Brendan Rodgers return and A Conflicted State of Mind

It is finally official.  Brendan Rodgers is back as Celtic manager, four and a half years after walking away from the club on the eve of a potentially hazardous away game at Tynecastle.

Looking back at the acrimonious nature of the Northern Irishman’s moonlight flit to the bright lights of Leicester and the English Premiership, it was impossible to think of a scenario where we would be welcoming him back with open arms.

Yet, here we are doing just that very thing.  Does it make us hypocrites, or highlight the fickle nature of football fans? Or, have we simply moved on and trust that Rodgers is the right man to take Celtic to the next level in European football?

Either way, Rodgers’ reappointment as Celtic manager will create debates across the Celtic fanbase for months to come.

 Double Treble

During his first spell in Paradise, Rodgers swept all before him not once, but twice, as he claimed an Invincible Treble in season one which he followed up with a second treble in season two.  Before heading down south, Rodgers claimed a third consecutive League Cup, giving him a perfect record of 7 trophies out of 7.

He delivered a brand of football that was attack-minded and encouraged the likes of Callum McGregor, Stuart Armstrong, and Tom Rogic to flourish.  However, by the start of his third season, there were signs that all was not well at the club.

While many fans could see the writing was on the wall for Rodgers due to his failing relationship with the Celtic board, and most noticeably Peter Lawwell, the timing of his parting and attempt to take the entire backroom staff with him is what irked the support more than anything.

The Green Brigade famously met his departure with a banner at Tynecastle that read “You traded immortality for mediocrity. Never a Celt, always a fraud.”  Until recently, that was still the opinion of a lot of Celtic fans.

Time is a great healer

With Ange Postecoglou also taking the road south, to London and Tottenham, the hunt was on for a manager to replace the Aussie.  The name of Brendan Rodgers emerged almost immediately and bar a 5-minute spell when Des Buckingham topped the odds, the Northern Irishman was always the leading candidate.

Not surprisingly, this led to some division among the support between those unwilling or unable to forgive the man for walking out on the club, and those who were willing to see past this now for the sake of hiring a top-class coach.

Ironically, the manner of Ange Postecoglou’s departure may have helped Rodgers win over some of the support.  Ange told us not to get too attached to our heroes; he may not have meant himself, but remembering that statement helped ease his exit from the club.

Having taken Leicester to the brink of Champions League football, won an FA Cup, and reached the semi-final of the Europa Conference League, Rodgers became a very attractive proposition once again.  That he himself had apparently made it known he was keen on a return would also have enhanced his case for a second stab at the job.

Regardless of personal vendettas against Rodgers, his ability to produce winning teams and develop young talents into first-team players is clear for all to see.  During his first spell at the club, he was widely praised for raising the standards at all levels of the football operations.

This time around, Rodgers comes into a club that is in a far better position off the park than the club he inherited in 2016.   With players such as Liel Abada and Matt O’Riley on the cusp of making big career breakthroughs, Rodgers could the man to guide them to the next level.

If he can help the players already in the squad to reach their potential and use the reported £35 million transfer kitty to add some extra quality in key areas, then the much-coveted European progress becomes a lot more achievable.





Opinion Divided

As expected, Rodgers’ reappointment has divided opinions.  ACSOM and Celtic Down Under’s Liam Carrigan said that he sees the move as a “step back in terms of our development as a club and I don’t like to see disloyalty rewarded. However, he is the manager now, so I hope and indeed look forward to having these words thrown back at me at the end of the season when he brings more trophies.”

His is not a lone voice of dissent.  The North Curve has retweeted an image of that infamous banner from Tynecastle.

However, a large majority of the Celtic support appear to be genuinely enthused by Rodgers return and look forwards to seeing him making amends for his past misdemeanours by continuing Celtic’s recent level of success.

Personally, my emotional state of mind still struggles to forgive and forget the way he walked on the club, on MY club.  His actions almost single-handedly derailed the 9-in-a-row bid before we had even secured the 8th.  It was an unforgivable act.

However, my more rational state of mind assesses Rodgers the manager and understands that attracting someone of his ability is a fantastic coup for the club.  We’ve gone from the low of losing to Ange to the high of appointing a manager who has the tools in his armoury to kick us on in Europe.

Just, why did it have to be a manager we have such a difficult history with?  Welcome back Brendan, and thanks for giving me A Conflicted State of Mind.

Kevin McCluskie

1 Comment
  1. Sums up the situation pretty well Kevn. Just one bone of contention, what’s this Northern Irishman thing you speak of?! He’s an Irishman.

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