I love Brendan Rodgers. I really do. The guy has remade Celtic into something that doesn’t just work but that works frighteningly well, like a well-oiled machine. The mood of the whole club has been utterly transformed under him.
But he is a ruthless man. Boy oh boy, he is.
Brendan doesn’t play favourites. Our forty goal striker was told early that he’d have to adapt his game to playing out wide. He has to fight to get into the team. Our midfielders were shaken up and told to improve. Defenders who seemed like they must have blackmail material on previous bosses so often were they in the side – against all logic – have been jettisoned. Craig Gordon made mistakes in a couple of games and the manager instantly signed a rival … and put him straight into the team.
Rodgers is a hard man. A genuine leader. I am glad for that.
But that ruthlessness has resulted in Kris Commons time at Celtic Park coming to an end in a way that puzzles and confuses and even annoys a lot of our fans. Kris has been a tremendous servant to us, and a lot of folks thought he deserved a proper goodbye. A man so close to the 100 goal mark and a permanent place in our history was entitled to expect more.
I say “expect” more. I didn’t say he was entitled to more. That’s the manager’s call, and part of me understands why Brendan did it, at least why I think he did. Brendan is probably somewhat troubled by what happened that night in Malmo. This is speculation, but a lot of managers would never have played Commons again after that. Ronny did.
Ronny is a good man, and not as ruthless as Brendan. Brendan is also a good man, but he places a high premium on respect. You’ve seen it a couple of times already; the reporter who’s throat he jumped down on the day Moussa scored a hat-trick against Sevco and he was asked “Leigh who ?” or the way he stood up for his staff when McGhee had his rant.
Brendan believes in respect. In giving it and getting it and he frowns upon those who don’t. Maybe he thought Kris didn’t show the appropriate respect to Ronny or Collins and wanted to drive home the point about who was the boss. Kris has also been injured for many months, but that didn’t stand in the way of Gary Mackay Steven who, with all due respect to him, hasn’t given us a microbe of what Commons delivered in a Celtic shirt.
Kris would have loved a proper send off, even a subs appearance where he would get a chance to score one last Celtic goal. I long since gave up on ever seeing him score 100 – that will now fall to the guy I always thought it would, to Leigh Griffiths himself, facing a battle to get in the team which will get easier the more he does what he did in midweek – but it would have been great to see him score a final one, in front of the Celtic supporters.
To a lot of Celtic fans what happened in Malmo was that Kris showed passion they’d wanted to see elsewhere on the pitch and at the club. Indeed, Kris never gave less than 100% when he was out on the field. It’s not for nothing that he was such a huge favourite with the fans.
Kris will do well at Hibs. He will do splendidly well. I am glad for him and for his good lady that they’re staying in Scotland and that he’s at a club where he and the manager get on and the fans will afford him the proper welcome.
I would not change what’s happened here. I don’t know that he would have fitted into Brendan’s team or his style. It might have been costly to find out. When we’re playing this well you don’t second guess the boss on anything.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t have regrets about how this has turned out. Kris deserved to take a final bow and the fans would have liked to give him a proper send off and say thank you for many good years of service and a lot of goals.
I wish him well, as I’m sure all of us do.
The manager has spoken. Wow. It’s cold blooded, but we missed that in recent years and it’s not something I’m going to complain about. But Kris deserves our thanks and yes, our respect. I suspect we’ll be seeing him again. I’d like to think so.
In the meantime, we have business to attend to today …
In Brendan We Trust.