The Italian was sacked as Black Cats manager last week after failing to win any of their first five games of the Premier League season.
"I'm sad for him because I can see what he was trying to do," Rodgers told reporters. "You can see his passion and professionalism; a perfectionist isn't the worst thing to be. I can see what his vision was, and what he was trying to create.
"Players are different now. The management of players is totally different to what it was 15 or 20 years ago. You can still tell them what you want, it's how you deliver it that's important."
Rodgers's side travel to the Stadium of Light to face rock-bottom Sunderland today.