Brendan Rodgers (born 26 January 1973) is a Northern Irish football coach and former player who most recently was the manager of Premier League club Liverpool.
Rodgers began his career as a defender at Ballymena United, where he stayed until he was signed by Reading at the age of 18, although a genetic knee condition forced him to retire at the age of 20. He remained at Reading as a coach and then Academy Director, and continued to play non-league football at Newport, Witney Town and Newbury Town for several years. After a period travelling around Spain to study coaching methods, he was invited by Jose Mourinho to leave Reading and join Chelsea as youth manager in 2004, later being promoted to reserve manager in 2006.
In 2008 he was appointed manager of Watford, where he remained until accepting an offer to become manager of his former club Reading in 2009. He left the club by mutual consent after disappointing results six months later, returning to full-time management with Swansea City in 2010. He led the club to win promotion to the Premier League, the first Welsh team ever to do so, before guiding them to finish 11th the following season. On 1 June 2012, Rodgers accepted an offer to become the new manager of Liverpool, whom he led to runners-up position in the league in the 2013–14 season before his dismissal in October 2015. His son, Anton, currently plays for Swindon Town.
Rodgers was born in the seaside village of Carnlough in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. His father Malachy was a painter and decorator, while his mother Christina was a volunteer for the Irish charity, Trocaire. Brendan is the eldest of five boys. His younger brother Malachy became a well-known country and western singer locally and is now pursuing a career in Nashville. He grew up as a supporter of Sheffield Wednesday.
Brendan's father was a Catholic, while his mother was a Protestant. He attended the All Saints Catholic Primary School in Ballymena, and then moved on to St Patrick's College in the town until the age of 16. "The fact that one [of his parents] was Catholic and one was Protestant didn't play any real part in their lives, they never let the whole religious thing have an impact on Brendan and his brothers" explained his cousin Nigel Worthington, the former manager of York City, and former Northern Ireland manager. In 2010, Christina died at the age of 53, and in September 2011 Brendan was by his father's side when he lost his battle with cancer, aged 59.
As a teenager, Rodgers represented Northern Ireland at schoolboy level, notably playing against Brazil in 1988. He also represented the Republic of Ireland at schoolboy level. He began his senior career as a defender for Ballymena United, his local team, in 1987. He was signed by Reading three years later at the age of 18, where he played in the reserves. His professional playing career was ended at the age of 20 due to a genetic knee condition. Following this enforced retirement, Rodgers spent several years playing in non-league football for Newport, Witney Town and Newbury Town, while remaining as a youth coach at Reading. Rodgers spent a large amount of time travelling around Spain studying different coaching methods, and was eventually invited by manager Jose Mourinho to leave his role of Academy Director at Reading and join the Chelsea Academy as their head youth coach in 2004 after a recommendation by Mourinho's assistant and future Premiership manager Steve Clarke. He was promoted to reserve team manager two years later, and was kept in that position by subsequent Chelsea managers Avram Grant and Luiz Felipe Scolari.
On 24 November 2008, Rodgers left Chelsea in order to become the manager of Championship side Watford. Rodgers won only two of his first ten league games as manager, leaving Watford in the relegation zone by January. Watford's form dramatically improved however, and Rodgers was able to guide them to finish 13th, avoiding relegation.
Weeks after guaranteeing Watford's survival, and following the resignation of Steve Coppell as Reading manager, Rodgers quickly became the favourite to succeed him and rejoin his old club. He initially distanced himself from reports linking him with the job, saying that his "concentration (is) fully on Watford". However, he eventually agreed a deal to become the new manager of Reading on 5 June 2009, after a compensation package worth an initial £500,000 with Watford was agreed, which later rose to £1 million. The Watford Supporters' Trust stated that Rodgers' reputation was "severely damaged" in the eyes of the supporters as a result of the move, but they nevertheless "thanked (Rodgers) for his efforts last season" and "(wished) him well for the future". On 11 August, Rodgers got his first win as Reading manager with a 5–1 win over League Two side Burton Albion in the first round of the League Cup. Despite a good start in the league, a disappointing string of results followed, and Rodgers left Reading by mutual consent on 16 December, just over six months after his arrival, with Reading one place above relegation in the Championship.
Rodgers accepted an offer to become the manager of Championship side Swansea City on 16 July 2010. Prior to this appointment, he had had talks with regard to joining the coaching staff at Manchester City under manager Roberto Mancini. His beginning as Swansea manager was very successful, leading to Rodgers being awarded the Championship Manager of the Month Award for February 2011 after Swansea won five out of the six league games they played that month, while keeping four clean sheets. By 25 April 2011, Rodgers had managed to comfortably secure Swansea City's place in the 2011 Championship Play-Offs for promotion into the Premier League, with a convincing 4–1 victory over Ipswich Town at the Liberty Stadium.
On 16 May 2011, Rodgers led Swansea to the 2011 Football League Championship Play-Off Final after defeating favourites Nottingham Forest over two legs in the semi-final. He faced his old club Reading in the final at Wembley Stadium on 30 May 2011, which Swansea won 4–2 thanks in part to a hat-trick from Scott Sinclair, meaning Swansea became the first Welsh team ever to gain promotion to the Premier League. Rodgers was praised by the media and supporters for consoling Reading manager Brian McDermott and owner John Madejski before receiving the trophy.
