James Forrest has become the second player in 24 hours to end uncertainty over his future by committing to a new deal at Celtic Park. Yesterday it was Tom Rogic, today the winger has given a definitive answer to those who doubted his commitment.
There have been rumours for weeks that Forrest was on the verge of this, and that what happened last season when he publicly rejected a new deal was grounded in issues other than money and time on the pitch.
I make no secret of my own anger at him over that, especially as his overall contribution to the team had deteriorated to the point where I thought offering him a contract extension in the first place had been generous at best.
But the question now has to be asked; was there more to James’ attitude issues and his refusal to sign a new deal than we first thought? With Rogic making the commitment yesterday and now James today, you have to ask yourself if there were other factors in play as to why they hadn’t before.
We’ve changed the management team … is it really that simple? Were there issues with the previous one, issues that made certain players question staying?
Rogic and Forrest are the two we know about, because their contract disputes had been made public by agents. But were there other players at Celtic Park thinking things over, or actually wanting to go, as a consequence of things happening inside the club?
The transformation in attitude is extraordinary. Suddenly people we thought had chucked it have reaffirmed their loyalty and their desire to fight for jerseys.
Time will tell if they prove worthy of it, but it’s now clear beyond further doubt that Brendan and his backroom team have had an extraordinary effect on the mood and morale of the club.
It seems unfair to blame – or to appear to blame – Ronny for this, but then he wasn’t the only person in the dugout, was he? Rodgers being allowed to choose his own assistant was the first major sign that this guy would be allowed full freedom to do things his way.
Whoever was responsible for forcing Collins on Ronny didn’t only undermine the boss himself but made a catastrophic error in judgement by imposing on the dressing room a figure capable of causing enormous disruption. Thankfully those same mistakes were not repeated.
Brendan has not just restored tactical flexibility and a sense of adventure to the team, but he and his people have quite plainly had a stabilising and healing influence on the dressing room.
Furthermore, the players have made it quite plain that they respect Brendan as a man and a manager and don’t question his ideas. At last we have a leader again.
Over the next few weeks I expect to see a real sea change in Forrest.
I’ve speculated offline that his future at Celtic – if he was to have one – might not necessarily be predicated on his playing as a winger; Brendan has already spotted that McGregor is no holding midfielder, and adapted his position accordingly. How long until he susses that Forrest lacks the ability to make that killer cross that would make him a decent winger?
That’s been the biggest criticism of his game for years, and I never cease to be amazed at how managers have stuck to the idea that this is his natural position to watch James play. Forrest has pace, great close control and an ability to spot an opportunity for goal.
In my mind he is, and has always been, a striker rather than a wide player. I fully expect our manager to arrive at a similar conclusion given time and the opportunity.
In the meantime, we can all be encouraged by what’s going on at Celtic. The Brendan Revolution is now in full swing, and there are more changes on the way.
In Brendan We Trust.
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