Rodgers "Learned From a Top Operator" in Mourinho

Jamie McDonald

On Sunday Brendan Rodgers comes face-to-face with his old boss Jose Mourinho for the first time in league play. He took the opportunity to pay a bit of homage to the man who helped him get to where he is today.

The Premier League used to be awash with the Sons of Mourinho, former acolytes of the Portuguese manager who have eventually worked their way into their own management positions. Steve Clarke was unceremoniously let go from West Bromwich Albion recently, followed rather predictably by Andre Villas-Boas at Tottenham Hotspur, leaving Brendan Rodgers as both the longest serving and sole remaining former Mourinho collaborator in the league.

The Special One's return to England hasn't yet gone exactly as planned, but Mourinho remains unbeaten at Stamford Bridge in his combined tenure at Chelsea's helm. Liverpool's visit on Sunday could break the streak, but for Brendan Rodgers it's a chance to revisit the role Mourinho played in shaping the Liverpool man's career.

"I probably wouldn’t be sitting here now if it wasn’t for him," Rodgers lauded. "When I speak about Jose, I think of him as a friend. When I first met him in September 2004 to discuss the possibility of me taking a job at Chelsea, we hit it off straight away.

"He gave me the self-esteem and confidence to be a manager, and the one thing I really learned from him was the importance of the details. When he was manager at Chelsea the first time, I used to stand at the back of the room during press conferences. I wanted to see how he dealt with the media — obviously much better than me."

Certainly confidence and a certain je ne sais quoi with the media are indeed hallmarks of Mourinho's managerial prowess, and they're qualities that Rodgers himself has been credited with improving significantly in his time at Liverpool. Rodgers, thankfully, lacks much of the ego that comes with Mourinho's confidence and spoke humbly about his own relative obscurity prior to landing at Chelsea.

"At that time, I was preparing for the possibility that one day I would manage," Rodgers explained. "And I learned from a top operator. I’ve got a huge respect for Jose Mourinho. He was brilliant for me. I was this 30-year-old nobody assigned to work with him, and he gave me the confidence to work at that level. I had the chance to watch one of the world’s best at work, and I wasn’t going to miss that."

Mourinho may not have a lot of fans amongst Liverpool supporters owing to his general demeanour and the frequent Champions League entanglements between the Reds and Chelsea during Mourinho's time in charge there, but if he played even a small part in bringing Rodgers from a "30-year-old nobody" to the constantly evolving manager we know and love today, then we might just owe Mourinho a bit of credit in that. Just a tiny amount, though, we wouldn't want it to go to his head.

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