As Rodgers Returns To Celtic, Perhaps Our Fans Need To Adjust To A New Reality.

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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:

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  • Peter Cassidy says:

    Rodgers is a wealthy man”was on around 8/10 million per year at his last job has a very large property portfolio in the north west England now a nice contract at Celtic so money really should not really matter to him. Unless he is very greedy more his ego I would suspect if he gets a offer if he is successful at Celtic and a big if not a given time will tell.

  • Johnno says:

    Would say it’s more important for celtic to be forming a core of players that can be regarded as long term, moreso than a manager imo Matthew.
    Easier said than done, especially with the riches on offer elsewhere, especially within the EPL.
    The likes of a calmac and Forrest are not going to be easy to find in this day and age, yet there’s still a demand for getting and keeping players who are going to play at there highest available limit at a club like ourselves.
    We will always have that ability to attract very promising talent, but can outgrow the club very quickly also in money term’s, and not much any manager will be able to do about that.
    We already got a decent core, but how many within the current squad will be here for the next 3 year’s and the duration of Rodgers contact currently?
    Maybe 5 or 6 at best, but hopefully that can grow to your 10 to 12 to maintain the stability that success in European football is built upon.
    This format of creating decent teams, but not long enough together to gain European success has to change as long overdue.
    Next season is the 1st time in a very long time that we should be able to build upon a foundation that was built last season and needs to continue into the future and hopefully without such a high turn around in players, that has cost us dearly over the past number of seasons with depending on certain individuals to much, including a manager

  • Jim says:

    Nope, with respect, I think you are totally wrong Matthew.

    Obviously you need a good infrastructure that persists no matter who the manager is, but it has been amateurs installing institutionalised mediocrity above the head of the manager that has put a ceiling on Celtic’s success down the years. This is what Directors of Football do, or people with heated driveways who act as if they are.

    The managers who have been able to assert themselves and have total control of the who and when of recruitment, subject only to budgetary contraints, like Jock Stein, Martin O’Neil and Ange, have been extremely successful. Ferguson at Man Utd is another example.

    When it comes to the first team, the only continuity that matters is you appoint the very best manager available – and let him get on with the job.

  • Peterbrady says:

    I will bet anyone any amount who goes first the fake Greek bearing gifts or cockney wanker are out by Halloween

  • Amcq14 says:

    As fans we have to stop this adulation of managers, it’s a job to them, whether they do it right or not doesn’t matter they are paid the same( no matter how significantly more) as me and you in our workplace, to do that job. How many of us look for promotion, enough said. Football is a business, we have to remember that.

  • Bob (original) says:

    Good article.

    Totally agree that NOW the Board should be future-proofing the organisation structure,

    and maybe formalise succession planning…?

    But, the potential stumbling block is that we still have DD & PL involved,

    and in the last 2 decades they haven’t addressed these ongoing issues?

  • Pcelt says:

    The major grievance with ange leaving was all the badge slapping and I’ll be here as long as I’m wanted cr*p he was coming out with when he knew he would be off as soon as a epl offer came in.

  • Jamie D says:

    The idea of having a DOF is all very well, as long as he and the manager are singing from the same hymn sheet. Surely conversations take place on a regular basis where it is discussed as to what positions require strengthening. The DOF should then present the manager with several options in these positions and the manager should then decide who is best suited to his style of play. Also cost comes into play, as there is no point in the DOF suggesting players if their club are looking for top dollar. If both manager and DOF have giant egos then this could be a recipe for disaster.

  • Michael Clark says:

    It’s pretty obvious any manager that’s successful at Celtic will get touted down South. Just look at the managerial merry go round in the English Premiership. Only one club can win the league but if they don’t succeed their fired. Manager’s are no different from players, their all mercenaries chasing the big money. This makes it difficult for Celtic on and off the pitch.

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