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Noel Hunt Defends Brendan Rodgers' Time At Reading FC

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Speaking to the Daily Record, the former Royal praised the qualities of the current Celtic boss.

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Brendan Rodgers' time at Reading might seem like ancient history, but it was actually only seven years ago that the current Celtic boss was chosen to replace Steve Coppell. Despite quickly making his name at Watford, his time in Berkshire would prove to be an unsuccessful one, with the sack coming only a few months after his appointment.

Looking back on his later success at Swansea, and mixed fortunes with Liverpool, it's hard to fathom why that same figure struggled to bring success to the Royals. However, one of Rodgers' players at Reading - Noel Hunt - is very much a fan of his. Speaking about the Northern Irishman, Hunt said...

"I'm the biggest Brendan Rodgers fan out there, the way he treated his players, the way he spoke to you. He was a gentleman. Ask some of the other boys who are up here this week. Jem Karacan played for him and loved him as did Simon Cox - he made us all better players in a short space of time.

He opened up your eyes to different things in the game, showed you dimensions to the play you hadn't thought of before."

Speaking about his initial personal experiences with Rodgers, Hunt praised the way that the former Reading player boosted his confidence during a difficult spell in his career.

"I'd been injured when he arrived at Reading in summer 2009. I'd broken my foot in March of the previous season and we just missed out on promotion.

We lost to Birmingham on the last day of the season to lose second place to them and they went up automatically. We lost to Burnley in the play-offs and the gaffer Steve Coppell left. It was all a shock.

But Brendan came in and he was so, so good. He's a perfectionist. I got back from my injury in July and he pushed me hard to get fit for him."

So, why exactly did the Rodgers/Reading combination not click? Interestingly, Hunt lays the blame more at the feet (pun intended) of the players than he does the manager.

"[Rodgers] has his philosophies on the game. His training was magnificent and he really made players better. I actually think we let him down as we weren't good enough to play the way he wanted us to, to do justice to the calibre of his coaching and management.

He deserved to be with a top team as he delivered such high quality himself. It's the best coaching I've had and he was good to all the boys - we would have done anything for him."

Hunt's praise for Rodgers isn't limited solely to the pitch. Because of those injury troubles that Hunt experienced during 2009, the Irishman took on new responsibilities during his rehab.

"I was 26 and facing a year out with an operation. But he took me under his wing and got me involved. He said, 'I want you to go and watch games for me' and sent me to Man United v Liverpool, Stoke v Spurs, Chelsea v West Ham and gave me reports to do on the players.

Then he got me involved coaching Reading Under-14s, which was my first taste of what I'm doing now. Two of the kids from that team have just signed pro contracts. One of them has played for the first team and it's great to see that progression. You like to feel you've helped them some of the way down the line.

But Brendan was the one who made me study the game properly - as well as playing it."

Who knows, maybe we could one day see Noel Hunt in the dugout at the Madejski Stadium. Here's to hoping.

The above quotes from a Daily Record article, which you can find here.