Brendan Rodgers hopes to notch 1000 games as manager while at Celtic as he reaches milestone
It couldn’t be so when the encounter will see the Northern Irishman’s management career branch out to 700 games. Especially when Rodgers hopes this is a precursor to reaching the magic 1,000 matches while at Celtic - only 80 managers chronicled as having topped the four-figure total for senior games in footballing history. If Rodgers were to remain in Glasgow for the 301 required for his thousand, almost half that total would be clocked up in his current post, across two spells.
His current figure is all the more remarkable when, at 50-years-old, he is hardly in his coaching dotage. Many of the coaching luminaries who have gone before him to amass even more eye-watering tallies had their greatest successes beyond the age he is now. Not that Rodgers doesn’t feel that the stresses of every game are betrayed by his countenance. The strains of the role particularly acute for him this week, having watched his team lose their Champions League hosting Lazio to a 95th-minute goal after victory was snatched at Motherwell with a 97th-minute winner days earlier.
When alerted to the impending 700-game landmark, he said: “There you go. I look like it as well … time goes fast, eh? I was 35 when I took my first manager’s job. It has been 15 years. I was obviously coaching for 15 years before that. I am very proud of my career, but I hope we can keep having more exciting moments and exciting times.”
Every manager has ups and downs. Rodgers has enjoyed longevity in producing more than enough of the former. Evidenced through being the only manager in Scottish football to win seven consecutive trophies – achieved in his Celtic first spell between 2016 and 2019 – claiming Leicester City’s first FA Cup, taking Liverpool to the cusp of the title after an age in the dolrums and earning Swansea City a first promotion to the English Premier League. The downs his ill-fated brief spell with Reading after cutting his teeth with Watford in 2008-09, and losing his job at both Liverpool – in 2016 – and Leicester, earlier this year.
His coaching acumen means it is unlikely he won’t eventually join top of the tree Alex Ferguson – who topped 2,000 matches – and all manner of the great and good of the trackside across the globe. Including Celtic titans Willie Maley and Jock Stein, Rangers icon Bill Struth and the club’s treble winner Dick Advocaat. What is absent from a list that also includes such well-kents as Jim McLean, David Moyes and Jim Jefferies – as well as British givens in Brian Clough, Bobby Robson and Roy Hodgson, and foreign favourites Arsene Wenger, Carlos Ancelotti, Giovanni Trappatoni, Rafael Benitiz and Vanderlei Luxemborgo (the 1,800-game Brazilian second only to Ferguson) – is anyone from Rodgers’ part of Ireland.
“I think you have to have resilience and persistence in management,” he said. “You know there are going to be ups and downs in it. But I have been very fortunate in my career to have a lot of really good moments and good times and work with a lot of fantastic players and coaches. I am looking forward to this next decade now. My target was always to get to 1,000 games as a manager. Hopefully I can achieve that here at Celtic and keep looking to win games.”
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