Brendan Rodgers should have never been allowed to leave Chelsea. The Swansea City manager (and former Blues assistant) was beaming with delight as he assessed his team’s performance in Saturday’s scoreless draw at Liverpool, according to the Daily Mirror.
“It was fantastic. I felt we were equipped to come to a big team and put in a big performance,” Rodgers said.
“Today was a chance to show we have now grown into the league. We started very well but to put in a performance like that at a big club with top players fills me with great pride.”
The 38-year-old Northern Ireland native has his newly-promoted Swans sitting comfortably in 10th place after 11 league games. They are a formidable team at home, winning three of five games at Liberty Stadium (drawing the other two) and boasting a goal differential of eight for and one against.
Swansea’s spotty road form is a better reflection of its newcomer status, but Saturday’s performance at Anfield will make many take notice of the good work Rodgers is doing in Wales. The Swans were the better team for much of the second half and would have likely beaten Liverpool if Mark Gower converted his 84th minute chance.
Newly-promoted teams often have fast starts to their seasons only to implode as the weather cools. But there is something different about Swansea City. Its ability to maintain possession, methodically build attacks and open up opposing defenses is nothing short of a breath of fresh air in the English Premier League.
Rodgers’ team is not chock full of household names either. Wayne Routledge and Nathan Dyer are arguably the most recognizable names on the team sheet. How Rodgers has a team full of nobodies — for lack of a better word — playing such positive soccer is one of the biggest questions of the season.
His road to this point may shed some light on the answer. Injuries ended his playing career at age 20, before he played a single league game. He started his coaching career with a 10-year apprenticeship as youth team manager at Reading.
He left Reading in 2004 for a four-year stint at Chelsea. There, he worked under current Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho, first as a youth team manager for two years, then spent two more as reserve team manger. It’s safe to call him a Mourninho disciple.
“The Special One” (Mourinho) walked out on Chelsea in 2007 and Rodgers left a year later to take his first job as manager at Watford. His stay in London controversially lasted a little over sixth months before he took over for Steve Coppell at Reading.
His short-lived stay at the club for which he hoped to play only lasted six months. He was sacked after winning only six of 23 games.
Rodgers took over Swansea City in July 2010 and brought them up via the playoffs in his first year in charge, beating Reading in playoff final to earn EPL promotion.
Mourinho is known for backing his players to the extremes. They repay him by giving more than their all when they take the field. Rodgers’ postgame comments had a hint of his world-famous teacher in them.
“I thought we were outstanding.” He said. “We got a bit of fortune early on but you need that but I don’t think there was anything lucky about the result or the performance.”
“I think my players deserve every plaudit they get from the game. Collectively as a team they were outstanding.”
Rodgers has done great work at Swansea City and we can only hope Chelsea supremo Roman Abromavich has taken notice of the one that got away.