Jamie Carragher: Brendan Rodgers can be prize guy
Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher has praised Brendan Rodgers for reviving the fortunes of the club and feels the next step is for the Ulsterman to bring trophies to Anfield. Carragher, whose Soccer School is coming to Belfast later this month, is relishing the start of the new Premier League season – which kicks off tomorrow with the Reds hosting Southampton on Sunday – and feels Liverpool, having finished second behind Manchester City in the title race last term, can be amongst the challengers once again.
It's all a far cry from when Rodgers took over the Reds in the summer of 2012 when weeks earlier they had ended the campaign in eighth place.
In his first season in charge the man from Carnlough suffered some criticism as the team struggled early on in his reign, only to show signs of the football to come in the latter part of the campaign to finish seventh.
Then last season everything clicked into place with Liverpool playing stunning, attacking football taking the battle for Premier League glory down to the wire until City pipped them to the post.
The Merseyside outfit had the world class Luis Suarez then of course. He has moved on to Barcelona and the Reds are sure to miss him, but Carragher feels the influence of Rodgers can be a telling factor as the Anfield outfit attempt to build on what they have achieved in the last 12 months.
"Brendan is an example to other coaches of what can be achieved if you haven't had a successful playing career," Carragher told the Belfast Telegraph.
"When his playing career finished early he went into coaching and you could say he got a head start because he began at such an early age, but not everyone could have done what he did and been such a success.
"It's a great story considering how he started out to where he is now. The next step for Brendan is to bring trophies to Anfield.
"If you asked me at the start of last season what I thought Liverpool were realistically capable of in the next few years I would have said regularly challenging and qualifying for a Champions League place.
"Now I would say under Brendan Rodgers they can be challenging to become champions.
"I think it is realistic to believe that they will be up there again this season and the manager deserves a lot of credit for that.
"The players of course deserve praise too for what they achieved in the last year but it is Brendan who has led the way."
Carragher, as highly rated for his punditry on Sky Sports these days as he was for his defensive abilities on the pitch, is coming to Brendan's home country shortly.
The respected Jamie Carragher Soccer School is running a course from August 21-23 at Stormont and the man himself will join coaches to impart some of his own wisdom to youngsters.
"The kids will be coached by very good coaches," said the former England star.
"The standard of the coaching will be high and of course we would love to find great young players at the Soccer School, but it is open to all because the most important thing we want is for the boys and girls to really enjoy it.
"We want them to go away with smiles on their faces having had a good time.
"I'm going to come across to Belfast and meet all the kids at the Soccer School and it's brilliant that the Happy Children foundation in Northern Ireland is linking up with my own 23 Foundation.
"That's one of the reasons why we are coming over and another is because Liverpool has such massive support in Northern Ireland and it is great to build up relationships and connections.
"We want to see loads of kids at the Soccer School and if we can unearth a special talent who could help the Northern Ireland team in the future, that will be great.
"I'm really looking forward to coming over because the people in Northern Ireland love their football and it's always good fun seeing the kids enjoy themselves."