Brendan Rodgers has revealed that he can no longer be friends with Jose Mourinho because of the rivalry that exists between Liverpool and Chelsea, even though they were once very close.
Speaking ahead of their Capital One Cup semi-final first leg at Anfield on Tuesday evening, Rodgers described how his rise to managing one of the Premier League's biggest clubs has meant the relationship he once had with the Stamford Bridge boss was impossible to maintain.
"You don’t have the conversations you had before and ultimately you become a rival"
The Northern Irishman was once the youth team coach at Chelsea, appointed by Mourinho, and the pair had a very close relationship while Rodgers was with the Blues and even when he left for spells in charge of Watford, Reading and Swansea City.
However, things have not been the same since Mourinho returned to the Premier League for a second time after successful spells in charge of Inter Milan and Real Madrid with Rodgers now in charge of a direct rival in Liverpool.
Strain in their relationship hit a peak last season when Mourinho took the Blues to Anfield in a crucial Premier League clash, which the the Reds needed to win to keep their title hopes alive. The visitors that day defended resolutely and a sSteven Gerrard slip handed Demba Ba to score the crucial goal.
Willian's late strike put some gloss on the scoreline, but Chelsea were not particularly interested in coming out and playing expansive football in attempt to tear open the Liverpool defence. After the game, Rogders called it parking two buses and even called for Mourinho to apologise. Liverpool went on to throw away the title.
Tuesday's clash will be the second time that Chelsea have gone to Anfield since that crucial meeting, with the Blues emerging 2-1 winners earlier this season the first time. Rodgers described how friendship between he and Mourinho is now difficult to maintain and is likely to only get worse, though respect will always remain.
“We probably don’t have as much contact now but the respect has not left. The opportunity to work with him in that period of three-and-a-bit years was invaluable to me and hopefully in some ways I helped him because we had a lot of communication," he told reporters.
"But of course when you’re fighting for the same competition, the friendship …
“I have a huge respect for him, he’s a wonderful man and coach but you are so engrossed in your own work that you don’t communicate as much, you don’t have the conversations you had before and ultimately you become a rival. But certainly the respect hasn’t dropped or been lost. He is a good man.”