Celtic's Brendan Rodgers downplays Arsenal links, praises Arsene Wenger
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has dismissed suggestions he will replace Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, insisting that he is happy to be coaching the Scottish Premiership leaders.
Wenger, in his 21st season, has been under renewed scrutiny with Arsenal sixth in the Premier League — 10 points off the Champions League places — and following a pair of 3-0 defeats against Manchester City.
“Arsenal is a great club with a great manager,” Rodgers said at a news conference. “People will look at it and see that I went to Liverpool, they were struggling for five seasons for Champions League football and I was able to get them back [into the competition].
“When I came to Celtic, they hadn’t been in the Champions League for three seasons and I got them back, so maybe people are thinking, ‘OK, Arsenal have been out of the Champions League and that is maybe the equation for someone like myself.’
“However, I’m loving my life up here. I’m not going to be here forever but I’m living in a dream — although dreams always come to an end at some point, that’s for sure. I’m always relaxed about speculation and whatnot but my focus is only on Celtic.”
Rodgers coached in the Premier League with Swansea City in 2010-11 and 2011-12 and then moved to Liverpool, where he was sacked in October 2015 two months into his fourth season.
Wenger lost the Carabao Cup final to City on Feb. 25 and then lost the Premier League rematch at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday, renewing calls for a change.
“It’s a fantastic club, Arsenal, but they have a great manager,” Rodgers said. “Unfortunately, the criticism Arsene takes is now the way in the modern game, modern football. That’s unfortunate because he has done so much for the British game.
“He came in 20-odd years ago and revolutionised the game. And it’s sometimes disappointing and sad for another manager to see someone of that quality and who is held in such esteem have to go through that.”
Rodgers, 45, was appointed Celtic manager before the 2016-17 season and oversaw a domestic treble and an unbeaten league campaign, finishing on 106 points. They are six points ahead of rivals Rangers as they try to wrap up their seventh consecutive league title.
“I love my professional life here — the challenges of managing, the expectations, the scrutiny that comes with Celtic,” Rodgers said. “Like I say, I’m living the dream. As for the other stuff, you can’t control it so I don’t worry about it. It will always be the case at big clubs, especially if your results turn the other way.
“What you have to be prepared for when you manage the big clubs is that there will be times when between five and 10 other people will be linked with your job. That doesn’t happen in too many other industries.”
Others linked to take over for Wenger include Carlo Ancelotti and club legend Thierry Henry.
“We live a privileged life,” Rodgers said. “We get to manage and work with great players and great people, but at the big clubs, there is big scrutiny and, probably, when my results drop off here a bit, I’m sure there will be names linked. You have to accept that as part of the job.”
“Arsene will know that, he’s got great experience and he’s a really good man. He’s done wonders for British football and it’s just unfortunate at this period – and for a little while now – the focus has really been on him.”
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