LIKE Harry Redknapp, the Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has a sincere enthusiasm for football which cannot fail to shine through. Just as the former Tottenham Hotspur manager relished his first trip to Tynecastle last season, Rodgers is also looking forward to sampling an atmosphere he has only heard crackling across the airwaves.
“I’ve listened to many games on radio and caught the atmosphere but I’ve never been here before,” the Irishman said yesterday as he looked forward to tonight’s first leg Europa League play-off clash.
Now that he has earned a career promotion from Swansea to Liverpool, Rodgers might not be so keen on taking away souvenirs from Tynecastle in the form of players. However, he revealed yesterday that he had contemplated making an offer for the Hearts winger David Templeton last season when he was still manager at the Liberty stadium.
Now that his budget allows him to swoop for players in the £15 million and more bracket it seems unlikely that Rodgers will following-up his interest in Templeton. However, he spoke glowingly about the winger’s attributes last night. It was a powerful riposte to those who argued that by allowing the likes of Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez to remain at home, Rodgers was not taking seriously enough the threat posed by Hearts. He certainly seemed well-briefed on the Scottish side as he spoke with a small group of Scottish reporters last night.
“Templeton is direct and good on the one-v-ones and on the inside he’s clever,” said Rodgers. “When he goes on the outside he can go either way and there’s normally an end product. On the other side the lad [Andy] Driver has had one or two injuries but they play 4-3-2-1 and get it up to big John Sutton and they can hurt us.
“I was monitoring Templeton as my scouts had spoken very highly of him,” he revealed. “At Swansea we played with wingers and they had to be bright and good on a one v one and hard workers. He was flagged up as a possibility for the summer but obviously I moved on.”
Rodgers also handed Scotland manager Craig Levein a pre-World Cup qualifiers boost last night when insisting that Charlie Adam was still part of his plans at Anfield this season. There has been talk on Merseyside that Adam will be allowed to move on. The midfielder was an unused substitute during Saturday’s 3-0 defeat to West Bromwich Albion. He has only featured for 14 minutes this season, coming on as a substitute against FC Gomel in the previous round. He did, however, play all 90 minutes for the first time for Scotland last midweek in the 3-1 friendly victory over Australia.
Adam, too, is someone Rodgers has tried to buy, on this occasion when he was manager at Reading. “So where these stories and speculation come from [that I don’t like him],” he sighed.
“Unfortunately Blackpool had just agreed a fee [with Rangers] before myself,” added Rodgers. “He wants to play football and just now it’s a case of all the players gauging how much game time they are going to get. Charlie’s been no problem. He’s a good guy and he works hard and he loves his football.
“He was brought in for a lot of money after a terrific time at Blackpool,” he added. “Last season was a wee bit broken in terms of injury but he’s come in and trained very well in pre-season and he will play tomorrow night.
“He’s a talent – everyone knows that – and he played well in the last Scotland game. He has great qualities. You never forecast anyone’s career and all I can talk about is the here and now. At the minute he’s working hard and looking to fight for a place in the team.”