndidi is arguably one of the most well-rounded trios in the league, with Maddison in particular hitting fantastic form in recent weeks, scoring six goals in his last eight games.

2015/16 not a too distant memory right now

The likelihood is that Leicester will not win the league this season, despite their brilliant first half to the campaign. But, the fact that they are even in the picture – currently four points ahead of Liverpool – is testament to the belief and desire that Rodgers has instilled in his side, similar to what he did for the Reds seven years ago. Right now, they are playing like a team that is fueled off the confidence built from Rodgers himself and they look like they believe they belong with the big teams and are gradually breaking up the idea of the ‘Big Six’.

They look almost nailed on for the top four currently, ahead of the likes of Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Arsenal, which is an achievement in itself, whilst they are potentially in a title race with the two Manchester clubs and the champions. And, in truth, mathematically, there can be no disputing that.

Rodgers must be considered one of the best coaches in the league for the transformation project he has built at Leicester and the bigger clubs will be impressed by their progress so far and we do have to start to talk about Rodgers as a genuine great in the Premier League these days.

By Luke Feather