If Rodgers Gets The Gig People Inside Celtic Need To Remember Whose Interests They Serve.

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“I have taken from my party everything it thought it believed in … what keeps it together is success. Success and power.” – Tony Blair to Paddy Ashdown.

If, as some believe is likely, Celtic are about to re-appoint Brendan Rodgers as manager, that is obviously an earth-shaking decision which will reverberate through our fan-base, our club and the wider Scottish game.

My own feelings on it were put into words last night for the first time since I first heard these stories … and that predates the departure of our previous boss.

I first properly discussed them amongst my friends over a month ago, when the Spurs story firmed up and I heard the first whisperings on a Rodgers return. The way I saw it then, and now, is that a lot of things have to fall into place before that appointment can happen, and I still think so which is why I don’t yet write about this as if it was a certainty.

First, Rodgers would need to be convinced that returning is a good idea. Dissuade yourself of any notions that he particularly cares what the fans think. This guy believes in himself to a mind-bending degree and at the back of his mind has always been the suspicion that if he needed to turn us around, for whatever purpose, that he could do that.

Rodgers knows our fan-base well enough to know, as Tony Blair did when he made that notorious quip to Ashdown that “success and power” can cover a multitude of sins. We want to continue being the biggest club in this country and to build on that foundation. Most of us are smart enough to realise that a rookie appointment would put that at risk.

And yet there are people inside Celtic Park who are so sure of themselves that they would countenance that. However this goes, a large part of the Celtic fan-base is going to feel thoroughly pissed off by whatever choice is made here … the thing is, those inside the club will expect the rest of us to live with it and keep putting the money up.

Which almost all of will do, of course, because we care about Celtic. My suggestion, and the point of this piece, is that others remember their own responsibilities and set aside whatever ill feelings or ancient grudges they might hold and do the same.

Rodgers will return only if he believes that there will be no interference from certain quarters. I have no doubt that he could, and would, have been at Celtic Park a lot longer than he stayed had he been given the sort of control that Ange Postecoglou had. One of the things being held against Rodgers is his record in the transfer market but we know full damned well that some of those signings were not his at all, and this was a big part of what went wrong.

You only have to look at those final two windows to see where his anger and frustration came from. He wanted McGinn and when we didn’t get him we signed the free transfer footballer Yousef Mulumba. No-one will ever convince me that this was Rodgers’ idea. He openly scorned the signing of Maryan Shved. He had done the same a year before with Daniel Arzani; he clearly believed that the notion of us developing players for The City Group was not on.

It is not for nothing that this site and others had taken to referring to Peter Lawwell as “the unofficial director of football.” You’ve seen how much more smoothly the business of signing players goes now that he’s no longer in charge of that.

The imminent signing of Odin Thiago Holm ably demonstrates the new pace at which we operate; he was identified and signed off on by Postecoglou before he left, and it is virtually certain that the final rubber stamp for this deal was given by whoever the incoming boss is. We don’t mess about anymore. We get on with our business in the right manner now.

Most important, the football professionals are the people who are trusted to make those decisions. If Rodgers comes back, be sure that he has been given those sorts of assurances. He would not be returning to our club without them, it’s as simple as that. This is a man who chafes at those above his head interfering in this stuff … it would be a positive sign that things at our club really have changed, and for the better, if he can be convinced to return.

Still, others will have to be convinced to behave should he end up back in the building. It is comforting to read that he and Nicholson are close. It is equally obvious that Desmond cares a great deal about getting him here and that man is nobody’s fool either. There are giant egos at Celtic Park which will need to be tamed here … but that’s true of any big club.

If certain people in the boardroom are not convinced by the merits of this deal then too bad. If Rodgers accepts, they will have to get behind it just as the fans who aren’t convinced by Rodgers or by Maresca or whoever will have to row in behind the guy, even if reluctantly. We, the fans, can only influence so much … it is those inside Parkhead who can make or break things for a new manager, and all involved should bear that in mind, and put their egos aside.

When Ange Postecoglou was appointed a lot of us held the not unrealistic fear that we had hired a yes man and that the club would treat him as it had others. But whilst I believed that appointment was a lunatic risk to take what I cannot fault Celtic for in any way, shape or form is that we did not mess the guy about at all but allowed him the authority and the resources to shape the club in the manner of his own choosing. They made the call on him and then they backed that judgement in a big, big way and as good as he was in and of himself, that backing was critical to the success of the project. It will be the same with whoever is next.

So if it’s Rodgers, I don’t want to be hearing, and then writing, stories about pique in the boardroom, about disquiet behind the scenes. If the man wants something, he should be accommodated to the best of the club’s ability. He should get exactly the same power as Ange did, and carte blanche to decide on every aspect of the football operation.

It is said that when Rodgers and Lawwell had their initial falling out that Desmond got them both together, read them the riot act and reminded them both that they work for the betterment of the club, and that their egos were putting the club at risk. That one or both of them chose not to honour that most important principle is a clear matter of fact … if Rodgers comes back then something that was broken has been fixed. It is in the power of all those at the club to fix the rest of the relationship and put us on the proper footing for success.

