Imagine we lived in a football environment where credit went to the people that truly deserve it, instead of one where Peter Lawwell is hailed as the genius behind Celtic’s march to nine in a row. Who would be the unsung hero of that era, the one that ended with a Quadruple Treble but also us falling short of the holy grail of ten in a row?
Most Celtic fans already know the answer; it’s Ronny Deila, which is why I was delighted to hear Callum give him the full credit for his own transformation as a player, and the status as a one of the driving forces behind the success Rodgers enjoyed.
It was Ronny who raised our standards, Ronny who insisted on the “24/7 athlete” mentality, Ronny who finally broke us free of that West of Scotland lifestyle, although it had been obvious for years that it was not appropriate for professional footballers.
Without the work Ronny did, Rodgers could never have hit the ground running but would have faced a marathon task to get the team up to the standards he wanted. As Callum pointed out today, Rodgers himself has publicly acknowledged that debt.
What we did in appointing Lennon was utterly inexplicable. It reversed more than five years of work in building that professionalism and those ideas. It took another year for the fall in those standards to cause catastrophe, but the slide would have started well before that.
What’s evident is that McGregor sees a little of Ronny and a lot of Rodgers in the new man at the helm and it’s clear that he’s going to buy in completely, as he did with Ronny initially. He understood exactly what Deila was trying to do and not only fully supported it but threw himself into it in a way that most certainly changed his own career trajectory.
McGregor could play for any team in the EPL today, and I’m delighted that he wants to be here. His commitment to excellence and to fitness and high standards is why he has played as many games as any player in Europe these past few years without breaking down.
His example is the one every player in our team should aspire to. And he got it from the Norwegian, a man I was as disappointed for as anyone when we didn’t secure the ten because he fully deserved to be at Celtic Park on that day, taking his deserved bow.