x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Rodgers' former chairman backs him for Liverpool coach job

Jimmy Russo was the chairman of Watford when Rodgers was linked with the vacancy at Reading in the summer of 2009.

Brendan Rogers was fired five months into his job at Reading after he moved on from Watford in 2009.
Brendan Rogers was fired five months into his job at Reading after he moved on from Watford in 2009.

The last chairman Brendan Rodgers walked out on mid-contract has no ill feeling towards the likely new Liverpool manager, describing him as an "honourable person".

Jimmy Russo was the chairman of Watford when Rodgers became the subject of intense speculation linking him with the vacancy at Reading in the summer of 2009.

He distanced himself from leaving Watford after less than eight months in charge, stating his "concentration is fully on Watford" but weeks later he had agreed to join the club where he first cut his teeth as a coach.

"There was lots of speculation about Reading but he convinced me he was going to stay," Russo said. "But I'd not heard from him for a few weeks and started to get nervous. Reading then came in for him and asked for permission to speak to him but I didn't allow it. I had to play hardball."

Once a compensation package worth an initial £500,000 (Dh2.8 million), which could have risen to £900,000 had Rodgers been successful at Reading, had been agreed, Russo gave Reading permission to speak to his manager. The move, however, backfired for Rodgers and he lasted just five months before he was fired.

"Brendan was very honourable in the end and apologised for how he handled it," Russo said. "I remember reading Brendan subsequently saying in an interview it was a big mistake to leave Watford too early. It was just too tempting for him at the time to turn down and the pull of his hometown was too much. He was a novice then and went too quickly."

Russo inherited Rodgers as manager when he took over the chairmanship of the club in 2009.

"Brendan was extremely polite and very well trained," Russo said. "I watched a few sessions and was impressed by his attention to detail. He's very solid as a person and down to earth. He's the sort of guy people want to work with and he had the respect of the players."

kaffleck@thenational.ae

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