The Interview That Reveals Rodgers Opponent, And Gives The Celtic Boss His Opening.

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One of the iconic moments in the fantastic, Academy Award winning movie Patton, comes when the titular general has vanquished his enemy in his first North African battle.

Standing on a high pass overlooking the battlefield, he triumphantly shouts:

“Rommell, you magnificent bastard! I READ YOUR BOOK!”

It’s a piece of Hollywood hokum.

If he read a German general’s book about armoured warfare it would have been Guderian’s Achtung Panzer, and in fact, as he later discovers, Rommell himself wasn’t even present at the battle … but the moment highlights Patton’s genius, his sophistication, his recognition that, as Sun-Tzu says, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”

He definitely studied his opponents. All good generals do.

Rodgers is a good general.

I wrote about the Battle of Pharsalus after he secured us three points at Ibrox with a makeshift team; that’s basically what Ceasar did when faced with Pompey’s larger army; he improvised. It helps that he and Pompey knew each other intimately, and how the other thought.

By that day Rodgers would have known The Mooch’s system inside out, because he’d have watched his sides over and over again.

He would have known the character of the man; we all did, he was clearly arrogant and quite mad.

So, what would he have studied here?

How would Rodgers get to know this man?

Well, for a start you would watch him work.

You would see what his skill-set was, and Rodgers has obviously studied Clement’s tactical approach. How completely he understands it will become clear over the next couple of weeks. The results could be devastating for the Ibrox boss.

But if he wanted to know his man well, he would study other things.

Like what?

His previous record would be educational; whatever went wrong at Monaco went wrong fast, and hard.

So you would want to know what that was, and there are people who Rodgers could reach out to in order to find out.

Beyond that, what?

Well, the fictional Patton had one idea that has proven successful all down the line of history; “I read your book!”

Clement hasn’t written a book. But he has generated plenty of words over the years, and particularly over the course of his time in Glasgow.

What insights might they offer?

Plenty, in fact, and no interview perhaps more than one he gave in October last year, just as he was getting his swagger on, and so still in the honeymoon period where nobody in the media wanted to be the first to burst the bubble. (It took them until the Dundee result to turn.)

A report by Andy Devlin, and published in The Sun, offered a fascinating, and unintentionally hilarious, portrait of the man currently bunkered at Ibrox.

To call him slightly off-centre would be to put it mildly. To be blunt, he comes across like a nut.

“Phillipe Clement admits he divorced his first wife because he was married to football,” the first line of this lunatic piece read. “The new (Ibrox) boss revealed part of why they separated was down to her not sharing his winning mentality.”

Isn’t that … insane? His missus didn’t share his “winning mentality.”

What does that even mean? That she was crap in the women’s darts team?

How do you measure the “winning mentality” of your partner?

I mean, who thinks this way? Who makes a judgement on their significant other based on that? Even if it’s not true, who in God’s name would think there’s some merit in sounding like this? It’s nuts. It’s crazy. How does he think he comes across?

And it gets worse. It gets crazier as it goes on.

“Clement gave a fascinating insight into the turbulent relationship which ended ten years ago, as he compared it with his own coaching philosophy. The 49-year-old firmly believes the drive and hunger to succeed should start in the family home.”

Eah? How many top managers do you think have quizzed their wives on the “winning mentality”?

And how does your home life influence the way your team plays?

How does that help, or hinder, what goes on in a dressing room?

“Not one to settle for second best, the Belgian has since remarried, and is now hoping his recipe for success off the park will translate on it in Glasgow. Clement said: “I don’t set priorities because I am someone who always wants to win.”

Jesus H. Not one to settle for second best.

A “recipe for success off the park” – so divorcing your missus cause she’s not as mental as you is … success now?

So, he just picks his partners based on whether they have a will to win?

Good God.

And how can you reconcile wanting to win with not setting priorities?

No wonder this geezer is full of himself; he’s probably never worked in front of a media which is this sycophantic.

The hacks should have destroyed him over this.

But if you thought that was mad, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

“It’s the way I am. I had a lot of fights with my ex-wife about that. It was because of football. When my children were small and we were playing games, I never let them win because it’s against my nature. You need to deserve to win. You can’t get it like a present — not even small children. If you do, you don’t create the right mentality. She didn’t have the same idea about that.”

What a parent he must have been.

We already know he wasn’t the best husband.

To treat your own kids, even when they were very young, as adversaries, opponents who must be beaten, and to teach them that this is the way life works, that you need to have that competitive edge … to the exclusion of everything else?

What did he do as they grew up? If he saw one of them walk away from a fight, did he administer slaps and punches until the kid hit him back or what?

I mean, these are the sorts of questions which obviously come to you.

“She wanted a normal life, with weekends and more time,” he said of his wife.

The cheek of her, eah?

“She knew that would not be the case and that was when we separated. So, it’s about football but it’s my passion. I have been lucky and later I met someone who understood my story.”

She must be a barrel of laughs, right?

What a life they must have.

The interview delves into other areas of weirdness; he wants full control of the private lives of his players and said they will accept that or he will not have them at the club. And you wonder why he’s been unable to keep any of the soon-to-be out of contract players, right?

Remember his comments earlier in the season about his players having too many babies?

And our media is pretending that this guy is … normal?

It is epically strange. It is ridiculously bonkers.

