The Italian was sacked a week ago by the Black Cats.
Rodgers said: "Paolo tried to create a culture of work up there and a culture of devoting your life as a professional footballer.
"He's devoting his life to the game - and when you see other players not of the same mind, sometimes it can be difficult.
"I can see what his vision was and what he was trying to create.
"Players are very different now and the management of players is totally different now to what it was just 20 or even 15 years ago.
"You can still tell the players what you want but it is how you deliver the message that is so important now.
"It's just modern society. We were told to respect our elders and those people in authority - but now you have to debate and challenge it all and debate it.
"My daughter comes home from school and she just wants to debate all the time - they are taught to argue these days!"
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