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Dublin: 1°C Friday 7 May 2021

David Meyler: Beating Liverpool after a Christmas party in Dublin and predictions on Rodgers' return

In this week’s column, the ex-midfielder gives his thoughts on the Leicester City boss and looks ahead to Mourinho v Guardiola.

EX-IRELAND INTERNATIONAL David Meyler has joined The42 as our new football columnist for this season.

Every Friday, the former Hull City and Sunderland midfielder will give expert insight and his predictions ahead of the weekend’s Premier League action, alongside the latest William Hill prices. 

In his latest piece, he takes a look at the managerial career of Brendan Rodgers ahead of a meeting with former club Liverpool at Anfield, and calls Saturday’s clash between Tottenham and Manchester City.

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Liverpool v Leicester City, 7.15pm Sunday

I’ve always been impressed by the way Brendan Rodgers conducts himself. 

When Swansea won promotion to the Premier League under his guidance in 2011 — with Scott Sinclair scoring a hat-trick in the play-off final — he made it his business to console Reading owner John Madejski and manager Brian McDermott before lifting the trophy at Wembley. 

The style of football he coaches his teams to play, with a big focus on possession, is enjoyable to watch. I remember when Swansea first arrived in the top flight with Joe Allen and Leon Britton pulling the strings in the centre of the park. They were a wonderful team — very organised, extremely disciplined and every player knew exactly what they were being asked to do.

You always felt he was a manager that would progress up the ladder. So when he took over at Liverpool, I was excited by his arrival as a lifelong Reds fan.

He quickly built a team that could challenge for the Premier League and, while at Hull, I came up against them in December 2013.

The previous weekend, our Christmas party had been arranged. We lost to Crystal Palace at home on the Saturday, then headed to Dublin that night and were out again all day Sunday.

I remember sitting in Temple Bar with a few of the Hull lads and a pint of Guinness in front of me saying ‘Jesus, we’re playing Liverpool next week. How are we going to get a result against them?’.

They were knocking on Manchester City’s door in the title race, while Hull had never beaten them in any competition. It looked a tall order.

What happens the following week? We only go and win 3-1, and — if that wasn’t enough — I chipped in with a goal and an assist. We were good value for three points that day too. 

I’ll never forget it because we were in the changing room afterwards, all exhausted after putting in such a massive shift.

Steve Bruce walks in and is almost flabbergasted. Then somebody shouts out ‘Back to Dublin for the night!’ and the place erupts with laughter, before he replies ‘No chance’.

soccer-barclays-premier-league-hull-city-v-liverpool-kc-stadium Celebrating my goal for Hull in the win over Liverpool in 2013. Source: Richard Sellers

A few months later, we had a day off and I’ve gone over to Liverpool to see Jordan Henderson — a good friend since our days at Sunderland together. He was training and asked if I wanted to go with him to Melwood.

He brought me up to the canteen for breakfast and then left to get sorted for his session. I was sat in the players’ waiting room when Brendan walked in and said hello to Philippe Coutinho’s family before doing a double-take when he spotted me.

We ended up chatting for 20-30 minutes. It was fascinating to pick his brain about football as I have massive respect for him. He was very frustrated at the manner in which they had lost to us and added that if they were going to win the title then those were the type of games they needed to be getting results in.

Speaking of Jordan, we were in the middle of a conversation over the phone when Rodgers walked in to speak to him in 2012. Rodgers said ‘Look, your time is going to be limited here. There’s an opportunity for you to go to Fulham and play regular football’.

Jordan told him he wanted to stay and fight for his place. He did that and Brendan ended up making him captain after Gerrard left the club. He deserves huge credit for that when you consider the heights he has gone to on to hit since then.

He’s kind of like the manager on the pitch, so it’s crazy to think he nearly left all those years ago.

liverpool-v-leicester-city-premier-league-anfield Brendan Rodgers and Jurgen Klopp share a hug. Source: Peter Byrne

Liverpool missed out on the league with Rodgers in charge and it needed the arrival of Jurgen Klopp take them to the next level. There is no doubt that Klopp deserves all the praise he gets, but I think there should also be a mention for the work Rodgers did there.

After that, he went to Celtic and goes on this unbelievable winning streak — claiming back-to-back trebles and then opting to leave for Leicester City in February 2019.

Now you can see the success he’s having with the Foxes and it doesn’t come as a surprise to me. Last season, they were superb at times but faded away and just missed out on the Champions League spots.

However, they have kicked on again this term and now sit top of the table.

I don’t think Leicester will win the Premier League this season, but I predict that they’ll finish up around Champions League spots. Having said that, stranger things have happened — no more so than in 2016 when they were crowned champions under Claudio Ranieri — and a lot of those players know what it takes to get over the line.

Sunday’s game is huge and while Liverpool are missing a host of defenders, they still have a lot of firepower up front. With all that in mind, I expect it to be a 2-2 draw

Tottenham v Man City, 5.30pm Saturday  

jose-mourinho-file-photo Mourinho has won trophies everywhere he has been. Source: PA

If you look at Jose Mourinho’s track record, he has won trophies everywhere he’s been. Although some in the media have written him off as a top manager, I feel he will be the one to finally deliver them a trophy. Will it be the Premier League though? I’m not so sure.

Man City have not played super football this season, but, with a game in hand, they are still within touching distance of top spot.

I’ve backed City to win the league, and I think Liverpool will finish runners-up. At the same time, Spurs are flying high right now — Harry Kane and Heung-min Son are one of the deadliest duos in world football at the moment with the goals and assists they are providing.

However, I just fancy Man City to turn them over so I’m going to go 3-1 City and Raheem Sterling to score anytime. I’ve got him in my fantasy team and he hasn’t been producing but I’m willing to give him another week if he’s passed fit.

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