At last the nice guy façade has been laid aside.
At last Brendan Rodgers is shaking off the Nice Guy and cracking the whip.
Did you ever doubt it would happen?
Did you ever doubt that this man would eventually show his steel?
It could not have come at a better time.
Across the city, they have tried everything they know how in a bid to copy us. The Mooch is trying to be a nice guy to his players and not offer criticism because of what he sees us do. Now Rodgers is going on the offensive, and giving players stick even after we’ve won our first game; how long, do you reckon, until the Ibrox boss is doing the same?
But Celtic will be better off for this no matter what happens across town.
Rodgers has given the whole team a jolt by cracking down on casual indiscipline and by reminding everyone, no matter their level of talent, that the team comes first and he wants to see commitment.
That is what top managers do. They impose their own version of order.
He punished Bernabei for not showing up on time for training.
He needs to see a bit more from Hatate, and he’s made that clear … and although he did so after being asked a direct question, and the media has severely overblown his answer, there is still a message there for every player.
Rodgers said it himself; ““It’s not in my contract to play any player … it’s a new cycle, a new manager, and Reo has to prove himself.”
Good player though he may be, the simple fact is that Brendan Rodgers is the man now and his writ has to run. If he can be intimidated by the idea that he might upset a player then he’s not really in charge at all and he’s going to get walked all over.
Rodgers is too experienced to let that happen.
I said before the game last weekend that he would have to drop a key player just to demonstrate to the world that this was his team now, and Hatate was the one he chose to bench, and to give Turnbull a go.
Turnbull rewarded that faith.
Whilst there is no suggestion that Hatate is making trouble or anything behind the scenes, nor does he appear to haggling for a move, Rodgers needs to see some sign that he is fully onboard with the cause.
But he went out of his way to point out that there are “no red flags” with Reo or anyone else.
Rodgers simply wants people to know nobody is guaranteed to start.
The man is finally showing everyone that things aren’t going back to the way they were.
This is not a temporary change, this is real now, this Rodgers team and Rodgers’s vision which is getting put across. He has spelled it out “a new manager and a new cycle” and everyone has to be seeing the writing on the wall.
Bernabei will not be the last to mess up … nor the last to be punished for it.
But casual acts of indiscipline will pretty much end right away … he is making sure of that, and that means that the focus of champions is being reinforced. What a perfect response to last weekend’s results.
To work harder. To prepare better. To find more.
Rodgers has been very careful up until now to keep things on an even keel whilst he got settled in. But the disciplining and the enforcing of standards means that this man is now locked on course and the serious stuff is underway.
Woe betide anyone who tests him … and woe betide those in the media and elsewhere who presumed – wrongly – that this guy was going to come here and coast it, and follow the Ange blueprint prior to sodding off toe England at the first opportunity.
This man is not messing about. The boss is most definitely back.