Belfast Telegraph

Brendan Rodgers eyeing Premier League return next season and relishing Pep Guardiola test

Brendan wants back in the hot seat

By Steven Beacom

Brendan Rodgers has revealed how much he is relishing the prospect of returning to Premier League management next season and going head to head with Manchester City bound Pep Guardiola.

It is understood the Carnlough native has turned down opportunities to become boss at Sunderland, Aston Villa and his old club Swansea since departing Liverpool in October. He has also said no to a mega-money deal in China, though with every passing day his determination to make a comeback increases.

The 43-year-old says he will be ready for action come the summer, distancing himself from the idea of replacing under-pressure Newcastle boss Steve McClaren for the remainder of this season.

Read more: Brendan Rodger's support for hospice is admirable gesture

Rodgers was in Belfast yesterday with fiancée Charlotte Hind to announce his new role as official Ambassador of Northern Ireland Hospice and Northern Ireland Children's Hospice.

The organisation is close to his heart having encountered first hand experience of hospice care for his family, when his father Malachy died of cancer in 2011. He called the Hospice workers his new team-mates.

In the next few months the former Swansea and Liverpool boss hopes to have a new team to manage, having enjoyed an extended break from the pressures of the job.

Read more: Ex-Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers honoured to support NI Hospice 'angels' who looked after dad

"I have taken time to reflect on my period at Liverpool, an incredible club, which I thoroughly enjoyed," he said.

"Hopefully, when I go into my next job, I will be all the better for the rest and for the reflection.

"I want to work, I am relatively young as a manager at 43. I will go in with a real hunger and desire to do well."

This season's Premier League has been one of the most exciting in history, but that has not stopped conversations about what it will be like next term, by which time the revered Guardiola will have left Bayern Munich for Manchester City.

Read more: Northern Ireland's Michael O'Neill can be Premier League boss: Brendan Rodgers

Rodgers has studied the work of Guardiola in great detail and is drawn to what the Spaniard achieved at Barcelona and how he did it.

The Northern Ireland man is keen to get the chance to take him on when he replaces Manuel Pellegrini.

"It's always great to pit your wits against the best players, coaches and managers," said Rodgers.

"And Pep has a wonderful record. He was able to work at Barcelona which is a huge club and he had a wonderful record there. He took over a group at Bayern Munich who were successful, so coming into the Premier League will be interesting for him.

"Certainly as a coach and manager you want to work against the best. Without doubt, Pep is one of the best."

Reflecting on his time in charge of Swansea and Liverpool, Rodgers added: "Going into the Premier League with Swansea I had a great few years.

"Obviously, the whole journey at Liverpool was remarkable really. Of course, like many managers' jobs it does not always end the way that you would want it to, but I would never want to take away any of the time I had there. We went very close to winning the title for the first time in 24 years and played a brand of football that people enjoyed.

"When I come back I'll be a better manager. The experiences make you better. You look at some managers in the Premier League who are 60-plus and they are better for all their experience. I am 43 now so hopefully by the time I get to that age I may be a good manager!" he adds, with a chuckle.

"My style of play will be the same. You develop and learn as a coach but I have always been one that is about a brand of football that is attacking and being creative, whilst having defensive organisation that is hard to beat. The philosophy will be the same."

Rodgers labels being a Premier League boss as 'relentless' but insists it is what he craves, stating he has another 20 years of management left in him which could mean "another six or seven jobs. That's the reality."

Rodgers will run a relay leg of the Belfast Marathon in May to raise funds as part of his Ambassador's role for the NI Hospice. He will take his new position as seriously as his work in football.

He says: "I am very privileged to work in a professional life that gives me great rewards, but the best thing in life is if you can do something for someone else and help and ultimately that's how you would like to be remembered as someone who could help other people. This type of environment is very difficult for people, with children and adults in the latter stages of life. If you can affect that and help them with love and support then that would mean much more to me than winning 10 titles."

Belfast Telegraph


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