Belfast Telegraph

Monk talks up Real deal Rodgers

Swansea manager Garry Monk feels his former boss Brendan Rodgers is capable of managing Barcelona or Real Madrid one day.

Monk crosses swords again with Rodgers at the Liberty Stadium on Monday night having lost all three of his previous meetings with the Liverpool manager and the Northern Irishman's stock at Anfield is rising rapidly again.

Liverpool have gone 12 games unbeaten in the Barclays Premier League as they close in on a top-four spot which would secure Champions League qualification for the second successive year after almost ending the club's 24-year wait for the title last season.

It is a far cry from the autumn when Liverpool were struggling to emerge from the post-Luis Suarez era at a time when Daniel Sturridge was injured and they lost four successive games in both league and cup.

But the upturn in their fortunes has led to reports that Manchester City are making admiring glances towards Merseyside and, asked if Rodgers was equipped to manage Barcelona or Real sometime in the future, Monk replied: "Yes, he can manage at the top, for sure.

"He's got the knowledge, know-how and capabilities in man-management. He's got the package to do it at the elite of Europe.

"Whether that's an ambition he has at Liverpool or it is an ambition to be at the really elite I don't know.

"But I'm sure he wants to take Liverpool to those heights again."

Rodgers admitted earlier this month that he feared the sack at Liverpool prior to changing the formation to three at the back which sparked their climb up the table.

But Monk, club captain at Swansea when Rodgers steered the Welsh club into the Premier League in 2011 via the Championship play-offs, says that would have been a foolish move and applauds his courage to change a system which had proved so successful last season.

"I've spoken to him about it and the pressure at the bigger clubs is constant but I think he handles it very well," said Monk, who remains in regular contact with Rodgers.

"Transition's never easy, especially after a fantastic season, and just missing out on that title will have knocked the confidence of the players initially.

"It takes time to get that confidence back but he's done that and he also had quite an influx of players in the summer.

" All credit to Brendan for having the bravery to change it to what players probably weren't used to. He did it at a period where it could have been a risk but it's paid dividends."

Liverpool's renaissance has taken them to within two points of fourth-placed Manchester United and Monk feels they will improve still further if they qualify for the Champions League again.

"I know he was disappointed with the Champions League this season but if they can push on and get in there again I think they'll do better next year," Monk said.

"He's evolving as a manager and he's obviously more confident in his own ability than when he was at Swansea.

"That comes with going to a big club, being on a big stage and performing there."

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