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Liverpool chief: Brendan Rodgers will shine at Celtic

By Steven Beacom

Brendan Rodgers will achieve "great things in football" and be a success as manager of Celtic, according to the man who played a role in the Ulsterman's sacking at Liverpool.

In an exclusive interview with the Belfast Telegraph, Liverpool Chief Executive Ian Ayre, who will attend today's Ulster Grand Prix, spoke about the club's owners, a new look Anfield, new signings, the new season, current boss Jurgen Klopp and his predecessor Rodgers.

In October last year, Rodgers departed Liverpool with Ayre explaining the decision in person to the Carnlough native after the decision had been made by Fenway Sports Group.

The pair had a good working relationship and remain in touch.

"Brendan is a great man. I enjoyed working with him and sent him a couple of messages when he got the job at Celtic which I think is a great opportunity for him. I'm sure he will do well there," said Ayre.

"At Liverpool Brendan had a really good go and I'm confident he will go on and do great things elsewhere in football and we really wish him well.

"He is a good young manager and did a good job for Liverpool. Managers come and go at every football club and Brendan is a part of Liverpool's history now and that is right and proper."

Klopp replaced Rodgers at Anfield and after reaching the League Cup and Europa League finals last term, Ayre believes there is much ground for optimism for Liverpool fans ahead of the German’s first full campaign in charge, which begins tomorrow away to Arsenal in the Premier League.

“When you change managers mid-season as we did last October it will always be tough but on balance we felt we had a good performance overall,” said Ayre.

“Jurgen always said we would use this summer to consolidate a little more. I think we have made good signings and Jurgen is happy with the work we have done together.

“We are in good shape. If our squad is fit and our players are available I think we will take on anyone. We have a tough start with three away games and Arsenal on Sunday but it is a long season and we’ll have to judge it further down the road.

“The expectations are what you would expect for Liverpool which are to try and get into the top four and qualify for the Champions League and get the best we can out of the squad we have assembled.

“We’ve a great group, a great manager, great coaching staff and a great team throughout the club so our fans can be optimistic about the new season.”

Under Rodgers in 2014, Liverpool almost won the title for the first time since 1990.

Asked when he thought the wait would end, Ayre said: “For people like me who have been supporting Liverpool since the late ‘60s we know what it was like for Liverpool to be the team that won every year. I think that has gone away now for everybody.

“I don’t think it is possible for a team to dominate completely in this league which makes for great football and great viewing.

“What I can tell you is that this manager, these players, these owners and this football club are hugely committed to achieving that. It has been a long time since we won the league and when we go to work every day this season and every season it will be with that goal in mind.”

There is a sense that Ayre feels if anyone can bring the title to Liverpool it will be the charismatic Klopp.

“It is a special club with a special type of feeling about it. Jurgen fits that. He has the right personality for our club and you can tell that Liverpool fans have warmed to him very quickly,” added Ayre.

Already the German has made several summer signings, the most notable being striker Sadio Mane arriving from Southampton for £30m.

Quizzed on whether there would be any more, Ayre told the Belfast Telegraph: “I don’t think so. We have done most of the work we expected to do.

“It always depends on who becomes available and opportunities that present themselves. Football is a strange old game and in the last couple of weeks of the transfer window anything is possible, but at this stage Jurgen is just focusing on the group he has now and putting the best team out against Arsenal.” 

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