Celtic has never been a club renowned for doubling down, but then we’ve never been in a situation quite like this one before.
The road ahead of us is clear. We’re the biggest club in the country, an uncontested superpower, and now we’ve almost certainly achieved Champions League qualification for the second year straight. The rewards are enormous.
This is the time for doubling down, for trusting the manger, for giving him the resources he needs.
It’s been 12 months since we saw the first fruits blossom, with the 5-2 win over Hapoel, the first real proof that Brendan’s ideas were translating into something real, something that could be measured in trophies and riches.
Astana had come before, and we’d scraped by. I was glad we drew them this time; it was a chance to see how far we’ve come.
Answer; a long, long way.
Last night was just magnificent. It was as good a performance as I’ve seen us turn in for such a high profile game.
Neither Brendan nor the team let us down.
What a journey it has been.
There has been talk on some of the Sevco forums about how the “gamble” to hire Brendan paid off. They are barking. There was no gamble here. Brendan was an appointment right out of the top drawer, there was no risk to be had. The moment he was appointed morale at our club went through the roof. Fans flocked to buy season tickets and shirts. Players who wanted to leave decided they no longer did. It was a triumph.
Champions League qualification followed, as did the riches. An unbeaten domestic campaign meant that not a one of us went into the close season anything but delighted. £6 million has already been spent, on two players, and we’ve maintained almost the entirety of the first team squad.
We’re so far ahead in Scotland that it’s scary.
Last night’s result hints at what we might be capable of in Europe.
This is the time to double down.
No-one is talking about spending crazy money; one look at England is all you need to talk you right out of that. £50 million for Kyle Walker? Everton spending £45 million on Sigurdson? Come on, these people have lost their minds.
But get Roberts, bring in a central defender and a backup striker and we’ll be good to go.
We can afford to back this manager to the hilt, and we should because the Brendan Rodgers revolution has brought in tens of millions we might otherwise not have had. Brendan Rodgers has paid for himself. The value of aiming high has been laid out for everyone, this board included, to see in the most crystal clear fashion; big risk, big reward.
And that, as I said, is if you accept that it’s a risk in the first place.
I personally think we’re betting on a sure thing.
Qualify again next season, sell Dembele to one of those clubs floating around after him (if he wants to go; I personally would keep him here for as long as we didn’t have to tie him to something), and you could be talking about netting £120 million plus in the space of just three seasons … and that’s real money, that’s EPL style money, built around getting one key decision right and finding the best man for the job.
For the first time since we brought Martin to Celtic the club has shown the ambition commensurate with all the talk about how we see our place in the game. It’s time to make good on it. There will never be a better one.
Off the field we can lavish resources on the infrastructure projects like The Celtic Village, which will put more millions in the bank and bootstrap us into the next generation, one where our dominance in Scotland will be permanent and which will make us an attractive prospect for a future European league. At that point, it’s goodbye to this stifling environment, which in the meantime we can make better by reforming its structures and governance.
This is the strongest we’ve ever been.
It is not the strongest we’ll ever be.
That thought should be keeping our rivals, and our enemies, up at night.