Rodgers upbeat despite opening loss in charge of Leicester

Brendan Rodgers saw enough from his Leicester side to be positive about the future, despite his first game in charge ending in a 2-1 defeat to Watford.

Rodgers, back in the Premier League for the first time since losing his job at Liverpool in October 2015, looked to be opening his Foxes tenure with a point after Jamie Vardy cancelled out Troy Deeney’s fifth-minute opener.

But Andre Gray ruined his day when he struck an injury-time winner at Vicarage Road.

The match got off to a poor start but after Vardy’s 76th-minute leveller, Leicester looked the more likely side until Gray’s intervention.

“I have got a good idea from watching the team in terms of that the needs are for the summer,” he said.

“It’s a case of coming in and working with the players we have.

“They are a fantastic group of players, who have a great spirit and are very keen to learn.

“I said to them despite the result we have had a really good week’s training, they have taken on board the areas we spoke about.

“I know we can improve, there are things we need to get better at, but there is a lot of potential in there. I am looking forward to another week’s training before my first home game.”

Vardy’s leveller was a classic goal for the former England striker as he found space in between the two centre-halves before racing on to Youri Tielemans’ throughball and finishing coolly.

He later had to go off feeling the effects of a first-half collision with Ben Foster, but Rodgers believes the 32-year-old is someone he can build his team around.

Rodgers added: “He’s a player I’ve always loved, we’ve seen in the last number of years, he’s a born goalscorer, but he is perfect for us in the intensity in which he presses and his running ability.

“He showed what he is great at, the pass by Youri, great speed and a wonderful finish, so it is just about getting players in and around him, so he is not on on his own and we did that in the second half.

“It’s a shame he went off, he just felt the effects of the first half when he had the collision but we are hoping he will be OK in the next couple of days.”

Rodgers was returning to Vicarage Road, the place where he began his managerial career, and he was not handed the warmest of receptions, as he was resoundingly booed by the Hornets fans.

“I didn’t hear so much, to be honest,” the former Celtic manager added. “I will always be grateful for Watford, I have said many times.

“They had the tradition of giving young managers a chance, they gave me mine. I loved my time here, the start was a little difficult because we were at the bottom, but we grew and developed.

“I made a mistake when I left here. It is a wonderful club, the supporters are great here. I know how difficult it is to get a result here. It’s a wonderful club, Watford.”

For Watford it was a perfect response to their 5-0 defeat at Liverpool in midweek, winning a fourth game in five.

They are firmly in the race to finish seventh, are still in the FA Cup, and Spanish boss Javi Gracia is optimistic for the rest of the season.

He said: “Today was a good performance because we remembered what happened against Leicester in the first game (a 2-0 loss).

“We have a good balance in the team, the perfect atmosphere to play the rest of the season, there are nine games left, five of them are a home and we have the quarter-final of the FA Cup.

“I can see that the players want the feelings more and more and they are ambitious.”

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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