Foxes not just lucky: Rodgers

Foxes not just lucky: Rodgers

LONDON • Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers has suggested he will not get the credit he deserves for masterminding his team’s 4-1 victory over Leeds on Monday because of his nationality.

Youri Tielemans struck twice, with Jamie Vardy and Harvey Barnes also getting on the scoresheet as the Foxes crushed Marcelo Bielsa’s side to move up to second in the Premier League with 15 points, one point behind champions Liverpool.

It was Leicester’s fourth away victory of the season, following wins over West Bromwich Albion, Manchester City and Arsenal, but Rodgers feels he is not treated with the same kind of respect as his foreign counterparts.

“Because I’m a British manager, we probably got lucky,” Rodgers told reporters. “That is the way it works for British managers in these games. But the players were tactically very good and got their rewards.

“It’s the type of performance you need to win these games. You have to defend well but you know there is space.

“On the back of European travel, it was a performance that was very pleasing.”

Rodgers, whose team won 2-1 at AEK Athens in the Europa League on Thursday, also hailed his backline, which featured two 19-year-olds – Wesley Fofana and Luke Thomas – and James Justin, 22, following long-term injuries to key players like Wilfred Ndidi, Caglar Soyuncu and Ricardo Pereira.

“We’re maturing all the time as a team and that’s pleasing to see,” he said.

The form of Vardy has also given encouragement that Leicester can again fight for a top-four place. He has now been directly involved in 13 goals in his past 12 league games and with seven strikes this campaign, the 33-year-old is showing no signs of slowing down.

Former City defender and pundit Micah Richards told BBC Radio 5 Live “defenders don’t know how to play against him”, such is his movement in and around the box.

Rodgers’ men lost out on a Champions League spot on the final day of last season to Manchester United and while they faded badly in the second half of last term, they made some shrewd acquisitions in summer, giving them more squad depth this time round.

One of those arrivals is Fofana, who moved for £36 million (S$63.7 million) from Ligue 1 side Saint-Etienne and his assured displays have not gone unnoticed.

Former Celtic striker and pundit Chris Sutton said: “What an impact he has made. How good is Fofana going to be, if he is this good now?”

With Leicester making their joint-best start to a top-flight campaign, matching the 2000-01 season, and winning their opening four away games for the first time, he also believes their fans can even dream of another title, just like their maiden 2016 triumph.

“Can they? They can, they did. People are saying, ‘Can they win the Premier League title again’?” Sutton said. “Brendan’s team have been devastating. It’s another statement and a ‘watch out for us’.”

Rodgers, however, played down any talk of the title, saying: “It’s so early that it’s not really worth talking about.”

REUTERS