What next for Brendan Rodgers after FA Cup win?
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Brendan Rodgers is believed to be the Manchester United board’s top choice to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer if the Norwegian is relieved of his duties and the Leicester boss’ tactical flexibility would suggest he could be the perfect fit for this distorted group of players. With Antonio Conte now unavailable following his appointment at Tottenham, the Red Devils have been left short of options if they were to pull the trigger on their former striker.
Zinedine Zidane is not interested in taking over at Old Trafford while Erik ten Hag remains committed to Ajax after signing a new contract earlier this summer following talks with Spurs.
While Rodgers is also tied down to a long-term deal at Leicester, there is optimism that United could prise him away from the King Power Stadium amid the suggestion he has a release clause in his contract that is only accessible to sides playing Champions League football.
In some quarters of United’s fanbase, Rodgers’ previous ties to Liverpool have left a bad taste in the mouth but it appears the board are willing to overlook his past to focus on his qualities.
And there is no getting away from the fact Rodgers is, without doubt, one of the most impressive, captivating managers in the Premier League right now.
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With the right support and recruitment, his Leicester side have gatecrashed the so-called ‘Big Six’ and their party at the top of the division, setting the benchmark for the rest of the Premier League.
Leicester secured back-to-back fifth-place finishes and although there was disappointment at the failure to secure Champions League football, Rodgers was able to deliver the FA Cup following a 1-0 victory over Chelsea at Wembley Stadium.
While he may not be a box-office name, his tactical nous and ability to get the best from his group of players makes him without doubt the most attractive option for United.
During Liverpool’s failed assault on the Premier League title in 2013/14, Rodgers’ side were operating with a diamond midfield stroke 4-3-3.
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The following season, he ripped up the script following the departure of Luis Suarez to Barcelona, switching to a 3-4-3.
And Rodgers has continued to flip between formations during his time at Leicester and their fluidity and comfortability to switch between a number of different systems is what has enabled them to compete.
Predominantly, Leicester have rolled out a 4-2-3-1 while also switching to a variation of 4-3-3 in recent weeks.
That would of course be expected to apply to Manchester United, whose current squad appears to be attack-heavy and stacked with wide players.
Rodgers is the perfect coach to maximise the team’s potential and his tactical understanding and expertise would stand him in great stead to find a winning formula while getting the best from the squad.
Furthermore, Rodgers’ Leicester have also been using the same 3-4-1-2 system that Solskjaer has turned to in recent weeks at Old Trafford.
Leicester look prepared to go toe-to-toe with any side when playing in that shape, something that was demonstrated when they dispatched United 4-2 at the King Power after the last international break.
Solskjaer was handed a coaching lesson from his opposite number, who made several tactical tweaks to turn the game around and ensure the Foxes took all three points.
Although Solskjaer deserves credit for changing the system and winning the most important game of his tenure to date against Tottenham after the 5-0 drubbing against Liverpool, he is clearly no tactical expert.
Rodgers, on the other hand, knows how to win games with his team selection and given the quality at United’s disposal, he could have a field day striking the perfect balance.
When Conte showed interest in the job, the Italian was said to believe United were just a few tactical tweaks away from competing with the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool.
Now, the Red Devils look a million miles away but Rodgers has the brains and IQ to turn a depleted squad that is low on confidence into something worth the sum of its parts.
He would be a worth upgrade on Solskjaer, a coach that has the capability of turning this clueless, confused United side into a team ready to challenge on all fronts.
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