Rodgers Has Overcome The Critics. It Is Now Time For Him To Start Building His Legacy.

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Give a person, any person, responsibility and then cast doubt upon their ability to do the job and you put that person under pressure.

It does not matter who they are or what they have accomplished. This is especially true in the media age where sometimes the hacks can make their minds up about someone, early, and then spend the next while looking for the evidence that they were right. On top of that, there are natural biases which come into play, many of them having nothing to do with personal preferences but which are more deeply rooted than that.

Brendan Rodgers could give you a lesson on that stuff. He has been up against it since the moment he walked back through the Celtic Park gates. All that is behind him. It was critically important that he not only challenged the picture the media sought to paint of him, but that he crushed it.

“We write our own story,” he famously said, and he certainly did that.

I’ll give you an example of what the media would have done to him otherwise.

The other night, as I said yesterday, I watched the presidential debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

What made it a truly excruciating night for Biden was that his appearance and demeanour played into a negative perception of him which had already been established in the eyes of much of the media, and because of that by much of the public.

There was a lot of focus on one answer in particular which Biden gave, a meandering, horror-show of an answer which was replayed over and over again and will be for as long as this race is being run with these two men at the front of it. I’m going to let you read that answer now, in case you missed the acres of TV coverage which was devoted to it. You can also click on the link and listen to it.

“What I’m going to do is fix the tax system. For example, we have a thousand trillionaires in America—I mean billionaires in America. And what’s happening? They’re in a situation where they in fact pay 8.2 percent in taxes. If they just paid 24 percent, 25 percent, either one of those numbers, they’d raise 500 million dollars, billion dollars, I should say, in a 10-year period. We’d be able to wipe out his debt, we’d be able to help make sure all those things we need to do—child care, elder care, making sure we’d be able to make every single solitary person eligible for what I’ve been able to do with the, uh, with the COVID, excuse me, with, um … dealing with everything we have to do with … uh … look … if, we finally beat—Medicare.”

It’s horrific to read, right? Horrific.

That’s almost incoherent by the end, and watching it is far, far worse than it sounds at a plain text reading.

It would be easy for me to dig out a Trump moment just as bad as that from the debate – his comments on states where they actually kill newborn babies because of extreme abortion laws is genuinely gob-smacking – but I’ll do one better and I’ll give you, instead, a segment from a rally he held last week.

He’s talking here about visiting a boat salesman who is concerned about one day having to sell electric only vessels.

“I said, “Let me ask you a question.” And he said, “Nobody ever asked this question”, and it must be because of MIT, my relationship to MIT,” very smart. I say, “What would happen if the boat sank from its weight and you’re in the boat and you have this tremendously powerful battery and the battery’s underwater, and there’s a shark that’s approximately 10 yards over there?” By the way, a lot of shark attacks lately. Do you notice that? A lot of shark… I watched some guys justifying it today. “Well, they weren’t really that angry. They bit off the young lady’s leg because of the fact that they were not hungry, but they misunderstood who she was.” These people are crazy! He said, “There’s no problem with sharks. They just didn’t really understand a young woman swimming now who really got decimated and other people too,” a lot of shark attacks. So I said, “So there’s a shark 10 yards away from the boat, 10 yards or here. Do I get electrocuted if the boat is sinking, and water goes over the battery, the boat is sinking. Do I stay on top of the boat and get electrocuted or do I jump over by the shark and not get electrocuted?” Because I will tell you he didn’t know the answer. He said, “Nobody’s ever asked me that question.” I said, “I think it’s a good question. I think there’s a lot of electric current coming through that water.” But you know what I’d do if there was a shark or you get electrocuted, I’ll take electrocution every single time. I’m not getting near the shark. So we going to end that. We’re going to end it for boats. We’re going to end it for trucks.”

Today The New York Times editorial board has told Biden that for the good of the country he should withdraw from the race.

You know what the NYT headline was in relation to the Trump speech?

“In Las Vegas, Trump Appeals to Local Workers and Avoids Talk of Conviction.”

That’s an example of a media which is so determined to find evidence to support a pre-existing narrative that it has lost all sense of proportion and balance.

The Scottish sports media would not have buried Rodgers respectfully.

They would have annihilated him.

Today his interview with Celtic’s internal media projects him as a man completely at ease, a man who has overcome the critics and silenced them, and is now free to focus on the job at hand, and not just for the current time but well into the future.

I have never seen a clearer example of the media trying to undermine a Celtic boss as we saw when he arrived back at the club.

Now, let’s not pretend not to know that every Celtic boss gets this to one extent or another, but Rodgers was put under greater scrutiny and more pressure than anyone I’ve ever seen, even to the extent where they tried to nullify all of his previous achievements here, which was probably the greatest direct insult I’ve ever seen done to a manager in all my time watching this game.

They dismissed that record – seven trophies from seven – as if it was nothing.

They questioned his motives.

They questioned his ultimate loyalty.

They wondered whether he could still do the job.

They tried to turn the fans against him.

It was relentless.

Even when we were seven points clear, they were still looking for any sign they could find that he was a manager in decline, and for a while they thought that they had found it as we entered the mid-season slump.

But at the end of the campaign, Celtic were champions again and Rodgers had won another two trophies to add to the first seven.

He had dispatched another Ibrox boss.

He has the current incumbent over there in his gunsights.

In the five derbies, and against those two separate Ibrox leaders, his record is won four drew one.

Not only had he bested Ibrox, and silenced the critics in the media, but he’s won over the fans in the stands, and if reports are to be believed, and if the departure of Mark Lawwell is to be taken as a sign, he has greater control of the Celtic Park football operation than at any time since he first walked through the doors.

