The Celtic Manager Is Not His Predecessor. Yet He’s Expected To Work With His Team.

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Every three years or so, I start looking at the latest PC systems. I like my PC systems, and I like to go high end, because I’m a bit of a tech geek. This year, I bought a brand new one and the thing I enjoy most about that, aside from using it, is designing it based on my own grand design. There are plenty of websites which let you do this.

When I was on the Graham Spiers podcast earlier in the season, after our initial “slump” where we went out of the League Cup and looked to be floundering in the league, I used the analogy of building a PC to describe the way a manager builds a football team.

Now you can walk into a computer store and buy a pre-built machine, but unless you know what you’re looking for – exactly what you are looking for – the chances of getting something wrong multiply with every single thing you intended to use it for.

No-one should ever buy a PC on a whim unless they have a very clear understanding of what’s in the case and you know it matches what you are buying it to do.

Ange Postecoglou was the first Celtic manager since Martin O’Neill who was given total control over every single component that went into his case. He knew what he needed in every part of the team, and over the course of his first two windows he was able to tailor it to his very specific needs.

This Celtic team is his Celtic team, built to do what he wanted it to do. It was built to meet his very specific needs. It was based on fast, aggressive, attacking football which overloaded the opposition penalty box and gave them too much to think about. It is entirely possible – probable even – that our summer transfer policy was built around that concept.

It would have taken major incompetence on the part of our board not to have altered those plans based on changing the man in the dugout, but the simple truth of this is that they are guilty of staggering incompetence here regardless. The window did not work. It made no sense. Rodgers has barely used the signings. It was, and remains, a mess.

It was an expensive folly, like putting a water-cooling system and an LED lights system in a machine you’re essentially using as a glorified word processor. It’s not just overkill, it is wasteful. And no matter how much you pretty a machine like that up, it will never play high-end games if that’s not what it was built to do. This is where we are.

There are people who will say that Rodgers inherited a title winning team and should be able to do better with the players at his disposal and I believe that’s true, but he has taken over a team which is entirely different from the one he would have built and which doesn’t have the parts in it to do what he wants it to do yet.

Let’s take the most obvious example; what he calls “pace and power.” These might seem like qualities which would have fitted nicely into the Ange Postecoglou style, but actually Rodgers uses those words in a different way. When he talks about pace, for example, he is talking about across the whole team not just in those areas where Ange’s system requires them,

When he talks about power, he is talking about nothing less than sheer physical strength. Ange’s playing system didn’t bother with that; the decision to go with an advanced attacking 4-2-3-1, which was actually more like a 4-1-4-1, made it seem redundant. But if Rodgers wants to go for the famous “double pivot”, for example, with two defensive midfielders bringing solidity and winning the battle in the middle of the pitch, we don’t have the players for it.

Rodgers looks at our team and sees too many little guys. Too little strength. Too little aggression, players who, as he says, make the team overall look soft and occasionally weak. How many times have we talked about being bullied off the ball? About not having the players who are willing or able to mix it up a bit? Rodgers sees it, Rodgers hates it. Rodgers sees a custom-built rig which does a lot of fine things but which doesn’t suit his purposes at all.

January will be his first chance to do something about that. He has stripped the current rig down to its main parts and he knows what he has to work with. The motherboard – which we’d call the spine of the team – is essentially correct except for the keeper. But we have a good captain who plays in the middle, at least one top drawer centre back and a killer striker. That’s more than a lot of teams have, and we’ve got plenty of shiny technology built around that central engine.

But other components just won’t work at all. Nothing bottlenecks a good rig like the bad selection of parts. Too many people think if you need good graphics, you buy a top-of-the-line graphics card and you’re set. But if the rest of the system isn’t up to par you’ve most likely just wasted your money. You need a top-class processor to get the best out of a good card and you need blazing fast RAM to store and transfer the data or you’re basically wasting resources.

Imagine you have an easily bullied central midfield, albeit one that has technical ability. They can neither protect the defence nor get the ball to the advanced men because every time they have it someone is closing them down and taking it away from them.

It doesn’t matter how good a defender Gustaf Lagerbielke might be; if we’re playing a high line and he’s too slow to get back into position when we lose the ball, we either lose him or we lose the high line. Rodgers team looks slow; maybe it just looks that way because right now we have Luis Palma out wide left and other players in the team who can’t get up the park quick enough to exploit the quick counter attack. That’s a bottleneck right there.

And you know what? It might well be that this team has to lose Kyogo at some point in the coming summer, because maybe he fits into a Rodgers team and maybe he doesn’t, but he doesn’t check the box for power on which Rodgers team might well be built.

Look at the two players Rodgers most often depended on up front; Dembele and Edouard. Physically strong and quick with it. Yes, Griffiths is the player most like Kyogo and he played a lot under the manager, but look at his goals to game ratio; it dropped markedly when playing in Rodgers team. That’s what’s happened here and it might be we’re scouring for a player who can do what the manager wants better than Kyogo can.

Kyogo would never be out of my Celtic team. But this isn’t my Celtic team.

