Brendan Rodgers

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Premier League preview: West Ham v. Leicester City

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  • Leicester City has lost just once in its last 9 meetings with West Ham
  • West Ham has just 5 PL clean sheets this season
  • Leicester City has not won 3 straight road matches since April 2016

Leicester City continues its push for a place in Europe as the Foxes travel to London to take on West Ham United live at 10:00 a.m. ET on CNBC or live online at NBCSports.com.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE HERE

The Foxes sit in seventh place in the Premier League table, and while they’re unable to catch Manchester United in sixth sitting 17 points back, they still have a crack at a place in the Europa League should Watford fail to win the FA Cup. It’s a hotly contested race, with Wolverhampton Wanderers level on points with Leicester at 47, while Everton and Watford are both a point back with 46.

As a boost, Leicester City could have Marc Albrighton back from a long-term hamstring injury that has kept him out for two months, although it’s unlikely he would start right away after being out for so long. The 29-year-old was a regular in the Leicester lineup before his injury, appearing in all but two of the club’s Premier League matches until his injury in early February.

For the Hammers, they sit in 11th position and have work to do to reach the top half of the table, behind Watford and Everton by four points. Jack Wilshere could find his way back from an ankle injury, although the club is reportedly being careful with his return. They are missing a trio of important attacking players, with Manuel Lanzini, Javier Hernandez, and Samir Nasri all likely out with injury problems.

What they’re saying

West Ham manager on his season to this point: “It’s not an easy answer because there are two sides to it. Yes, I’m happy because it is a solid season compared to the last one. Having so many important players injured for so long is not easy. But always I feel we can do better.”

Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers on a possible European place: “We’re not really thinking about that. We want to finish as high as we can and do our very best. It’s important we continue to work and prepare for next season while finishing as strongly as possible.”

Prediction

Leicester City has fared well against West Ham in the past, and while this is a road trip for the Foxes, it has far more importance to the visitors than the home side, who have already pretty much packed up shop for the season. With Leicester City needing this match much more, and West Ham missing a number of attacking players, the Foxes should come away with it 2-1, returning home with a vital three points away from home.

Premier League Preview: Leicester City v. Newcastle United

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  • Leicester won 2-0 at Newcastle
  • Foxes have won 6 of last 7 v. Magpies
  • Newcastle leads all-time 51W-27D-44L

Two former Liverpool bosses meet with very different aims when Newcastle United visits Leicester City on Friday (Watch live at 3 p.m. on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Brendan Rodgers and Leicester City are targeting seventh place and a place in the Europa League, while Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez wants another win or two to clinch Premier League safety.

The Foxes lost to Watford in their first match under Rodgers, but have beaten four bottom half sides to put together a fine winning streak and climb into seventh; Leicester is level on points with Wolves and a point ahead of Watford, though both have played one fewer match.

What they’re saying

Leicester City’s Rodgers“I expect a very, very tough game. Rafa is a top class manager who organizes his teams exceptionally well. They play in a 5-4-1 structure when they haven’t got the ball. They don’t give away many goals, so we know we will have to have that patience, but we have a lot of exciting players in the team who can be good in one-on-one situations, and who can manipulate the ball.”

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez: “Now we have five games and we have to think of every one like a final, as we have said many times. We must approach every game with confidence, calm, and the belief that we can do it. Leicester are a very good team. They are playing with more confidence now, and it will be tough for us, for sure.”

Prediction

Leicester’s attackers may be a bit too much for Rafa’s imposing defense, especially with Florian Lejeune and Sean Longstaff out of the lineup, but the chemistry between Miguel Almiron, Ayoze Perez, and Salomon Rondon has given the Magpies another dimension. 1-1.

Rodgers, Parker reveal pride at new jobs

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There will be two new Premier League managers in the dugouts this weekend, as Brendan Rodgers takes charge of Leicester City for the first time and Scott Parker steps in at Fulham.

Rodgers’ first game in charge of the Foxes will be at Watford on Sunday (Watch live, 7 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), while Parker’s Fulham host Chelsea in a west London derby on the same day (Watch live, 9:05 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

After leaving Celtic, Rodgers has been the subject of abuse from fans of the Scottish giants but in his first press conference as Leicester boss the lifelong Celtic fan explained the decision he made was an incredibly tough one.

“It is a very, very difficult decision. If I was making this decision with my heart then I’d be at Celtic for life. It is an incredible club that I have supported all my life. If all happened very quickly,” Rodgers said. “I was presented an opportunity that came to me and of course, emotionally, you’re having to take that out. My decision was that after nearly three years at Celtic, with everything we achieved, the success we had on the pitch and the improvements we made off the pitch, I felt it was probably time to move on to my next challenge. I’ve had opportunities to leave in my three years at Celtic, but this was an opportunity I felt was too good to turn down.”

Rodgers added that “Celtic supporters will hurt” and he “understands how they feel” as there is now uncertainty regarding their future under interim manager Neil Lennon.

