Clubs have, since time immemorial, tried to dress up sackings as moments of regret. But the boards that have to make those decisions are all out of sympathy and patience. “His place in Leicester City history is assured” is the official statement out of Leicester today which announces that Brendan Rodgers has left their club. Obviously, this is true.
Rodgers won the FA Cup there. The only FA Cup in their history. But before Rodgers there was O’Neill, who won a League Cup and who is a club icon. More important, by far, is this; Rodgers took over a floundering club which it just so happened were defending league champions. I never did understand what he thought he could achieve there.
The impossible had been done by the previous manager … and Claudio Ranieri, of course, had been sacked anyway. Rodgers traded immortality at Celtic and the eternal gratitude of our fans for an FA Cup and the inevitable sacking.
I know he couldn’t wait to get out of Celtic Park and away from what had become a toxic working relationship, but the manner in which he did it and the club he chose to go to, astounded Celtic fans and left bitterness behind him.
Few us wished him well at Leicester, and when on the day he won the cup final with them and he gave a preening, arrogant interview in which he talked about how he, personally, had won every cup final he’d competed for as manager you understood that this was a guy who believed he was the centre of the universe.
Now the media will link Ange to the same job, but Leicester are sitting just above the relegation zone right now and might very well drop down a division. The risks associated with going to a club like that are obvious in a league full of big money clubs.
Once again, success is going to become about the mere act of survival, and if it looks as if it’s not going to happen clubs like this will have no choice but to wield the axe because most are run on the basis that anything other than Premiership football is a disaster.
So why did Rodgers believe it was the right move? Was he arrogant enough to think he could repeat what Ranieri had done? Even he can’t have been that delusional. But standing on the turf at Wembley giving that staggeringly self-centred interview he must have thought that the gamble had paid off in spades. Surely, a bigger club would come in for him?
Because that’s what I’ve always thought was at the heart of it. The belief that Leicester itself was a mere stepping stone to something bigger. But clubs in England know all about Rodgers now and know that for all his quality it’s his shameless self-promotion and abysmal selfishness which best characterises his management style … and he always wants more.
The story was never going to have a happy ending, and although there will be a lot of talk about Spurs and other clubs offering Rodgers an opportunity to rebuild his reputation I think it will be a lot harder to do than he thinks.