What comes across over and over and over again is that this guy is full of himself, that he takes himself way too seriously, that he is arrogant and overbearing and that any challenge to that, no matter how small, no matter how modest, can send him over the edge.

It is incredible, and if Rodgers is the leader he seems to be, he will know all of this.

And I think he does, and I think he uses it against Clement.

Patton would. Sun Tzu would. Any general worth his stripes would use this knowledge to send him spinning into a rage which would blind him to everything but striking out hard … and thus the making of momentous mistakes.

I wonder if perhaps Rodgers will leave things where they are … or take one last shot to see what results it gets.

Watch this space. This could be a more interesting week than we thought.

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  • Roonsa says:

    The missus dumped him because he (and his winning mentality) always insisted on coming first.

    Badum-tish. I’m here all week, lads. Try the veal!!!!

  • Johnny Green says:

    Clement is a total nut job and his demented win at all costs philosophy proves that. Along with that assertion, he also seriously looks a bit doo lally, I mean, I have never met a serial killer that I know of, but if I did I would expect him/her to look like Big Phil. Hammer House of horrors immediately comes to mind and he is in the right place to enhance that thought. Long may he reign at Ibrox, it really is a marriage made in hell.

    • Guillermo Mac says:

      “I never let them win because it’s against my nature. You need to deserve to win. You can’t get it like a present.”

      Irony anyone? Dear oh dear. So deserving to win leads you to become the coach of the club which enjoys outlandish assistance from the organisers of the sport (see under cheating. You honestly couldn’t make this shit up.

  • Michael McCartney says:

    Bet his wife was glad to get out of that marriage, he looks a strange guy and obviously he is a strange guy. “The Rangers” players don’t look like they are enjoying their football these days, let’s hope Celtic make them enjoy it even less on Saturday.

  • Kevan McKeown says:

    That’s just weird man. He must’ve been like the ‘competitive dad’ character from the Fast Show.

  • harold shand says:

    Sounds like Victorian Dad from Viz

  • Brattbakk says:

    I don’t want to jump on too soon. I offered to go to the pub with my mate who’s a Liverpool fan to watch a big game they were involved in and he said “I can’t, I’ve got to concentrate” That’s how I feel this week, I just want the game and after we win, my summer will be fine and the banter can flow. The cup final is the game that ruins their summer.

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    60,000 hyper and happy and on good song Celtic supporters…

    Not a Sevco Hun in sight (Bar Six Cheats with Whistles, Flags and Monitors) –

    Be clever Celtic and keep the ones in the above sentence at bay…

    And what could possibly go wrong for Sevco and Clement –

    Could it possibly be the start of another D.I.V.O.R.C.E

    With Sevco this time !

  • John says:

    James, that’s your funniest posting ever, read chunks to my wife and now we can’t stop laughing.

  • Frank Connelly says:

    Reading that I would guess we have Mark Lawell to thank for recruiting him for Sevco. Another dud mark but well done this time if it was you. The guy is a lunatic

  • Magdalena’s Chestnut Gelding says:

    I must confess that I don’t like being defeated at anything. I’m a huffy old crank. So much so that my girlfriend had bought Celtic Who’s Who and she beat me on its maiden voyage out of its box. Needless to say it’s still in said box since that first outing and shall never see the light of day again.

    My now grown up children regularly wipe the floor with me when Mario Cart is the game of choice! As an excuse for my dadness and poor coordination I repeatedly say “wow, look at the graphics! It’s like a movie!”. It doesn’t wash though, I’m still last by some considerable distance and mocking ensues.

    I did let them occasionally win games of poker when they were three. It’s only fair!

    As for Mrs Clement the 1st, I hope her solicitor had a winning mentality!

    The guy is a dough ball. I hadn’t seen nor heard of this interview till I read this article and I am stunned that this banana fruit cake wasn’t carted off for a lie down on a couch for a few sessions with a head doctor.

    I’m flabbergasted that not one single journalist didn’t critique that interview and eviscerate him for it.

    Be seen in green everyone!

  • Fiorentino Ferri says:

    As usual an interesting and informative article.

    I would have used Eponymous rather than Titular when referencing General Patton.
    De gustibus non est disputandum.

  • Gerry says:

    Absolutely bonkers…big Phil of Clement! Do you think he was a hit on Tinder? Swipe right if you have a winning mentality…left, if your profile stated that you allowed someone younger, to win at Kerplunk!!!

    We are all now starting to visualise his post match interview on Saturday, as he appears with two pencils up his nose and a pair of underpants on his head!
    By god, you couldn’t make this stuff up ! Hilarious ! ?

    • Magdalena’s Chestnut Gelding says:

      “Tell me how you feel about getting just the two penalties today Phillipe? I thought you could have at least another three and all six of the Celtic goals were offside”

      “Wibble, wibble, wibble”

  • Adam Thomas says:

    I Don’t dispute anything you say or write in your piece, it’s easy to deflect to an opposing manager ,but brendan Rodgers is not the man to take us forward ,the footballs been dire at times and if the bhunz didn’t collapse in the last 4 weeks ,Rodgers would have been out on his arch ,and you would be writing a different piece .

  • Patricia Goldie says:

    Just the right manager for this mob. Couldn’t get anymore laughable. Can’t wait to see what he comes out with next.

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