Brendan Rodgers says he remains loyal to Watford and claims those who continue to ask whether he will become the next Reading manager are questioning his integrity.
Rodgers remains favourite to take over at his adopted home-town club following Steve Coppell’s resignation last week, but has not applied for the Royals post and Hornets chief executive Julian Winter has confirmed they have not received any approach from Reading.
It seemed as though Rodgers was set to leave Vicarage Road last week when bookmakers’ odds on him taking over at the Madejski Stadium were slashed from 16/1 to 1/3, but they have since levelled out and he is back at evens with Victor Chandler.
However, the Northern Irishman again stated he is only concentrating on Watford and feels uncomfortable talking about managerial positions at other clubs.
He said: “When I am asked about other clubs, people are questioning my integrity and one thing I have mentioned is I always have integrity.
“I am loyal and find it disloyal when I am asked about other clubs when I am the Watford manager. There is nothing that has changed in that respect.
“I have seen the papers and know I am favourite for the job but that will always happen in football and, in fact, my job was linked with someone else this year.
“I cannot let that speculation hamper my focus or objectives. It doesn’t concern me.
“What concerns me is that I am the manager here and that has been my focus right the way through.
“When I woke up this morning I was planning for Watford.”
Rodgers was always going to be linked with the Reading job as he has lived in the town since he signed for the club as a teenager and worked his way through the coaching ranks before becoming Academy director.
He still has a good relationship with chairman John Madejski and is friends with the man in charge of appointing the next Royals boss – director of football Nick Hammond.
More than 100 people have applied for the job and Reading have already started interviewing possible replacements.
Hammond has said there are currently no clear candidates but expects the list to be shortened quickly, although an announcement is not expected before the end of next week.
Winter says “there has been no contact at all” from Reading and last week chairman Jimmy Russo questioned why Rodgers would want to make the “sideways” move.
It has been an eventful six months for Rodgers since he took over from Aidy Boothroyd, with the two men who brought him to Vicarage Road – chairman Graham Simpson and chief executive Mark Ashton – both leaving within two weeks of his appointment.
Despite numerous changes off the field, the 36-year-old guided the Hornets to a 13th-place finish in the Championship.
But next season is sure to be another tough campaign as the new board continue to restructure the club’s finances due to the loss of the Premier League parachute payments.
Rodgers is keen to be in the top half of the table next season and eventually guide the club into the Premier League but knows it is going to be a tough ask in the coming years.
He said: “Of course I am very ambitious and I said when I came into the club that my long-term objective is to work at Champions League level so I have made no bones about that.
“But I have really enjoyed my six months at Watford and a lot of hard work has been done to stabalise the club.
“There is a lot of work to do in the future because the next number of years will be very difficult financially.
“The idea is to stabalize the club but in the course of the next three or four years, the brutal honesty is there is not a lot of money to spend on players if we do not get a major investor.
“Jimmy and Vince Russo have been doing a great job, as are other people at the club, but there isn’t a lot of money.
“However it is a fantastic club and I have really enjoyed and continue to enjoy my time at this club.”