The tale of pupil versus master is always proven to be a great one when it comes to sport, and particularly football.
Everybody loves to see it. A former star locking horns with his old mentor, turning the pages from old to new and ushering in a new era.
For Steven Gerrard and Brendan Rodgers, this will not be the first dance.
For the first time since their Old Firm rivalry, Steven Gerrard and Brendan Rodgers meet again
Of course, the duo have met on two occasions at the very peak of Scottish football, doing battle as managers of Rangers and Celtic respectively.
Each know just what it takes to win. Rodgers has pulled off victory over Gerrard and his once Liverpool talisman repaid the gesture by winning with Rangers at Ibrox – and in doing so became the first manager to defeat the Northern Irishman in a Old Firm derby.
But now they meet on the biggest stage in British football; the Premier League.
Rodgers returned to the big time with an exciting Leicester side very much on an upwards arc, while Gerrard has been handed a shot against the top guns by an Aston Villa in need of restoration.
It’s Rodgers vs Gerrard once again, with the added prestige of local derby pride on the line.
But what exactly does this fixture mean to the two men? What is the tale of the tape and what sort of consequences could emerge from a big victory on either side? Sportsmail takes a closer look…
The Anfield days
The relationship between Rodgers and Gerrard is an interesting one, given that it ended on friendly terms with the kindest of words exchanged on either side – but that did not detract from the fact that the northern Irishman had to be the Liverpool boss to phase Gerrard out.
It was always the unthinkable. A Liverpool side surely could not be without Steven Gerrard, at least in some capacity.
Gerrard himself initially believed he would be moulded into a more defensive, sitting position in Rodgers’ Liverpool side – especially after having almost guided the side to the most unlikely of league titles during the 2013-14 campaign.
But things would unravel.
The selling of Luis Suarez to Barcelona, followed by a mass spending spree on several rather unconsidered signings, simply led to chaos.
Liverpool needed a drastic refresh and Rodgers decided it was time to summon Gerrard into his Melwood office and tell the skipper frankly that his playing time would soon become severely managed. Gerrard, who believed he still had plenty to give the side, was taken aback.
Both parties reached an understanding but it soon became clear to Gerrard that one final challenge elsewhere now likely lay in store, before hanging his boots up for good. The plane tickets to Los Angeles were soon booked. But, as aforementioned, things did not end badly.
Gerrard was a key man when Rodgers arrived but was ultimately phased out of the team
In his parting Liverpool press conference Gerrard spoke glowingly of Rodgers, reflecting briefly on what-could-have-been during the 13/14 season and admitting he wished he could have played under the former Swansea boss much sooner in his career.
‘I just wish I had met him when I was coming into my prime, maybe 25 or 26 years of age,’ said Gerrard.
‘I’m sure we’d be standing here having won plenty more trophies.’
Rodgers returned the kind words and spoke of Gerrard’s professionalism and character. It was clear a respect existed between the duo, and it only emerged once Gerrard took to the dugout that he had very much taken a leaf out of Rodgers book when it came to coaching.
The managerial suit
Plenty of hype was made of Gerrard heading to Rangers – not only to make his first foray into senior management, but also in taking on Rodgers and the might of Celtic.
Under his rule at Parkhead, Celtic had become not just an impressive outfit, but a truly formidable, all-dominant side.
It speaks volumes of Gerrard’s ability therefore that he was able to chip away at said dominance during Rodgers’ time in charge, before he departed for the King Power stadium.
Gerrard didn’t shirk responsibility when taking to senior management and grew into the role
In his absence Celtic were waning, and Gerrard didn’t need a second opportunity to capitalise.
With Rodgers out of the way, Gerrard restored Rangers to their perch and earned cult status as a result. Indeed, his recent departure from Ibrox was not greeted nearly as badly as Rodgers leaving Celtic.
During his time in Glasgow Rodgers had regularly talked up his love of Celtic, from supporting the club as a boy in Ireland to following their results keenly during his busy career in management.
Rodgers laid it on thick, painting Celtic as his dream job and the ultimate destination. Perhaps many believed him, and thus felt blindsided by his switch to Leicester at the first opportunity.
Rodgers used his success at Celtic to take another crack at the Premier League with Leicester
Gerrard however set his stall out from day one. He showed both respect to the Rangers badge and the difficulties of Scottish football, while all the time making no secret of his ambition to one day try his abilities in the Premier League.
A quiet understanding existed between manager and fans, even though many perhaps still did not expect him to jump ship mid-season.
Given Rodgers left Celtic just as Gerrard was getting going over at Ibrox, the two men met in the dugout on just two occasions.
Cameras buzzed back and forth across Rodgers and Gerrard as they met on for their first Old Firm derby in September 2018.
Rodgers dressed with a trim of Celtic green and Gerrard likewise sported his Rangers tie; the scene was set.
After a handshake and a brief exchange, it quickly became clear Gerrard was very mindful of not being seen as the new kid on the block, hoping to simply exchange a few jabs with his once mentor.
Of their two meetings in Scottish football both managers took a victory apiece with 1-0 wins
He was here to be taken seriously and Rangers and Gerrard had come to win. They battled valiantly, but would ultimately lose out by a slender 1-0 scoreline.
Rodgers left a relieved man but knew Gerrard had not arrived in Scottish football simply to take part. Rangers, despite their limited funds, were already looking like a better coached and more hungry outfit.
A couple of months later, just after Christmas, the two sides would meet again. This time Gerrard emerged on top.
Another tight 1-0 scoreline played out, this time in favour of the men in blue. Gerrard’s Rangers were praised for their tireless pressing, ball retention and willingness to turn on the counter.
Gerrard’s Rangers were praised for their tireless pressing and ball retention against Celtic
The warning signs were there for Rodgers, but soon enough it wouldn’t matter. Initial links with the Arsenal job had sprouted weeks earlier, yet in the new year Leicester would come knocking following the dismissal of Claude Puel.
The heavily billed Rodgers-Gerrard rivalry was over… for now.
Premier League pressures
Considering Rodgers was recently heavily touted to become the next Manchester United manager, the pressure has actually been cranking up.
His Leicester side have been in an indifferent spell of form of late, with plenty of inconsistent results rolling in.
A big victory one weekend has often been offset with a poor defeat thereafter, with constant struggles on the road in European action.
Gerrard took wins from his first two Villa matches before narrowly losing to Pep Guardiola
Rodgers at present actually sits at the top end of the pile of managers who are favourite to next be relieved of their duties, according to the bookies.
While the pressure is undoubtedly on for Rodgers to repackage Leicester into a tricky and resilient side once again, things are rather contrasting for Gerrard.
The Premier League icon has experienced a nice little upturn at Villa since taking over from Dean Smith, and has already breathed new life into the club.
Victories over Brighton and Crystal Palace immediately put Gerrard in great standing, before his new side went toe-to-toe with Manchester City and almost emerged unscathed.
Pep Guardiola’s men took a 2-1 win from Villa Park, though Gerrard and his men were widely credited with the fight they put up.
Rodgers was the final manager Gerrard played under as his Liverpool career came to an end
Now, the former Liverpool stalwart has the chance to make life especially tough for his old manager.
Gerrard has on multiple occasions revealed he draws inspiration for his coaching from his former leaders, including Rodgers alongside the likes of Rafa Benitez and Gerard Houllier.
Now, in the latest instalment of pupil versus master, Gerrard could once again remind Rodgers why the new era of managers really are something to be feared.