The media narrative over the new manager is being laid out for us all to see before a ball is even kicked, and isn’t it amusing?
Brendan Rodgers “failed” at Liverpool.
The same is being discussed on Sevco forums where they’ve conveniently forgotten that their own boss arrived in Scotland with less than two years coaching experience and not a single honour or award to his name.
It makes me smile. It actually makes me laugh.
Brendan Rodgers almost won the Premiership title.
Some will scoff at that and highlight the “almost” part of it, but what he managed with that Liverpool team was astonishing.
Much has been focussed on the part Luis Suarez played in it all; without a doubt, the firebrand Uruguayan was brilliant to watch and could have elevated any team, but he was one cog in the big wheel Rodgers got rolling. In fact it was Steven Gerrard, who Rodgers inspired to some of his finest performances in his career, who was the real engine of the team that went so close. He clearly intends to try to do the same with our own Scott Brown.
He took over Liverpool when the team had finished 8th in the league the season before.
He got them to 7th in his first year.
That’s a better achievement than it sounds.
He had a team to rebuild, but the way he did it is what’s interesting. Much is made of the millions he spent, but he did that in three and some terms in a league where other managers have spent it in one and still not scaled the heights; Louis Van Gaal is a case in point.
Before you look at it with the critical eye you have to remember what the Premiership is now.
Leicester’s miracle isn’t called that for nothing; this is a league that for decades has been dominated by three enormous clubs, of which Liverpool isn’t one. Two from London – Arsenal and Chelsea – and one from Manchester.
The wealth of these clubs was, and is, obscene even in comparison to other teams in the league.
The balance has been tilted even further with the big money and growing ambition of Tottenham, who have become a top class team determined to scale heights their club hasn’t touched in decades. They came within a few games of taking the Premiership dream from Leicester, and played arguably the best football in the EPL last year.
And all this is to say nothing for Manchester City, a club which has “wealth off the radar” and which has already cemented its position as one of the top clubs in the land, actually knocking its rivals Manchester United out of the picture.
Liverpool has never grown like these clubs, even with its wealthy owners.
It fell from being one of the top clubs in England, twenty years ago, to where it’s challenged for the title three times in the last three decades. Twice under Rafa Benitez, and once under Rodgers. Rafa is feted as a hero on Anfield; he won a slew of trophies, including European honours, so it’s wholly justified.
Rodgers is the Nearly Man, the guy who almost got them home.
I am not in the least bit concerned by his “lack of success”, or what the media perceives that to be.
In the toughest league environment in world football his teams played exceptionally well and he won enough plaudits at Swansea to be trusted with the Anfield role in the first place. They are a family club, like us, a giant in world football even if they’ve suffered ignominy at home for the past while. The manager’s job there is a sacred trust, like the one at Celtic Park. He deserved better than the treatment he got there.
He’s a better man – and a better boss – than that.
So what can we expect from him at Celtic? Well his teams at Swansea and Liverpool were famous for their attacking football. The number of goals they scored was extraordinary. The entire Rodgers philosophy is based on the kind Celtic fans are used to.
His teams were also famous for the way his lineups mixed and matched tactical styles.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to this.
Some fans believe a team needs stability; the constant chopping and changing last season annoyed them.
The others believe that you approach games against teams based on their strengths and weaknesses and that always involves mixing it up a bit.
I believe they are the ones who’re right.
Rodgers is one of those managers who changes things based on the opposition. Whereas Deila’s issue appeared rooted in some kind of performance stats led system, the Irishman believes in the tools to fit the job.
If a game calls for an all out attacking system he picks his tactics accordingly.
But if it requires a little more circumspection, a more balanced approach, well he has a tactical system for that too.
I like bosses who have a Plan A, B and C. It’s what Ronny never had, and Rodgers has played every system from three at the back to three men upfront.
Three men upfront by God! Imagine that!
What else do we know about Brendan? Well he liked to give youth a chance. He worked with a lot of great young players at Liverpool, and he gave them starting berths in the first team. This is great news for players like Jack Aitchison, for Aiden Nesbitt, for Ryan Christie.
He’s a believer that when you are good enough you’re old enough, and he doesn’t just talk a good game on that score like so many others do.
I am excited about this for all the reasons I’ve said before and many others. This guy just gets it; he gets what this club is all about and already he’s said that he’s not interested in using Celtic as some kind of “stepping stone” back to the EPL. He’s here, as I predicted, for the long haul, to make history, to build a lasting monument.
He almost did it at Anfield. I have no doubts he’ll do it here. The media can write what they like; it’s wishful thinking, born out of fear. Yesterday I was down at Celtic Park with my old man and the ticket office had a big queue outside of it. That’s a measure of how the Celtic fans view this appointment, that and the 12,000 of them who turned up to greet him at his unveiling on Monday. We know what we think of this guy. We’re not going to be swayed by the bitterness of the hacks.
This is the club he was born to manage.
This is a perfect fit.