(fashion) It is fascinating to watch Frank Lampard and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer trying to reshape Chelsea and Manchester United, but the most notable act of evolution in the Premier League is taking place at Leicester under Brendan Rodgers.
Leicester’s 2016 title success under Claudio Ranieri remains a great story. But when Leicester hired Rodgers from Celtic last February, his brief was to improve the watchability of the football. It is a box being ticked.
Leicester are third in the table and the lasting impression of my season so far is of Rodgers’ team holding their own in terms of possession and chances in drawing at Chelsea two weeks ago.
Leicester are performing well this season thanks to the happy Brendan Rodgers
Jamie Vardy scored a double in their win over Bournemouth, and they're happy with the ball
It takes courage to play like that away at a big club but it also takes the right players and coach. And the players recruited and pushed through from the Leicester academy indicate that the club are determined to give their manager ammunition to play the same intense, clever football we saw from Rodgers at Swansea and Liverpool.
From the system have emerged Harvey Barnes and Hamza Choudhury. The latter has some kinks to iron out but he is seriously gifted. The talented Belgian Youri Tielemans was signed from Monaco and the nimble Ayoze Perez nicked from Newcastle.
Arguably the best of the lot is James Maddison, who was signed pre-Rodgers in the summer of 2018.
There is evidence of clear strategy here, of vision. Leicester drifted after they correctly sacked Ranieri. The players wanted and got his assistant Craig Shakespeare and that didn’t work. They didn’t want Claude Puel and that didn’t work either.
But the hiring of Rodgers was different. It was a statement of intent and purpose.
James Maddison is arguably the best of the lot at Leicester, signed before Rodgers arrived
Rodgers sat at a League Managers Association function eight years ago and dreamed of clocking up 1,000 games like others in the room. At the age of 46, he is halfway there and these feel very much like the pivotal years of his career. He may not admit it but he has a point to prove and that is never a bad thing.
Some managers behave like they are passing through and they usually are.
Rodgers, conversely, treats every posting like some kind of calling and, though he can occasionally lay it on a little thick, his football usually reflects that intensity of thought. Rodgers sets the tone at a club. One Leicester source tells me he is the ‘only person I have met in football who is always in a good mood’. It is easy to believe.
Settled in the Leicestershire countryside, Rodgers is enjoying the peace after the madness of Glasgow. At work, he has the influential dressing-room cabal of Jamie Vardy,