Brendan Rodgers traveled to Belfast this week to attend the draw for the 2013 Northern Ireland Milk Cup — and he took time out to conduct an interview with BBC Northern Ireland.
The manager was quizzed about his first 11 months in charge at Anfield, his focus on developing young players and Liverpool’s transfer aims for the summer.
Rodgers also spoke about his early career and how he learned from Jose Mourinho during his time at Chelsea. We’ve transcribed some of the best bits of the interview for you to scan through below.
Rodgers on his Anfield career so far:
It’s been such a great challenge. It’s a privilege to manage such a great club. In football, you’re going to have good days and bad days and I’ve been really pleased by some of the progress that we have made. The supporters have been absolutely incredible. Football really is a way of life for them and as a manager you understand that and you fight for them. I really hope that the future can be bright for us because I see a lot of good things going on at the club.
On summer transfers:
It will be our job in the summer to add more quality to the squad. The owners have been absolutely great from day one, ever since I met them. They are trying to put something in place that is going to be sustainable. We know that at the top end [of the table] you have to spend money, but we won’t have the resources that other clubs have. So we’re trying to build our way there. A lot of our work is going to be in terms of our coaching and making the players better. We know that we need to have some experience in there as well and that hopefully can help project us forward again.
On finishing in the top four next season:
It’s a difficult ask. Look at Tottenham — they finished in the top four last year and spent a lot of money to try and retain their place in there. Chelsea, who were the [UEFA] Champions League winners, finished sixth last season. So for us it’s a huge ask. But it’s our goal and it’s where we want to go. We want to keep growing and we want to look to win trophies. Next year the important factor is getting consistency in the league in order to move up the table and challenge for the top-four positions. If we can do that, then that will keep us pushing on.
On developing young players:
This season, Raheem Sterling played against Manchester City when he was just 17 years of age. He could even play for our youth team next year — that’s how young he is. But to go from being a youth player to making his full international debut for England is a great credit to him. He knows he’s got a lot of hard work ahead. Andre Wisdom has played a number of games this season; Jonjo Shelvey is still only very young. Boys like Suso have played as well. Youth will be a very important part in our growth as a club and I’ll always look for young players. But you have to have the balance and that’s important.
On learning from Jose Mourinho:
When I worked with Jose I had a great experience. He put a lot of trust in me as a young coach to work with top players. He encouraged me and gave me that belief that I could go on and become a manager. But until you actually step out there [into management], it’s a different ball game altogether. I’ve been very fortunate to have worked with some fantastic people in football. Alan Pardew, whose side we faced at the weekend, is a friend of mine. He was manager at Reading when I was there and I learned things from Alan. One of my strengths is I learn and I like to learn from all sorts of people in all walks of life. I try to implement my own ways of making teams successful.