That Chelsea lost the FA Cup final to Liecester City yesterday is really painful, that is if you are an ardent Chelsea supporter like me. While I can argue that Chelsea did not deserve to lose that match, very few can question Liecester City’s entitlement to the grail. Neither can anyone contest Brendan Rodgers’ license to win the oldest national football competition in the world.
Brendan Rogers is not just a coach. He is an incredibly good football manager, rating among the best British managers this century. He has had relative success at English, Scottish and Welsh clubs.
Right from the outset when he launched his managerial career in 2008, Brendan has proven to be a very ambitious gaffer. But in spite of having remarkable impact on English football with teams like Watford, Reading, Swansea City and Liverpool, the Northern Irish never had a major English trophy to compliment his CV.
But the wait for a league conquest would finally end when he became manager of Scottish side Celtic in May 2016, and led “The Bhoys” to an undefeated domestic season in his first year, and trebles in both of his first two seasons.
It was either the lure of the world’s most glamorous league or a point to prove, or both, that saw Brendan Rogers return to the English Premier League in February 2019, to manage Liecester City following the sacking of Claude Puel.
The work the Northern Irish has done at Liecester is amazing, even though the Foxes frustratingly slipped out of the Champions League qualifying places last season. He is no doubt a player’s manager. Speaking ahead of Liecester’s FA Cup final tie against Chelsea, former Leicester defender Danny Simpson said “Elite Brendan Rodgers could manage anyone”. That sounded axiomatic.
Under Brendan, Liecester City have become one of the most consistent in the league. They have become more comfortable on the ball, with the players playing with so much freedom and confidence. Players like Harvey Barnes, James Maddison, Caglar Soyuncu, Youri Tielemans (Chelsea’s kill-joy in yesterday’s cup final) and others have been developed into better players, ranking with the best in the division. Our own Kelechi “Senior Man” Iheanacho is a clear example: he has scored 18 goals in all competitions this season:15 in his last 17 games.
The club’s stats under BR have been impressive. Across 76 Premier League matches, they have racked up the third-highest number of points, more than Manchester United, Spurs, and Arsenal, and the same as Chelsea.
Brendan Rogers has without doubt always been a top coach. The FA cup trophy will only boost his reputation as one of the best managers in English football. He deserves it, and no one should begrudge him that. Not even me, with the bluest of bloods running deep in my vein. He is a coach I have always admired and respected. Not necessarily because of his affiliation to Chelsea (as Chelsea youth coach and reserve team manager between 2004 and 2008). But purely on the strength of his managerial competence and achievements. It would however, not surprise me if I found him in the Chelsea dugout someday in the future. Let’s hope he has an “unfinished business” at SW6.
As for my darling Chelsea club, we are still in the running for some silverware this season when we take on Manchester City in the Champions League final on May 29. It is now the only opportunity we have to make any meaning of what has been a remarkable second half of the season under Thomas Tuchel. To the Chelsea faithful, only a victory over our high-flying English rivals, already crowned league champions (a remarkable third title success in the last four campaigns), for our second European Champions League prize, will be sufficient enough consolation and adequate compensation for our FA Cup loss to Liecester City.
Congratulations Liecester City!
Congratulations Brenda Rogers!
Babs Daramola writes from Lagos.