Sevco fan sites burn with various crazy theories, as I’m sure you’re all well aware. The ones about us not having a great team, about certain players being grossly over-rated, the belittling of our achievements these past few years and others.
My favourite is the “Brendan Rodgers doesn’t cope with pressure” theory.
Where the Hell did that come from, and is there any proof of it?
It comes, of course, from Liverpool when his team appeared to be on the way to a league title and blew it. Was that his fault? Sevco sites seem to think that it was. But actually, it was the fault of a certain other person; their incoming manager. It was his colossal mistake that allowed Mourinho to dance around Anfield like a conquering hero. Brendan was left trying to rebuild the morale of a shattered team in very short order. It was an impossible task.
Aside from that, there’s no evidence to support the idea at all.
In fact, there’s a wealth of it which points to exactly the opposite. At Celtic, Brendan Rodgers has thrived in high pressure situations. It’s when his managerial skills show themselves up best. To ignore that is to be in wilful denial.
It suits Celtic for people inside Ibrox to believe this. It’s clear that some of them do.
King’s comments about how Celtic would collapse “like a house of cards” if they managed just one title reveals a contempt for us that ignores objective fact. They think everyone at Celtic would cave in under pressure; it has never dawned on them to imagine otherwise.
Pressure comes in many forms, of course. But when the chips are down this Celtic side, and this Celtic manager, rallies under it. Look at our record at Hampden for an example. Under Neil Lennon it was almost as if Celtic were afraid of the National Stadium. We underachieved there with a depressing frequency. Under Ronny the pressure of the place got to us over and over again. Brendan has been there eight times … and won every single match.
He’s also been at Ibrox four times and won the lot, including the 3-2 game where we came back from behind twice and deservedly triumphed with ten men on the park, after his cool, calm thinking after Simo was sent off turned the match on its head. We went into that game hearing all manner of media nonsense about a victory for the home team would spark a title revival. Talk about trying to turn up the heat under a manager.
Who was still standing at the end of it? Brendan was. Murty had begun his long, slow slide into despair. The sack was looming from that day forward.
In fact, and this should scare people who want to take our crown more than it does, we have won every single high pressure match we’ve faced since he arrived, but for Anderlecht at Celtic Park which was a washout I still struggle to completely understand.
Some of our other European games show Brendan reacting well to pressure. In Israel the season before last he realised on the touchline that the game needed to be closed out. His tactical changes that night stopped the bleeding. He did the same in Astana. In Rosenborg we went there needing a win, and we got one.
This man has proved that he can be brilliant under the white hot lights.
Everything we’ve achieved in Scotland – winning six trophies out of six, an unbeaten domestic campaign, Champions League qualification two years in a row – suggests that Brendan Rodgers loves pressure. That he is at his best when the heat is on.
Sevco fans cling to the delusional that Steven Gerrard will put him under the sort that will send him scurrying back to England. Like much else they believe in, there’s nothing to support but their own blind hope, not to mention their blind hate.