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Leicester's Rodgers: I didn't leave Celtic for 'mediocre club'

Leicester's Rodgers: I didn't leave Celtic for 'mediocre club'

ESPN

Fulham caretaker manager Scott Parker said a message from former Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson had inspired him ahead of a difficult rescue mission at the struggling Premier League side.

Relegation-threatened Fulham dismissed Claudio Ranieri on Thursday and named Parker as his temporary replacement, with the former England midfielder set to take charge of the team for the first time against his old club Chelsea on Sunday.

Ferguson, who won the Champions League twice, the league 13 times and five FA Cups with United, was among those who backed Parker to succeed in his new role.

"I don't have many friends but yesterday my phone was pinging all the time," Parker, a coach at Fulham since July last year, told a news conference.

"Sir Alex [Ferguson] texted me which was incredible. To think he spent the time to write a long detailed message giving me advice on how he sees things was truly inspirational.

"We all understand the football world, there's times when things are going well and you see the love."

Parker said he had mixed emotions following the sacking of Ranieri, who arrived in November to replace Slavisa Jokanovic but lasted 16 league games.

"He came in and had open arms with me in the sense of helping and I'd like to think I helped him at times. On the flip side of that, [feelings] of excitement," the 38-year-old added.

"I appreciate the opportunity which the owners have given me here. It's a big job but I'm really looking forward to it."

Following the Chelsea game, promoted Fulham face potentially difficult tests against Ranieri's former side Leicester City, leaders Liverpool and champions Manchester City this month.

"The situation doesn't lie, it's a tough one. Regarding those games, this is a bunch of players that last year were one of the best teams in the Championship," Parker said.

"I think my main focus is to get a balance back. When you lose a lot, things can go off on different tangents and I feel that's where we are... we need to regroup and I know if we do that, results will be a byproduct.

"At times this year we've been easy to play against and that's why fans have pulled away a bit... we need to change... and address that in the coming weeks."

Fulham are 19th in the league with 17 points from 28 games.

New Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers has brushed aside suggestions that he moved to a "mediocre club" after leaving Scottish champions Celtic to return to the Premier League.

Rodgers, who won the domestic Treble twice in Scotland, was appointed Leicester's new boss on Tuesday after Claude Puel's sacking and signed a deal until June 2022.

Rodgers' decision to leave Celtic before he accomplished a "Treble-Treble" did not sit well with the club's supporters who unfurled a banner during their match against Hearts on Wednesday calling him a "fraud" for trading "immortality for mediocrity."

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"I certainly haven't swapped to come into a mediocre club. This is a fantastic club with a rich history of its own," Rodgers told reporters ahead of Sunday's trip to Watford.

"Celtic supporters will hurt. I understand how they feel. For me, this was about the challenge and coming back into the Premier League."

Leicester sit 11th in the standings with no hope of winning a trophy but Rodgers said he has big expectations next season, hoping to challenge for a trophy again after the club defied 5,000-1 odds to win the Premier League title in 2016.

"The expectancy is to challenge for a European place [next season] and look to win a trophy," Rodgers, who nearly led Liverpool to the league title in 2014, added.

"What Leicester achieved was an incredible story. That will always be difficult to repeat."

Rodgers also said leaving Celtic, a club he supported, was not an easy decision to make but he could not turn down the Leicester job when it was offered to him.

"It was a very difficult decision. If I was making this decision with my heart I would have been at Celtic for life because it is an incredible club and one I've supported all my life," Rodgers said.

"It all happened very quickly. This was an opportunity that was presented to me and, of course, then emotionally you have to take that out.

"After nearly three years at Celtic with everything we had achieved I felt it was time to move on to my next challenge. I've had opportunities to leave but this one was too good to turn down, with the ambition that Leicester have."

ESPN