The last week has been a busy one on the blog, what with the Aberdeen win, referees giving us cause for concern, the SFA dragging its feet over Resolution 12, the bubbling crises at Sevco, the media and its continued, wilful, ignorance of the Close Brothers loan, the King verdict and the usual other stuff that fills the average week on here.
The point is, things always get missed in a week like that.
The story about Arsenal and their alleged short-list – on which our manager was named – didn’t get missed; I covered that in an article early on, where the amazing thing to me was that Mikael Arteta, who has never coached a single match for a single club anywhere in world football, was on the list.
Arsenal fans didn’t seem particularly bothered about that.
No, they saved their ire for Brendan Rodgers.
I read some of their articles in utter disbelief, for the shallow, mindless ignorance contained in them. Aside from the usual dismissal of Scottish football as having anything to offer the wider world, the snide waving aside of an unbeaten domestic campaign – not an unbeaten league campaign like the one Wegner won for them; we won two cups on top of it – and the examination of his European failures (without the corresponding acceptance of anything they said about Scottish football, the environment in which we play) there was bile.
And it was the bile I found hardest to understand.
I am used to us being sneered at by arrogant EPL fans, even those who might never see a league title again. They think they’re special, as a collective. I really don’t care how they look down their noses at us, just as I know that a club with our history would be a behemoth in that league and force clubs like Arsenal even further from the top of the pile.
The bile was so much like the nonsense spouted across town that it was hard to credit that these were rational people not ensconced in their own bubble of it. Brendan was “arrogant” and “full of himself”; an incredible assertion from fans of a London club whose manager these past 20 years is a Frenchman. Cause they are never arrogant, are they?
Imagine the brass neck it takes for preening EPL fans, peering down their noses at the perceived weakness of the game here, to be bothered about that? Imagine the complete lack of self-awareness that it takes? You have to laugh about it, I suppose.
Brendan is arrogant. I knew that before he arrived at Celtic Park. I saw that documentary about his time at Liverpool in which he was so enamoured with himself that the words “self-love” barely scratched the surface of it. Did I spend a second worrying about that? Why would I? The guy took Liverpool to within a hair of an EPL crown and he did it by getting his team to play the kind of blinding attacking football the Merseyside crowd responded to.
I cared about what he could bring to Celtic. It was obvious that he was a “box office” boss and that he would take us forward with purpose and he has. A domestic treble in his first campaign, without losing a single game here at home was above and beyond what any of us believed was possible.
Listen, they can tell themselves whatever they like down south about that not being an achievement; Arsenal fans should know above all what it takes and they never got to celebrate anything remotely like what we did last season.
One of their websites was filled with comments by people talking about how Sevco has “closed the gap.” What shite have they been listening to? Most of them have never watched a single match in our league, and feel they can pontificate on it by trotting out garbage like that? Do they realise that Celtic players have played more games than any other footballers in Europe in the last 12 months? Or that we had a dozen first team players out injured not that long ago? Or that Sevco’s so-called turnaround boss has dropped 17 points since taking over?
No, and they don’t care either.
Because I believe it when they say that Scottish football is an utter irrelevance to them. They are taking their cue from an ignorant media up here which regurgitates everything that comes out of Ibrox; Hell, you have to live it to understand it and they don’t.
None of that matters.
A lot of these folks have made up their minds about Brendan on the back of arbitrary bullshit like how he comes across on the telly. And in doing so they’ve made it clear to their board that he shouldn’t even be considered.
The arrogance of it. I do not believe Rodgers would move to Arsenal if they offered him the job, and they can kid themselves on that it’s because he’s in a comfort zone as they please. The guy loves life at Celtic Park; this is his club. Hard as it will be for them to believe, Brendan doesn’t just love Brendan. There’s plenty of room in his heart for other things and one of those other things is Celtic.
And you know what? Whatever stupidity they believe down there, we don’t want Brendan going anywhere, not for years. The so-called Sevco challenge is built on sand and will collapse long before this season ends. Our domestic dominance – built on solid foundations – will last for years. Once the manager gets in place the squad he wants we’ll see where we end up in Europe, but we’re realistic about that too and don’t chase fantasies.
Arsenal winning the Champions Cup is a fantasy, and one we don’t have to concern ourselves with for the sake of our sense of self.
We’ve already got ours.
But there is no divine right to win that competition from North London. It’s an illusion. Even a league title might be something beyond them, for many more years to come and the arrogance of dismissing Brendan because his achievements in Scotland don’t count is akin to the ingratitude many of them feel towards, and the unseemly haste to be rid of, the best manager their club has had in its history. Period.
That some of the sites which dismissed Brendan seem almost ready to embrace the idea of Arteta shows how stupid their judgement is; they’d turn down a proven boss to take a punt. Other names are a who’s-who of managerial bling; all style and no substance. Guys who have bought success but just as often spent fortunes on underachieving teams.
This is the limit of their imagination.
In the meantime, Brendan has made players who were at Celtic before he arrived better ones.
He’s polished some gems and turned at least one of them, Kieran Tierney, into a genuine European class player – who Arsenal, ironically, are interested in but who, like Brendan, is wedded to Celtic and cares about more than money and transitory nonsense.
Arsenal weren’t getting Brendan Rodgers whether they wanted him or not.
He’s committed to the project he’s started here – one that will last longer than the five-minute attention span of the average ungrateful, money-oriented EPL chairman. It’s one of the things he talks about a lot up here, as he surveys the managerial graveyard that league has become.
I believe Arsene Wegner will be gone at the end of the current campaign; Arsenal’s fans don’t want him any longer. I hope he gets the graceful exit his service deserves though. When we dispensed with Ronny Deila we allowed him the dignity to leave with another league winners medal and the sound of applause in his ears; I wonder if Arsenal fans will have the good grace to allow Wegner the dignity of the same. Reading some of their blogs I suspect not.
I would wish their next manager luck, but he won’t need it. Not as long as he looks good on telly, comes with a “reputation” and has the right colour hair.
Honest to God … a club whose fans choose their bosses based on such garbage deserves what it gets.
I don’t think that’ll be a proven winner.
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