But focusing on Leicester, Rodgers believes qualifying for Europe and winning one of the domestic cup competitions is a realistic aim for his talented young squad.

“With the club having that ambition to move forward and keep progressing, that was ultimately what was the real draw. The expectancy is to challenge for a European place and look to win a trophy. That has to be the expectation,” Rodgers said. “I think what Leicester achieved a few years ago [winning the Premier League title] was an incredible story. It is recognized as one of the most incredible stories in the history of football. That will always be difficult to repeat. However, after a couple of years of instability their object is to move forward. For me to come here at this stage of the season was to come in and assess where the squad is at over these last remaining games and see where we can improve.”


Parker admitted that he has “mixed emotions” to take his first managerial job, as the former Charlton, Chelsea, West Ham, Tottenham, Newcastle and Fulham midfielder takes over from Claudio Ranieri.

The Italian coach was fired after Fulham lost 2-0 at Southampton on Wednesday as they’re now 10 points from safety with 10 games to go.

Parker, who was part of Ranieri’s coaching staff, has been placed in interim charge until the end of the season and his remit is clear: restore pride to the team.

“It’s definitely an audition. On a personal note this is something I started working towards seven years ago when I was a Spurs player,” Parker said. “I’ve got an ambition to be a manager. My main focus at this moment in time is getting the team together, finding some stability.”

The former England international knows it will be a huge ask to keep Fulham in the PL now, as the Cottagers have an very tough schedule remaining. After their clash against Chelsea on Sunday they face Leicester, Liverpool and Man City.

Parker knows miracles aren’t expected of him, and his main aim is to knit the squad of players together.

“The situation doesn’t lie. It’s a tough ask but I’m relishing the opportunity of testing ourselves against these big teams. We need to get a balance back. As a club, as fans, as players, as owners, we just need to regroup a little bit,” Parker said. “If we do that well, results will be a by-product of that. I hope I can transmit my passion to the team, get my energy across. I know there’s more to football than passion and drive, but that’s a fundamental element.”

Kolo Toure joins Brendan Rodgers’ staff at Leicester City

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A familiar face has made his return to the Premier League, although in a very different capacity.

Longtime Liverpool defender Kolo Toure has joined the Leicester City coaching staff, following Brendan Rodgers from Celtic to Liverpool. The 37-year-old retired a little under two years ago, having played for Rodgers at both Liverpool and Celtic. He immediately joined Rodgers’ staff upon retirement, and the two have formed a coaching partnership.

Toure has dived headfirst into coaching since the end of his playing days. Not only has he begun to learn under Rodgers and the rest of his backroom staff in Chris Davies and Glen Driscoll, but Toure was also been a part of the Ivory Coast coaching setup, serving on both the senior squad during the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations as well as working with the U-23 squad.

When he joined Celtic in 2017, Toure said, “I can learn so much from working with Brendan Rodgers, he is a top manager. I will be working with him and his staff very closely each day. He is one of the best young managers in the world right now. What he’s doing for Celtic is there for all to see, he’s doing amazingly right now.”

In his playing days, Toure made 354 Premier League appearances for Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester City, earning a pair of league titles eight years apart. While the majority of his career came under legendary Gunners’ boss Arsene Wenger, he made 64 appearances in his career for Rodgers between Liverpool and Celtic.

Toure also owns over 100 caps for Cote d’Ivoire, playing in two World Cups and finishing runners up in the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations as the host country.

Rodgers visits players after win, promises ‘special things on horizon’

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Leicester City is looking ahead to better times after the firing of Claude Puel, the hiring of Brendan Rodgers, and a 2-1 defeat of Brighton and Hove Albion on Tuesday.

[ RECAP: Leicester 2-1 Brighton ]

“We want to look up rather than down now,” said Harry Maguire. “The performances haven’t been too bad but the results haven’t been good enough.”

The performance was good enough for three points on Tuesday, though Davy Propper pulled a goal back for the Seagulls after Leicester went ahead 2-0.

Leicester interim manager Mike Stowall said the club is expecting Rodgers to instill consistency and as growth mindset in the team.

“He’s got great experience working with young players and we’ve got plenty,” Stowall said. “He’s got a presentation for them to show them what he expects on and off the pitch so I look forward to seeing that as well.”

“He’s pleased. He just spoke to the lads in the dressing room. He was proud of them and liked the spirit and he promised them there are special things on the horizon.”

Rodgers had a big personality and will quickly move to quell unrest at a club rumored to be plagued by “player power” spearheaded by striker Jamie Vardy.

And Maguire thinks the statement of Rodgers leaving Celtic for the KP is a loud one.

“I’m excited to get started, we all know his profile and what he’s done,” Maguire said. “We’re all looking forward to working with him. … Celtic are a massive club so it shows how big Leicester are getting and our ambitions. It’s exciting times. We know he’s coached a lot of young players and we hope he can bring them on. We’re all excited.”