There are things that most of us cannot lie to ourselves about.
There are things which are so clear that any effort to re-interpret them is just nonsensical, and requires an act akin to Orwellian doublethink. All of us have limits beyond which we can’t maintain self-denial any longer. I know some of our fans have to be close to the breaking point. The rest of us are well past that.
Listening to Brendan Rodgers right now requires no interpreter to make things clear. He’s speaking as plainly as I’ve ever heard a Celtic manager talk about the team and the squad and what it requires. Within the limits of what he can say to us in public, he’s skated not only up to the line but is now doing the circumference, riding that line every time he’s in front of the media.
He’s not talking to himself out there on that line. He’s not out there talking for the sake of opening his mouth. He’s not talking to us either, not entirely. He knows we’re listening, and it’s very important to him that we are, because the people he’s talking to are his bosses and he knows what they do not; we’re his real bosses and we’re theirs as well.
He’s talking to the board. He’s doing it in language then even those who want to believe that there are no splits, that everyone at Celtic is on the same page, must surely find it impossible to ignore. He’s not disguising his frustrations in any way, shape or form. He’s telling them that to succeed he needs them to deliver for him, and he’s telling us, indirectly, that he’s being handcuffed by the policy.
What’s his game here? He’s trying to bounce them. But he could be talking this same language behind the scenes, and might have been all along. Why’s he doing it public? Why is it the song he sings at just about every press conference? Does he just like talking about it?
He’s doing as well as could be expected, so he’s not fighting for his job or trying to lay the blame that will stop him from being sacked … he’s trying to bounce them, and the reason he’s talking this way in public is that he wants our help to do it. He wants us to know how pissed off he is, and he wants not only our understanding but our assistance.
He wants us to speak up. Loudly. Without us, this guy might be pissing in the wind. The board knows he won’t quit again, not if he wants to maintain any relationship with us at all, and they might be under the misapprehension that they can deny him what he requires and get away with it because what choice does he have but to accept it?
We’re his insurance policy. Listen, since I’m written from Rome let me put it in the imperial vernacular; we’re his Praetorian Guard.
We’re supposed to have his back, we’re supposed to watch out for him, aggressively, and make sure he knows he has the backing in the stands. Rodgers needs us and he needs us right now, and we need him because if a man like this can’t command enough respect in that boardroom can you even imagine the sort of Yes man we might get next?
We’re never going to progress under this one-note policy and you know what? We failed Rodgers the last time he was here. We didn’t do enough to fight for him and then when he got pissed off enough to leave we blamed him for it.
The more I watch this pattern repeat itself the clearer it becomes that we should never have allowed the board to get away with it. You see who we got to replace him. You saw the results. When this board thinks it holds all the cards this is how it plays them. We have had to push them to be better or deal with the results. We owe Rodgers.
It’s time we had his back. For our own sakes as much as for his. Once we’ve done that, we’ve given him the best hand he can play. From there on in, it’s up to him to play them well. Last night he sat in front of the media, yet again, and called out the transfer policy. He was talking to the board. But over their shoulder, that man was also addressing us.
We’re kidding ourselves to deny that one minute longer.