Brendan Rodgers Exclusive Interview: Leicester City manager on transfers, targets and his toughest summer

Leicester City's Brendan Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers walks into the room, quickly adjusts the air conditioning and smiles as he sits down for his interview at the club’s training ground. Leicester are at the bottom of the table but there is a feeling that the season is starting now.

It has been the most difficult summer of his managerial career with players wanting to leave and no funds to bring in replacements. “It’s like walking into a store and walking out with no money,” he says Sky Sports. “You can’t buy anything.”

But before all that, he wants to clear up the comments that caused a bit of a media frenzy on Thursday evening after the defeat to Manchester United. Headlines suggesting he “hit the board” don’t reflect his true feelings.

“I always know there’s a twist to the words. I have a lot of respect for the board. There’s no way I’d ever have an idea to expose them. They’ve been honest enough to tell it like it is. Top notes have .clear as to the thinking behind the why of the situation.

Program Notes from Leicester President Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha

Firstly, Leicester City’s overall financial position is completely secure and is supported by my personal commitment and that of my family.

The club is as safe in our hands as it has been every day for the past 12 years. Our commitment to this responsibility is what drives every decision we make. Sometimes that commitment means making tough, short-term decisions that protect the club’s long-term interests, such as our approach to the transfer market this summer.

Due to an increase in our net spend over the past few seasons, some measures were necessary to ensure we manage compliance with the game’s sustainability regulations. While we continue to build our broader revenue streams to compete with the established elite over the long term, our short-term means of offsetting these expenses is to generate profits through player trading.

We did this successfully for five consecutive summer windows before 2021 where we chose to make further investment in the squad without a significant sale. This summer, we couldn’t risk further unbalancing that equation, so we decided that space would need to be made in the team before new additions could be brought on board.

“Obviously it’s been a very difficult market for us. But the bigger picture was the club. For me, it’s not a story of today. Now, it’s about everyone coming together. We bring the fight and we have this collective. common goal of winning games and being a team.”

Strange to see Leicester like this. The club were champions of England six years ago and their first FA Cup win was as recently as last year. The pause in spending means an adjustment for everyone: fans, players and the coach who came here to compete.

“Where we have been in the table in recent years is where I want to be a challenge. Everyone wants to keep pushing. But for that we have to improve our squad and we have not been able to do that. Of course, this will be difficult for the followers”.

In fact, fans accept it. There is nothing but gratitude to the owners who have given the best moments in the history of the club. Feelings towards Rodgers are more mixed. What does he say to those who point out that he still has a mid-table budget?

“I can only judge it by the squad I have and when I see the competitors it’s clear that a lot of our competitors have improved. This is a group that needed to improve and we haven’t been able to do that. But that doesn’t mean we’re not trying to find development.

“We wanted to challenge European football and we were able to do that and win trophies. But I’m realistic. I know what pieces are missing in our puzzle. It’s not a lack of ambition, it’s where we are. I have to find ways to improve.”

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Brendan Rodgers accepts the squad is weaker now than a year ago

Here, it’s a little more complicated than it might seem. Thirteen of the squad that basked in FA Cup glory at Wembley were also in the squad on Thursday night. But the circumstances are not the same. This is a game played with your legs and your mind, not on paper.

“Sometimes the best coach is the person who comes in to compete in your position. That will push you. Otherwise, if there is no competition, the players can get comfortable. No matter how much you demand things from them, they know that you cannot there’s nobody. just around the corner.”

There is a long breath as Rodgers is asked to reflect on the difficulties of the summer and discuss why everything might not be as it seems. He is willing to explain in some detail and his words reveal that the situation with Wesley Fofana was only part of the problem.

“If you think about it, from the beginning we had things around James Maddison and Harvey Barnes. Obviously you had Kasper [Schmeichel] immediately when he entered. You had the situation with Youri [Tielemans]. You had Cags [Soyuncu] in a year to finish.

“You also had a year in Daniel Amartey. Jonny Evans was a year away. Jamie Vardy hadn’t signed. Maybe Jannik Vestergaard was looking at moving on. So you had a number of players that that can affect. Then you have Ricardo’s injury [Pereira].

“There are 10 situations that affect the dynamics.

“And then you have the Wesley situation on top of that.

“What it does in the locker room is it creates doubt. The stability is affected without a new face to bring that life to it. It becomes a place where people look to move on. It becomes a distraction . You have to control it as best you can.”

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Brendan Rodgers says Wesley Fofana didn’t write the Instagram post criticizing him

Now the focus must be on finding a way through all of this. Leadership has been lost but has to come from somewhere else. “Leadership comes in many different forms. When we lost Wes Morgan we lost that figurehead. Now it has to be a combination of all of them.”

With Vardy turning 36 in January, some might have passed his prime. But there are others with more to give. “A few guys are still growing. James has stepped up. Harvey is getting better. Luke Thomas has come in and done really well, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall as well.”

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Brendan Rodgers says he can understand the frustration among supporters

There is the expectation that – with a World Cup in the spotlight – the others will refocus. “I think between now and November, it’s about a laser focus on our work now. It’s about us getting up and getting that table up. There are no distractions.

“It’s time to come together. That includes the fans because they need them now more than ever. They’ve had some incredible years, but that’s the reality of the situation. The players will feed off their energy and we want it to be that way . as positive as I can.”

But perhaps the most pertinent question is for Rodgers himself, a man who has been open about his own ambition. He came here to compete for trophies, to disrupt the natural order of things at the top of the table. Now, by his own admission, he’s aiming for 40 points.

The fear among fans is that he himself has grown tired of the situation. Just as he wanted to clarify those comments about the club’s financial constraints, he is adamant about the fact that he is here to accept the challenge. You can focus back on training.

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“I’m really excited about this challenge. It’s something I accept. The end of the season is a long way off and I haven’t set any targets, but we’re going for 40 points and then we’re looking to finish as high as we can. We’re doing well in cup competitions?That always excites us.

“Yes, there are pieces missing, but how can we still find the solutions? What’s the best dynamic for us as a team? In terms of the games, we’ve had a tough run with us having to play three of the top five or six. teams as we try to put our game back together.

“We’ve got to be better on the ball. Get that confidence back, that simplicity in our game, that creativity in our game. Also, you’ve got to be strong defensively. We’ve got to be a tough team to play against without the ball.

“With the start we’ve had, they won’t have confidence, but that’s the job: to galvanize them again and get them through this period. Now we draw a line. There’s a chance to be ourselves again. it’s about hard work and concentration.

“Now it’s all about the hard yards.”

Watch Brighton vs Leicester live on Sky Sports Premier League from 1pm on Sunday; start at 2pm.

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