Former Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack has suggested that Brendan Rodgers is destined for bigger things than Celtic, whilst praising the work the Northern Irishman has done in his short time in Glasgow.
Rodgers and his Hoops side have started the season in magnificent form, qualifying for the Champions League and hammering arch rivals Rangers in the process, and his progress hasn’t gone unnoticed by Ballack.
The former Germany captain worked with Rodgers during his stint at Chelsea, and seems to hold the coach in high regard.
Speaking to ESPN, via The Sun, Ballack reflected on meeting Rodgers almost a decade ago, and said: “Of course I thought he’d go on to bigger and better things. Everyone starts low and early. He started working with youth players, the academy.
“Now I think he has adapted very well to professional football with all the circumstances, the media, the pressure you have in big clubs.
“Liverpool and Celtic are big teams. He is a guy who loves football, loves inside football, the real game. I am sure he will make his way.
“He is good enough also for bigger clubs. No disrespect to Celtic, but, as you know, there are teams as a player or manager that you always have an eye on.
“Chelsea? I don’t know yet. He won’t think or talk about that. Other people should do it and why not? He’s a good guy to work with, he creates a good atmosphere. In the dressing room he knows how to speak and also how to put pressure on the players.”
Ballack suffered from extensive injury problems during his time with the Blues, and often found himself rehabilitating with Rodgers and the youth team squad.
Reflecting on how Rodgers worked, Ballack added: “Brendan was youth coach when I was at Chelsea.
“Sometimes I had my individual work in the training ground and before I joined the first team I had to do a lot of training sessions with the youth team.
“I think, first of all, he’s a really nice guy who has a good hand for young players.
“But also for experienced players. I remember when I was injured I trained with him.
“I can tell you the way he handles experienced players is respectful. He’s not a coach who actually tries to show that he has power or as a manager that he has power.
“He always looks for a good relationship with players. My experience tells me that he handled both really well which, from what I know in my past, not every manager can do. It comes down to personality, how you step up in front of the team and how you want to handle your team and how big is your team. He can do both.
“He showed it at Liverpool as well. With all the expectations he did a good job, developed the team and I wish him all the best at Celtic.”
What do you think of Ballack’s comments? He obviously rates Rodgers highly, but is he being disrespectful to a club Celtic’s size by saying he’ll go on to bigger and better things, or is he just stating the obvious?