Rodgers answers doubters with 3 year commitment

Brendan Rodgers was officially introduced to the media today as Celtic’s new manager, his arrival on a three-year deal having been announced at the beginning of the week.

In front of the assembled media, Rodgers delivered a calm and composed press conference and spoke with clarity about his ambitions for the future.  Addressing the room, Rodgers spoke of the privilege and honour he feels at being asked to come back and manage the club for a second time after four years away.

The Northern Irishman is under no illusions regarding the task that lies ahead of him both in terms of continuing Celtic’s current dominance of the game in Scotland and improving our fortunes in Europe.  However, he is also acutely aware of another battle that he may face; winning over the section of the fanbase opposed to his re-appointment.

A significant number of the Celtic support – and I include myself among those ranks – have voiced their unhappiness over Rodgers returning to the club after the acrimonious manner of his departure four-and-a-half years ago.

There are few among us who doubt his managerial and coaching abilities. We acknowledge he was most likely the best technical fit for the job, but an element of unease still remains concerning his return to Paradise.

Rodgers here for the long-haul

When asked if he saw himself being here for the duration of his contract, a pertinent question considering the fact that he walked out less than halfway through a four-year contract last time around, Rodgers’ answer was emphatic.

I’ve signed for three years, and I’ll guarantee I’ll be here for three years unless I get “emptied” before that, as they say up here. That will be the plan and then we can look at it from there.

It was an answer designed to reiterate Rodgers’ commitment to the club and, to be fair to him, his response and mannerisms when answering all appeared to be genuine, humble almost.  There was no beating of the chest or declaration of undying love for the club, something we’ve fallen for in the past.  Instead, there was sincerity in the response.

No regrets about leaving

Those anticipating or looking for Rodgers to make an apology for leaving and beg for forgiveness like a returning Prodigal son were left disappointed.

“I certainly don’t regret it (leaving),” he told those in the room. “What I do regret is the hurt that it caused people.  As a Celtic supporter, I understood what it meant and probably even more so when I left. That was my regret, that I hurt people who were Celtic supporters.”

It was an honest answer to a question posed about changing the opinions of the fans who remain unconvinced about his return.  It was an answer that may have helped sway some of those doubters into trusting him slightly more than before.

An apology for leaving, four-and-a-half late, would have felt false and hollow.  Rodgers left when he did to further his own career.  He knows it, and he knows we know it.  His honest ‘no regrets’ answer today did not try to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes and may have earned him additional respect among the support.



Winning over the doubters

But there is still a way to go before Brendan Rodgers can claim to have everyone fully on his side.  The Northern Irishman is aware of this and spoke of his desire to work towards winning over the doubters:

“For those who doubt, I’ve had that all my career.  I will continue to work hard and hopefully produce a team that plays with the commitment that they can enjoy. It’s just going to be something that will take time.”

“I’m here to win. To take on that expectation and pressure, because this is a club that wants to be winning.  For the people whom I’ve had lots of support from when I did leave, I really thank them for that. For the people that maybe don’t want me here, hopefully, I can prove to them with the football we play and the success that we can have that I can shift their opinion.

One way of shifting those opinions would be to secure progress in Europe and make true on the aim stated aim of making European football after Christmas a must, rather than a nice to have.

Time will tell if Rodgers’ second spell as manager will be as successful, or possibly even more successful, than his first.  He inherits an extremely strong squad on an upwards trajectory and has an excellent infrastructure behind him.

Rodgers has all the tools he needs at his disposal to be a success once again.  If he is, then clubs from elsewhere will take notice and make the ‘call’.  It is then we will see if his actions will silence the doubters once and for all.

Kevin McCluskie

Leave a Reply