There will be no chance of forgiveness for anyone who does not do that. Rodgers must commit to the role for a minimum period … and others must commit to giving him the backing they gave Ange Postecglou when he needs it, and for the rest of the time to just staying the Hell out of his way and letting him run things the way a manager is supposed to.

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  • Bob (original) says:


    The non-exec Chairman is going to have to walk around with a stick clenched in his mouth,

    or wearing a muzzle, to keep him in check! 🙂

  • John S says:

    The appointment of BR would seem the most pragmatic, given the other available proposed candidates. It would be two years, though, success or not.
    The City Group influence has worked well on a few occasions and poorly in others. Celtic must streamline their own recruitment policy in relation to both players and managers, maybe just fit a revolving door at the main entrance.

  • Thomas Campbell says:

    Very true i was having the same conversation with my friends, ther where a couple who disagree. I said what about Peter Lawell he is back at the club and was the main reason why Brendin left the club. He did not get the same backing as Angi.Get back to you when I show them your post.

  • Stesano says:

    If it’s not Brendan now it be big downer he the best since Jock Stein and by a mile! He miles ahead of the Aussie to and younger! Achieved way more in every sense than him to and he had real options always unlike the ” Aussie” that had his one and one through being at our great club , if we get Brendan losing that Aussie has been great! Just looking at the huns sites they shitting it and no wonder! A world record hun skelper and he did make the treble Treble! No one but him! A laugh we people say the huns were poor well in the March game in 2018 the ( Eddi 10 men game) there was only 6 points in it! Which has been better than every season bar ” the ghost league” year for “der hun”so that’s nonsense also, no more bs lawell was a massive part of him leaving and save us the Aussie stayed he left in a heartbeat at anytime believe that!

  • Pcelt says:

    Liewell should never have been brought back,he acts as if he owns the club and do everything he says,we would be better off without him.

  • Scout@1970 says:

    Hello that was a brilliant read,out of all the names that have been tossed about on who should be the next Celtic manager I hope it is Brendan Rodgers. HH.

  • Darren Kerr says:

    Every two years let’s keep switching from Ange to Rodger’s and Rodger’s to Ange each time they are sacked or hired by EPL clubs.

  • Roonsa says:

    It simply HAS to happen now. If it doesn’t, the press will be all over it like a bad rash. And the guy who does come in will be in the same situation that Ange was in when he started. We surely don’t want to put another manager through that even though things worked out for Ange. If Brendan knocks us back, it will be a massive blow – and that’s how the press will frame it. Plus lots more.

    At least it will keep you busy, James.

  • paul obrien says:

    I just hope Holm isn’t a Lawell project sneeked in the door already !!!

  • JimBhoy says:

    He is the best option for us and I hope he gets a set contract maybe 2 seasons and Broonie apprentice to take over in succession.

    Celtic have never really done succession planning but look back at Liverpool 60’s to the 90’s.

    Hope he gets the job and is allowed to add 3-4 players to the first team squad without interference. I suspect we may losae a couple and some fringe players also.


  • Mark B says:

    I would welcome him back because:
    1. We need a top quality manager and he is that.
    2 He was not backed last time and that is main reason he left.
    3. Hs record and style of play were terrific last time.
    I did not like how he left but he was undermined. In many ways for me his departure was more justified than Ange’s. Ange was backed fully and still left!
    If Lawell’s ego starts to appear he should be the one who is asked to leave. If I were Rodgers, I would make that a condition of accepting from Desmond. “If Lawell interferes back me or I am not taking the job or I will leave again.”

  • Thomas Macphee says:

    Always enjoy reading your stuff but cant help thinking back to what you wrote about ange begore he arrived you never gave him a hope

    • James Forrest says:

      You’re right, I didn’t. Big risk that appointment, but I was glad to be proved wrong.

  • Magua says:

    Good article, James. I for one, do not want BR back. If he returns as manager, I will be left with 2 options:

    1. Accept the fact as a fait accompli.


    2. Stop supporting the club that I have supported for over 50 years.

    While option 1 is not exactly appealing to me, option 2 is no option at all, and will never happen.

    Hail Hail.

  • Jackson says:

    Nail on head with all you say on Brendans return!

  • Jim Duffy says:

    Much as I would like Rogers back ,he is a good coach especially for the SPFL but my concern would be how we do in the CL, remember we took some hammerings under him , probably even worse than under postecoglou,I would like to see Celtic with a manager who could do a bit more in Europe, even in Europa League because I think CL is beyond us now.

  • brian cavanagh says:

    Brilliant analysis. At the end of the day is he the manager that can take Celtic to the next level and is there an alignment between the personal ambitions of Desmond, Nicholson and Dermot. As fans we want exciting and entertaining teams that win.End of. If Rogers can deliver it. Welcome back

  • Gerrard Duffin says:

    Surprised at Desmond get to Norway

  • John Gow says:

    It may have passed your exaggerated mind James but can u show me evidence where BR has ever criticised PL please. I keep hearing and seeing from many sources, like you, that PL and BR don’t get on but, personally, I have not seen any evidence of that from either. Neither of them has criticised each other. You are welcome to prove me wrong.

  • Eldraco says:

    I woke up feeling way down, the title of the piece cheered me up with a belly laugh no end. Nice work JF.

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