Rodgers' first win as a Premier League manager came on 17 September 2011, when Swansea beat West Bromwich Albion 3–0 at the Liberty Stadium. Despite many predicting before the season began that Swansea were favourites to be relegated, their debut season proved very impressive, as they picked up points against Liverpool, Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea, keeping them well above the relegation zone. In January 2012, Swansea claimed their first away win of the season at Aston Villa, a month which also saw them beat Arsenal 3–2 at home and hold Chelsea to a 1–1 draw. This saw Rodgers earn his first Premier League Manager of the Month Award. In February, Rodgers signed a new three-and-a-half-year contract to keep him at the club until July 2015.
On 1 June 2012, Rodgers was unveiled as the new Liverpool manager on a three-year contract, following the departure of Kenny Dalglish two weeks previously. Rodgers' appointment was immediately endorsed by former colleague and Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho. In July 2012, Rodgers wrote an open letter to the Swansea City supporters, thanking both the staff and supporters for his time at the club, and wishing them well for the future. Days later, Rodgers held his first training session at Melwood as the squad reported back for pre-season training.
On 2 August 2012, Rodgers oversaw his first competitive game as Liverpool manager, a 1–0 win in the UEFA Europa League against FC Gomel, and won his first home game in charge in the second leg one week later. In his first league game as manager on 18 August, Liverpool lost 3–0 against West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns. His first win in the league came against Norwich at Carrow Road, Liverpool winning 5–2. On 31 October, Rodgers welcomed his former club Swansea to Anfield in the fourth round of the League Cup, a match Liverpool lost 3–1. On 6 December, Liverpool defeated Udinese 1–0 away in the Europa League to qualify for the last thirty-two as group winners.
On 27 January 2013, Liverpool were knocked out of the FA Cup in the fourth round, surprisingly losing 3–2 to League One team Oldham Athletic. Liverpool finished in seventh position in the Premier League in his first season in charge, one position higher than the previous season.
At the start of the 2013–14 season, Rodgers was named the Premier League Manager of the Month for August 2013 as Liverpool won their first three league games of the season. In January 2014, he was fined £8,000 after making comments about referee Lee Mason after a 2–1 loss to Manchester City in December 2013. He was later named Manager of the Month for the second time that season for March 2014, after Liverpool won all five of their games that month to go top of the Premier League.
A run of eleven wins in a row for Liverpool came to an end after a 2–0 loss to Chelsea on 27 April. This result handed the advantage to Manchester City in the title race. In their next game away to Crystal Palace on 5 May, Liverpool led 3–0 with eleven minutes to go, but the game finished 3–3.
Liverpool ended the league season in second place with 101 goals scored, the club's most since the 1895–96 season and the third-highest in Premier League history. Later that month Rodgers was awarded the LMA Manager of The Year Award becoming the first Liverpool manager to win the prestigious accolade in its 20-year history.
On 26 May 2014, Rodgers signed a new four-year contract at Liverpool.
Liverpool were eliminated from the 2014–15 UEFA Champions League after drawing against FC Basel in their final group match, dropping into the Europa League. The Reds were subsequently knocked out in the Europa League round of 32 after losing 4–5 on penalties to Turkish side Besiktas. On 19 April 2015, Liverpool were defeated by Aston Villa in the FA Cup semi-final. Liverpool finished the season with a 6-1 defeat to Stoke, ending up 6th in the Premier League. This meant Rodgers became the first Liverpool manager since the 1950s not to win a trophy after three seasons in charge. Despite this, Rodgers fully received the backing of Liverpool's owners.
On 4 October 2015, Liverpool played their 225th Merseyside Derby against Everton with the game ending again in a 1-1 draw. This was the fifth time in Liverpool's previous six games that they had taken a 1–0 lead, then to have the game end in a 1–1 draw; while they had just one win in their previous nine games. Just one hour after the game, Rodgers was sacked, leaving Liverpool in tenth place after eight games. Later it became known that the decision to sack him had already been made prior to the match against Everton. The following day Rodgers released a statement through the League Managers Association stating, "I am, of course, incredibly disappointed to be leaving ... (but) it has been both an honour and a privilege to manage one of the game’s great clubs."
Rodgers believes in his teams keeping possession of the ball and playing a flowing passing game with the ball always moving; defensively, he likes his team to put a lot of pressure on the opposing team.
His Liverpool team during the 2013–14 season interchanged from 4–5–1 to 3–5–2 to 4–4–2 to 4–3–3 to a diamond formation. Steven Gerrard described Rodgers' one-on-one management as the best he has seen.
Rodgers separated from his wife Susan in the summer of 2014. The couple have two children, a son, Anton, who plays as a midfielder for Swindon Town, and a daughter, Mischa.
In June 2011, Rodgers joined a team representing The Football League to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care in honour of his mother – who died in 2010 – and his father – who died of cancer in 2011. In June 2014 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree by the University of Ulster.
Rodgers speaks Spanish and Italian. His nickname is "Buck Rodgers", after the comic strip character Buck Rogers.As of 4 October 2015
Swansea CityFootball League Championship play-offs: 2010–11
LMA Manager of the Year (1): 2013–14
Premier League Manager of the Month (3): January 2012, August 2013, March 2014
Football League Championship Manager of the Month (1): February 2011