Northern Ireland

Nigel Worthington backs Brendan Rodgers to be Liverpool success

Brendan Rodgers
Image caption It has been a long and emotional journey to Anfield for Brendan Rodgers

Former Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington has backed his cousin, Brendan Rodgers, to be a success as Liverpool Football Club's new manager.

The Carnlough man is poised to sign a three-year contract at Anfield.

Liverpool is expected to pay between £4m and £5m to Swansea in compensation for the County Antrim man's services.

"The style of football Brendan plays and the way he gets his players playing for him is absolutely fantastic," Worthington said.

"He's been a breath of fresh air for the Premiership in this last season."

Worthington, who managed Norwich in the Premiership, accepted there would be a lot of pressure on former Swansea boss Rodgers, especially since he would be replacing Anfield legend Kenny Dalglish.

"The owners have obviously taken to Brendan during the interview, so they're going to have to give him a chance and hopefully the supporters do too - it's not Brendan's fault that Kenny Dalglish has left the football club," he said.

"He's stepping into those shoes, he'll grab the challenge and relish the challenge and can hopefully take the club forward."

Former Liverpool and Republic of Ireland midfielder Ray Houghton said it was a great opportunity for Rodgers.

"Given time and given the tools to do the job properly he'll be very good," he said.

"This is Brendan's chance - he has to grasp it, he has to be boisterous about Liverpool.

"What he has to focus his attention on 100% is to get Liverpool into the top four, because that's where the owners want them to be.

"If he does that he'll be successful."

Long journey

Becoming manager of one of the biggest clubs in football may seem like a meteoric rise for the 39-year-old.

However, it has been a long and, at times, difficult journey for the Carnlough man.

He turned to coaching after being forced to retire as a player at 20 because of a genetic knee condition.

After a spell managing Watford he became manager of his former club Reading, only to leave "by mutual consent" after just seven months.

Rodgers, who is married with two children, had been youth team coach at Reading after his playing career ended, before being invited by the "Special One", Jose Mourinho, to take the same role at Chelsea in 2004.

He was eventually promoted to become manager of their reserve team in 2006.

"I like everything in him," Mourinho said. "He is ambitious and does not see football very differently from myself.

"He is open, likes to learn and likes to communicate."

Despite his early exit from the top job at Reading, Rodgers was appointed Swansea City manager on 16 July 2010.

By the following April, he guided Swansea to the Championship play-offs and faced his old club Reading at Wembley on 30 May.

Swansea won the game 4-2 to become the first Welsh team to gain promotion to the Premier League.

Afterwards, Rodgers said: "At 4-2 and 30 odd seconds to go - and I've never, ever done it before - my mind sort of wandered to my journey as a coach.

"From my early 20s, working with kids, driving many hours, missing time with my family, all that emotion - the whole journey flashes through your mind."

Although they were among the favourites to be relegated the next season, Swansea instead finished a respectable 11th place in the table, and drew praise for their passing game and a string of impressive performances, including a 3-2 victory over Arsenal.

Rodgers was named Premier League Manager of the Month in January.

He lost his mother, Christina, in 2010 and his father Malachy the following year to cancer.

Rodgers said he liked to think his team's performance reflected his father's work ethic.

"I used to help dad paint and decorate to earn pocket money. He installed in me the value of a hard day's work. He believes that leads to success in whatever you do. He's right," he said.

"He'd work from dawn to dusk to ensure his young family had everything. I think you can see his philosophies in my team."

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