One of the most difficult things to do is change an idea. With the departure of Ange and return of Rodgers, it’s clear that Celtic fans need to adjust to a new reality.
For generations, supporters saw the manager’s job as one of long term stability. From the club’s inception, there were only four managers for nine decades (Maley, McStay, McGrory and Stein).
In the 45 years since Jock Stein’s departure, things look very different. Since then, 15 men (across 18 appointments) have been Celtic boss. Brendan Rodgers’ return makes him the third boss to do so, after McNeill and Lennon.
An average length of managerial reign of two decades for the club’s first four managers is now an average stay of 2.5 years since then.
When it comes to players, fans understand this, especially in the modern game. Most of the standout stars of recent years – Dembele, Edouard and others – are never likely to hang around for much beyond three years.
However many supporters have perhaps laboured under the delusion that this is not the case with managers. Even after Rodgers’ departed so suddenly in 2019, still many clung to the idea that the man in the Parkhead hot seat would stay indefinitely.
That’s partly why Ange Postecoglou’s English move shocked so many people; they believed that Ange was somehow different and couldn’t be tempted away. It’s obvious now – if Rodgers’ 2019 actions hadn’t already shown this – that this isn’t the case.
Whilst nothing is ever guaranteed, it’s unlikely we will again see long-term managers at Celtic, certainly much beyond five years. And the days of decades in charge are obviously gone.
The only possible way this changes is if a former player with a long association with the club takes the job, someone who is content to stay as long as he is wanted.
Even if such a person exists (many might hope Scott Brown would be the man), it is still difficult to see. Domestic success alone will probably see the club eventually want a change, or the manager a new challenge.
And if there was than just domestic cheer – such as extended runs in Europe or even a trophy – that would also surely see the jobholder given the chance to move on to a higher league, if not higher level in terms of club stature.
So what does this mean for Celtic?
The obvious issue is the need for a stronger structure at the club where the manager is not an all-dominant figure. Ange’s controlling influence was positive when he was here, but raises questions when he is gone. The same is true with Rodgers, another big personality.
Celtic need a structure which ensures a manager departure is not a catastrophe that requires a complete re-start on the first team squad, and wider issues too.
A Director of Football who oversees – amongst other things – a Head of Recruitment and largely fixed coaching staff is essential. Most coaches will want to bring in some of their own staff, but it cannot be one based on wholesale change – or departures if the manager moves on.
For now though, Brendan is back.
Regardless of fan views – and by and large, most seem supportive of the move – the most important thing going forward is the club. Building on Ange’s success, but also seeing European progress, is the main desire.
Trophies tend to cover up a lot of ills.
If Rodgers brings quick success – and exciting Champions League nights – then surely all will be forgiven. Anything like his phenomenal record of last time will see many of the old songbooks dusted off.
But either way, the club should already be thinking about who will replace him, and what structures they will need to deliver the best success.
Managers come and go; it’s always the club that goes on. And, of course, the fans.
Matthew Marr is a regular contributor to this blog. He tweets at @hailhailhistory. Matthew has recently published his first book, which tells the tale of Celtic’s first ever league title.
It can be bought online from The Celtic Star at: https://celticstarbooks.com/product/the-bould-bhoys-glory-to-their-name-by-matthew-marr/