The boss knows he hasn’t been nearly good enough. No-one will be hurting more than he is about that fact. And whilst I recognise the logic in the argument that he should just try and play the same system as Ange, remember that we’d have been trying to do it with Palma, Mikey Johnston and Forrest rather than with Abada, Jota and Maeda lately and that combination of parts don’t fit Ange’s grand design any more than they do this one.

Of course, the other argument is that we should have hired someone other than Rodgers, someone who understood Ange’s system and would have played to it exactly. I’ve heard that view expressed in some places lately and I never cease to be astonished by it.

If such a person existed, Spurs would have hired him instead of Ange in the first place, they didn’t need to trouble us to get him. Any manager we brought in would have tweaked this team and changed something about it, and the chances are that would have knocked performance levels just as Rodgers has. Because this machine was built to do one thing.

There’s no point in bringing in a top-class manager if you’re asking him to run the team the way the last guy did. There are desperados out there who would have done this job at the drop of a hat on the proviso that they had to do it exactly the same way as the last guy did but nobody wants to hire those guys because that’s not managing, that’s copying and you could get a guy with a rudimentary knowledge of tactics out of the stand to attempt that.

Right now, when Brendan Rodgers looks at this team, he sees a lot of square pegs and a lot of round holes. He can work with it, for sure, but not with anything like the success he’ll have when he has his own players in place. We brought him here to do this job, and every one of us had to know on some level that there would be a transition because why wouldn’t there be? The summer window should have let him put his own imprint on this side and I think all of us can now agree that he wasn’t given the opportunity to do that in any way, shape or form.

January is where it changes, and where the fortunes of this team change with it. The weird thing is, it probably won’t take much, just two or three really good players in the right positions … this, is, after all a pretty good rig. Let him tweak it and we’ll see what it can do.

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  • Andy Mason says:

    The last time BR was her he wasted money on transfers, improved no players after Deila introduced a number of youth players into the side, and succeeded (as he has done in every job) of managing a slow but persistent decline in performance levels so by the end of his second season the football was frankly awful. What he is great at is deflecting blame for his failures in the most basic of managerial tasks. Sadly some fans are easily taken in and blame the board. While the board has plenty to answer for in how the club is run, this season’s disaster against the worst rangers side we have all witnessed, is of his own making.

  • John L says:

    I listen to the managers press conference and , I am glad to say, he doesn’t talk like a man that’s chucked it, yet. He should have came back to Glasgow with a really strong hand and there was no point in accepting 8 projects and then throwing your toys out the pram. I so want him to get this right, I spoke to a sevco punter before the manager came back and his words were, I hope Rodgers doesn’t come back, he gave us some real fucking beatings and who on our side wouldn’t want that back. So let’s all turn this corner together Hail Hail

    • BAM says:

      Good piece. It hasn’t helped that vital cogs in last seasons team have gone. Jotas transfer was too good to turn down. Starfelt wanted away and Mooy decided enough was enough. Add in Abada, CCV and Maedas injuries and its no wonder things have been up and down so far.

      Yes the signing strategy was strange, why Rodgers seemed to be so passive about it all is still perplexing but his comments recently suggest this passivity has come to an end. This board must back him otherwise what was the point in making the big song and dance in getting him in.

      I remain upbeat, God knows why with our board at times, but one thing they do well is react when things seem to be unravelling. I’d much prefer proactive building from strength but they don’t and never have.

    • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

      A goal point John and hopefully we turn a massive corner tomorrow in total unity…

      Not long now to find out now !

  • mmccartney says:

    I really wish you were right James, but I just can’t see what BR has brought to Celtic this time around. This team started the season playing mediocre football and have got worse as the season has gone on. The only player who has left the club with big boots to fill is Jota,
    You seem to want to make excuses for BR.
    He came into the club in June with well over 2 months of the transfer window left, for people to say that he had no input into the transfer policy in the summer is in my opinion rubbish. If he has had no influence on signings it would mean he is weak and I don’t believe he is.
    The people who have the ultimate responsibility for how Celtic perform, The manager, The coaching staff and the board have let the Players and supporters down with the shambolic signing policy in the summer, which has left us with a high number of players on good contracts who will play very few games for Celtic. It is going to be hard to recover from this mess.

  • James Quinn says:

    Most sense I’ve heard on this topic , like hiving a champion race horse , and leaving it in a field , let the guy loose , trust him wi a few signings , wit can go wrong , ?

  • Eldraco says:

    I watched his latest IV he said he is going with the same team apart from the addition perhaps of yang on the bench. I cant bring myself to watch my nerves are fucking shot!.

  • Jim Duffy says:

    James do you think Brendan Rodgers walked into this job blindfolded,I know he hasn’t managed these guys but he must have known they were half decent regards the SPFL,but why did he not insist when he took the job on again that he wanted his type of player in,instead we got I’ll work with the cross,? I’ve inherited,why did he not make any moves then,I think after the Leicester fuck up he was glad to get any job and jumped at the chance to be our manager but make no demands and do as big Pete and his nepotism son tells you,and that’s why we’re not walking this league as we should be.

  • Jim Duffy says:

    Work with the DROSS,not cross.

  • Paul Kelly says:

    Anges team and all those projects is what he signed up for, if he can’t now make it work then it’s little surprise as he’s a dreadful manager!

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