Tuesday 7 January 2020 2:22 pm

Brendan Rodgers returned to England as a winner and has the skill set to lead Leicester to EFL cup glory

If one accusation can be thrown at Brendan Rodgers during his first stint in the Premier League it is that, while a good manager, he did not prove himself a winner.

After being sacked by Liverpool, following a campaign that saw him come as close as any Reds manager since 1990 had to winning the league, he moved north of the border to practise leading a side to glory.

Two and a half seasons at Celtic was all it took to become a serial winner, claiming seven major domestic trophies and sending them well on their way to two more – the treble treble – before returning to England almost a year ago.

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The transformation of Leicester under his stewardship has been one of the stories of this campaign, albeit overshadowed by his former club’s unstoppable charge toward a maiden Premier League title.

The Foxes sit second in the table and, but for Liverpool’s incredible run of 28 wins in 29 league games, would have been challenging for a second title in four seasons.

While the league now appears out of reach, they remain in the hunt for the FA Cup following the weekend’s 2-0 win against Wigan and, perhaps more realistically, the Carabao Cup, in which they host Aston Villa in the first leg of their semi-final tomorrow night.

A favourable draw

The football gods must be smiling on Rodgers, who has himself been accused of having a messiah complex, with Leicester avoiding what felt like an inevitable tie with Liverpool in the last four by virtue of Jurgen Klopp fielding a youth team against Villa in the previous round while the first team were on Club World Cup duty in Qatar. They lost 5-0.

Leicester are favourites to reach next month’s final, having already beaten Villa 4-1 this season, where they would face either Manchester City or Manchester United.

Leicester City v Arsenal FC - Premier League
Leicester are second in the league are fighting for the FA Cup and EFL Cup

And should they reach a major final at Wembley for the first time since 2000, it would seem unwise to write them off regardless of who they face given their domestic form and the winning mentality that Rodgers has instilled. The only thing missing now is another trophy.

A number of managers have used the League Cup to catapult their sides onto bigger achievements, not least Pep Guardiola, whose City side claimed the last two on their way to becoming English champions.

Leicester’s lofty ambitions


For Leicester, winning this competition would be a success in itself, with their only major trophy in the last two decades being that famous 2016 Premier League title.

Winning is a habit, one that Rodgers has inherited from his time with Celtic and so far successfully transferred to the Midlands.

In Scotland he won the Scottish equivalent in three successive seasons amid five domestic cups in total, claiming his first major silverware as a manager.

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The 46-year-old is now much more experienced than the man who had one Premier League campaign under his belt with Swansea before joining Liverpool.

To finish in the top four this season would have been an over-achievement for both him and Leicester in their first full campaign together. Claiming a domestic cup would be the icing on the cake.

Rodgers returned to England with winning pedigree. Tomorrow night he can take one step closer to proving that.

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