Brendan Rodgers took Celtic back to pre-season training this week, and gave a series of media interviews that were pretty eye—opening. In one of them, he made it clear that he has the mandate to bring top players to Celtic Park, and the authority to make them better deals than any manager of the club has been able to since Martin O’Neill.
Long time readers will know that the so-called “wage structure” at Celtic Park is one of my bugbears. It’s always been a needless and stupid idea, and one that has seriously limited the club’s ambition and scope.
Does a team playing in Scotland need a wage ceiling?
Of course we do, as any club playing anywhere does, and the notion that we should ever pay a footballer north of £50,000 a week, hailing from this city and with of our history, is ludicrous. No player is worth that kind of money and that some regularly earn four or five times that is scandalous and proof positive that somewhere our game has lost its moral bearings.
But those players who bring something different, something special, to a team deserve special recompense as a result. The oft-stated view that if you “break the wage structure” that you’ll have players “banging on the manager’s door” is, and has always been, frankly bollocks. If Celtic went out tomorrow and brought in Joe Allen on £40,000 a week that would confer no special rights on Scott Allan to demand the same; that’s not how the market works, and those who propagate this “wage structure” nonsense know that full well.
“Other players will be unhappy,” is the other stated reason. Maybe they will be, but there’s a simple answer to that too. Get better. If they prove they are worth it they’ll be paid the same. Otherwise they should shut up and get on with earning what they do get.
Top players are worth more, so they get more. It doesn’t give Stefan Johansen the right to demand wage parity. No-one else would pay him such enormous sums for the little he’s delivered in a Celtic shirt these past years. Why should we? Paying a footballer more money never made him a better player. It simply made him a richer one.
Brendan Rodgers was not brought in to continue the failed policies of the past. He was brought in to deliver us Champions League football and take us into the future. He knows we need quality signings; the age of “projects” is over with, which isn’t to say we can’t or won’t sign young players with a view to bringing them on. It simply means that we’ll be building the team around a core of well paid, top players who can take us to the next level.
Allen is one such player. If we really are interested in him then I consider that pretty exciting stuff. So too is the news that we’re after Scott Sinclair, a fantastic player who has stalled due to the tendency of English clubs to spend obscene amounts of money in “squad building” instead of nurturing some of the fantastic young talent they already have. Sinclair has been a victim of that, possibly through bad career choices in moving to Chelsea and Manchester City at a time when both were overloaded with top players. His development definitely suffered, but Brendan Rodgers got the best out of him and I have no doubt he could do so again.
Brendan’s appointment was the first sign that the balance of power had shifted at Celtic Park, away from those who would take a parsimonious approach to things and put “resale value” in front of considerations over what would be best for the team and towards a more ambitious project, with much grander objectives in mind.
One man has control of football operations at Celtic Park, and it isn’t the CEO.
The power is back where it belongs, in the manager’s office.
Now, let’s see how he uses it.