Rodgers now towers over not just Celtic but Scottish football itself, a monolithic figure at the height of his powers.

That is the reality Ibrox has to live with.

It is the reality that his media enemies have had to accommodate themselves to, and you can see how many of them have already rushed to do so, with even uber-critics like Keevins now stooping to kiss the ring, like the closing scenes of The Godfather were the capos bow, at last, to Don Michael Corleone.

And that’s amusing to me, but it’s irritating at the same time because I know most of these people will be on the phone to the remnants of the Barzini family the minute they see a sign of weakness. Yeah, Rodgers rules supreme … but these people aren’t his friends or ours and it would be good if everyone at Celtic Park remembered that.

Still, he has the bit between his teeth now and that has to hurt them.

Rodgers is fully in command, and for the time being at least these people have to afford him the respect that his position and the season just past entitles him to.

He will have a much easier summer than the last one, provided he and the “leadership” get their collective act together on signings.

I still think he will. Even with Lawwell still in the building, I think Rodgers is so strong now at the club that he can get what he wants.

And as if to highlight that, he is talking now about staying at Celtic for years. That’s the kind of talk we want to hear, and the very last thing that our enemies do.

He has two years left on the current contract.

At the end of the coming campaign there will need to be discussions about a new one, and if he signs that then he’s going to have a chance to leave a genuine legacy behind him this time.

He can approach the coming campaign with real confidence, not only in his own ability, but in the fan’s support and that of those above him at the club, and if we can get off to a good start then all the better. The team got better as last season went on, and if that’s a harbinger for how the coming season is going to go then we’ll have a good time.

What’s more, if he stays for the three years and then beyond that he will establish that legacy we’ve often talked about.

A lot of things are wrong at this club.

If we have Rodgers overseeing the rebuild across the football department, including with the youths, then we’ll be in a superb place when he finally does depart.

What’s more, his place in the pantheon of club greats will be certain. No Celtic boss since Stein has won four titles in a row; that should be objective number one, and had he stayed the course last time he’d have done that already.

To his critics, Rodgers is no longer the butt of the jokes and an easy target.

To them, he’s now more like something from a horror movie, something that they tried and failed to kill and which is now out there on the hunt, and whose survival has prompted debates now about whether or not it can die at all.

He is entitled to enjoy it, because unless he had shown strength they would have brutalised him as the US media brutalises Biden.

You either confirm their worst impression of you, and take the consequences, or you make them eat their words.

And then you make them crawl.

Rodgers is the man. The longer he’s here the more we will win, and the more they’ll have to honour him.

We’ve not gotten started on the team building yet, but listening to the manager and how chilled he is, I am ready for the next campaign already.

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  • Pilgrim73 says:

    I won’t believe he is in charge of the transfer business until I see proof of it, and by that I mean signings, not rumours or statements of intent. We require proven international level players in several positions, no more projects or young players until we have the 1st team players we require. I don’t trust our board one bit especially the chairman.

  • Charlie says:

    Brilliant article James, summarised perfectly. They tried to undermine him from the minute he came back, with every trick you mentioned-a manager on a downward curve, trashed his time at Leicester & the early cup exit to Kilmarnock sent them into a frenzy.
    Considering he was hamstrung by the transfers we brought in, he effectively won the league with 70% of the team the previous manager had at his disposal. Rodgers strength has always been player development & it’s easy to forget Matt O’Riley was nowhere near the superstar Athletico are currently taking an interest in.
    I wish I shared your confidence in thinking Rodgers is heading up footballing operations at Celtic and is relaxed about getting the tools he needs to create that legacy he deserves, but I live in hope.

  • KC67 says:

    Who needs enemies when you’ve got Lawwell at the club. The man who pisses on everyone’s chips.

    Until his malignant presence is removed it’ll be touch and go whether Rodgers stays or not.

    Has the fact that we haven’t signed anyone got anything to do with Lawwell’s less than useless son getting unceremoniously dumped because he was as useless as his father?

    Is it payback time for the fat controller?

  • James Garrity says:

    Watching Biden the other night at his most incoherent, reminded me of Kenny Miller at his most coherent.

  • Charlie Green says:

    Is Lawwell jr still on gardening leave and being paid during the Summer?

  • DannyGal says:

    I’m still worried that DD is doing what he did last year, waiting to see what signings they make before deciding what amount needs to be spent to win the league title.
    His business brain seems to be saying, “why spend a fortune if we’re already better than them? And why spend a fortune for the CL, when we’re already in the group stages, and have no chance of making the knock-out stages.”

  • The Joker says:

    The signings if there are to be any that is won’t take place until nearer kick off time of our first game.
    Do you think our club are going to pay for a players wages for six weeks or so at anything between £20,000-£50,000 without kicking a ball for,that ain’t happening.

    Also they are monitoring the situation at ibrox with twobon FREEBIES being recruited so we will probably go down the same line, the more money saved in transfers the more to be divid up between the board and Brendan all done on the cheap,but still grabbing a fortune from the mug fans.

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    Fortunately Brendan is too smart for these Scummy Scottish Football Media Bastards…

    But they could break many a ‘nice’ Manager at Celtic if they’d get away with it (like Tony Mowbray “we take it on the chin and move on”)…

    But we as Celtic supporters can break them by not purchasing them both in person and online…

    And that day that we break them is edging closer and closer…

    And I for one cannot wait for their misery on the dole…

    BRING IT ON !!!!!

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