Few English clubs have been as affected by the pandemic as Leicester City. Few managers look more like they have been found out than Brendan Rodgers.

When the Premier League season resumed on June 17, Rodgers’ side sat in third place, five points clear of Chelsea and eight ahead of Manchester United – and appeared destined for a place in the Champions League.

It was solid work from a manager 12 months into a new job, particularly so when measured in conjunction with his efforts the previous season, securing a ninth-place finish having arrived in February as a replacement for Frenchman Claude Puel.

That form seemed to confound the belief that Rodgers is a nearly man, whose exploits at Celtic have masked the idea that he is a good coach but one who has limitations. Nevertheless, while Celtic’s panache was undeniable under the Northern Irishman, he was accused of lacking a Plan B on big occasions. It is an accusation that refuses to go away.

Sunday’s defeat by Tottenham was toothless, with Leicester reduced mostly to shots from long range as they sought to break down a team set up in classic Jose Mourinho formation.

Rodgers has not been helped by the loss to midfield talisman James Maddison, while much of his system is dependent on the penetrative runs of his full-backs Ricardo Pereira and Ben Chilwell. All three are out for the rest of the season while the dismissal of Caglar Soyuncu at Bournemouth meant that Ryan Bennett deputised at Tottenham, whereupon prime-2016 Harry Kane promptly showed up and tore him to shreds.

Rodgers only needed to look across the dugout at the man opposite him to see that sometimes your Plan B can become your Plan A. Here was Tottenham playing in a manner that was entirely at odds with long-held perceptions about how they are meant to play the game, allowing Leicester to be belligerent and slit their own throats at the same time. In fact, Spurs looked not unlike Claudio Ranieri-era Leicester as they absorbed pressure and sprung forward to fillet the Champions League aspirants.

“We decided to take away from them where they can hurt us, which is basically behind us,” said Mourinho afterwards. “We took away from them our defensive depth by making our defensive block a little bit lower than we normally do.”

This is the conundrum Rodgers faces. If he is to ever make that next step he must find a way to compromise but the suspicion is that he never will.

There has always been the initial bump for Rodgers or ‘new manager bounce’ as Sky Sports pundits have trademarked it, that period when the parabola reaches upwards seemingly headed for the stratosphere. The problem with Rodgers, certainly in England, is that what goes up has tended to come back down.

He has always excelled at PR. In 2018, off the back of purported interest from Arsenal about becoming Arsene Wenger’s successor, Rodgers suggested the following one Friday afternoon at Lennoxtown: “People will look at it and see that when I went to Liverpool they were struggling for five seasons for Champions League football and I was able to get them back. 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 – okay, Arsenal have been out of the Champions League and is that maybe the equation for someone like myself.”

All of which was true, of course. But the truth it neglected was the reality that Rodgers ultimately failed at Liverpool, and while he succeeded at Celtic it was measured success because when he got to that Champions League, his side was routinely skelped by such as Barcelona, Paris St-Germain and Bayern Munich – no great shame in that – but also by AEK Athens and Zenit St Petersburg.

The underlying theme was a refusal to bend by Rodgers, a blind adherence to his principles of attractive, attacking football. Such dogmatism ultimately cost him in Europe’s premier competition with Celtic previously, now it threatens Leicester’s very participation in it at all.

Next up for Rodgers is a winner-takes-all Champions League decider against Manchester United – who face West Ham tomorrow seeking to leapfrog Leicester prior to that final showdown – and it might just tell us whether the latter will ever change.

And another thing

I interviewed the manager of Dubai United, Michael Brady, last week. During a wide-ranging conversation lasting an hour and 40 minutes, he talked passionately about his efforts to improve the lives of his players who come to the Emirates from abject poverty.

Brady, a 37-year-old from Dundee, said there are guys all over the world like him, trying to make a difference, buying food for young men from impoverished parts of Africa and other Third World countries, providing them with mobile phones, transport money and, most of all, hope. Indeed, more than anything, his own career included, he hoped that one day they might earn a contract in a professional league with a big club.

It was genuinely heart-warming stuff and a lesson in how football can be a force for the greater good. Something forgotten too easily these days.